TRASHY TUESDAY: CLEVELAND WESTERNS
During a recent book hunt I came across a pile of Cleveland Westerns from the 1950s and early 1960s, all of which were in good condition. I also found a later one, which had a cover by Spanish artist Rafael Cortiella.
Cleveland Publishing was established in 1953 and continued publishing soft cover digests, primarily westerns, up until December 2018. Cleveland published in a range of different genres, including romance, spy fiction and the Larry Kent crime series (https://murdermayhemandlongdogs.com/trashy-tuesday-larry-kent-covers/), but are probably best known for their westerns, which were a staple in Australian newsagents well into recent years.
At its peak Cleveland had several different western series; including Sierra Western, High Brand Western, Bighorn Western and Winchester Western, to name a few (see below). They produced around 18 different westerns each month and printed up to 50,000 copies of each book.
Cleveland notoriously did not include publication dates in their books, but judging from the prices and their order in the various series, I would say that the ones below all date from the late 1950s or very early 1960s. Cleveland did not credit the cover artists, until the use of Spanish illustrators in the late 1960s, but most of the early covers were done by either Stan Pitt or Walter Stackpool.
High Fire by Marshall Grover looks like being the oldest of the books to me. It has a real 1950s look to it and the drawing is not as polished as the later ones.
Marshall Grover (pseudonym for Australian writer Leonard F Meares) was a prolific author credited with writing nearly 750 books, most of which were westerns. Best known for this Larry and Stretch series (changed to Larry and Streak in the United States and, bizarrely, Bill and Ben in Nordic countries), Grover also created several other series, and many stand alone novels. High Fire is one of his early ones and does not seem to fall into one of his series.
I really like the old fashioned feel to the cover, although it lacks any realism.
Valley Of Shadows by Lee Mallory (pseudonym for M Fallon), would have appeared a couple of months after High Fire in the same High Brand series.
Johnny Nelson was another pseudonym that Leonard F Meares (Marshall Grover) used. The man in black looks like Dean Martin, which, along with the general feel of the cover, suggests that Trigger Guard is from the early 1960s. The numbering of the books is not a great guide, as the Coronado series started with book 900 (no date).
John Wayne makes an appearance on the cover of Cold Justice, looking like he did in Rio Bravo. Hart E. Martin was a pseudonym used by journalist and editor Frank S. Greenop for his down market westerns.
It is a solid western cover, although the Duke seems to be randomly dropped there and does not fit in with the snowy, cold theme.
It would be impossible to calculate the number of westerns which had Kid in the title. Here is another one, Kid Lightning, by Grant Barlow for Cleveland’s Arizona series, probably from the late 1950s.
Two Guns To Sourwater by Cole Shelton (Cleveland) would seem to date from the early 1970s. The Shane and Jonah series was created by Cole Shelton (Roger Norris-Green) as a competitor to the popular Larry and Stretch books, which switched to Horwitz in 1966.
From the late 1960s the Spanish syndicated art agency Nova Bossa started to provide a lot of covers for Cleveland, mainly the Larry Kent books, but also some of the westerns. Using Spanish artists such as Rafael Cortiella and Enrich Torres, Nova Bossa provided covers which were usually more violent and sexualised in their approach.
Cortiella’s cover for Two Guns To Sourwater was typical of his Larry Kent covers and certainly gave the book a more modern feel. Very different from the innocent looking cover for High Fire!
Here is another article on the Spanish covers for Larry Kent: https://murdermayhemandlongdogs.com/trashy-tuesday-more-larry-kent-covers/
My goodness! Just seeing these covers takes me back to the 1960s and a steady stream of cowboy series on television. ‘The Lone Ranger’, ‘Rawhide’ and ‘Bonanza’. I don’t recall any scantily clad women 😉 though. I do remember seeing some similar westerns to these in my aunt’s secondhand bookshop in Launceston (into the early 1970s).
Yes they were so common for so long!
The world of pulps is so fascinating and entertaining. I’m kind of surprised how widely covers by Spanish artists were used. I thought they were mainly used in Europe for pulps and comics, and in America for magazines.
And by the way, I believe this cover is by Robert Abbett:
Thanks. The Spanish artists certainly changed the style and feel of many of the series that they did covers for.
I was more or less brought up on a steady siet of Cleveland Westerns and no one was more heartbroken when I learned of the company’s decision to close its doors after 65 years. However, I do have some consolation – as one half of Piccadilly Publishing, I’ve been able to reissue many Cleveland westerns in ebook, including the SHANE AND JONAH series mentioned above. I am so proud that we’ve brought back BENEDICT AND BRAZOS, BANNERMAN THE ENFORCER, CLAY NASH, THE LONER and SAVAGE. So Cleveland lives on!