The Western Pulp Novels
the early eighties, Playboy books began publishing a remarkable series
of "Adult" pulp western novels. Under the pen-name of "J. D. Hardin"
(say it very fast), the Doc and Raider series of Westerns followed
the adventures of two Pinkerton agents -- Raider, a kind of "Arkansas
gold old boy" and Doc, a rather well-to-do doctor from the East.
In true Reagan-era macho style, the pair solved one crime after another
and, in the process, had sex with anything that moved, setting the series
apart from the more traditional pulp Western novels.
some sense, the novels were almost a take-off on the old Wild, Wild
West television series -- there was wit, humor, outrageous, and (occasionally)
some good adventure stories.
in most Western pulp novel series, the books were actually written by
a number of anonymous authors. It's funny to note how they could
be self referential -- the cover of a "J.D. Hardin" book would carry a
quote such as "The most exciting writer since Louis L'Armour", credited
to Jake Logan, author of another Western series from the same publisher.
Logan's books, in turn, had quotes of praise from Hardin -- both were,
of course, completely fictitious pen names.
were a total of over seventy novels in the series, produced throughout
the mid to late 80's. The books were first published by Playboy
Books, then Berkeley Books produced most of the titles in the series.
They also revived the Raider character in a more traditionally written
Western novel series.
Martin had been collecting the novels for a number of years and was looking
for names for his cartoon characters. As a little homage, Doc and
Raider were transformed from testosterone-charged riders of the plains
to a domestic Gay couple.
appreciate the sheer goofiness of the series, you need to pick one up
for yourself. In one, the bad guys are killed when they are taken
up in a giant cyclone. In another, Doc seduces a young maid by offering
to put some special cream on her to "enlarge her bosoms".
alas, the books themselves are hard to find and pulp Westerns are themselves
a dying genre. Once available at the corner drugstore or grocery,
the books disappeared almost as quickly as they were released. Sean
managed to collect all the titles in the series after several years of
rummaging through used bookshops -- I've only found about half of the
novels myself. (Send an email
if you have one lying around you'd like to donate to my growing collection.)
currently developing a series of pages that will list all of the books
in the series with plot summaries -- I'll post a link when the page takes
form -- RAR)