Thursday, May 5, 2011

Rocky Mountain Sam

“Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery”

By E. M. Sanchez-Saavedra

On August 31, 1874, a unique image first appeared in the pages of an American story paper: a hapless Native American dangling from the basket of a gas balloon. First used to illustrate an adventure serial entitled Rocky Mountain Sam, The Wind Specter of the Blackfeet by “Burke Brentford” in Street and Smith’s mammoth New York Weekly, it appealed to young readers who liked Jules Verne’s techno-fiction and to Wild West fans. Street and Smith reprinted the story in 1896 as a single volume in their Log Cabin Library with another version of the scene.

The illustration was featured in an innovative and eye-catching layout that snaked across the huge front page. Less than two weeks later, George Emmett’s Hogarth House in London pirated the story and created a smaller variant of the same scene in the September 12, 1874 issue of The Young Englishman. Emmett’s penny journals regularly reprinted Street and Smith’s serials, including Ned Buntline’s stories about Buffalo Bill Cody. To spite rival Edwin J. Brett, American publisher Frank Leslie officially permitted Emmett to use material from Frank Leslie’s Boys’ and Girls’ Weekly. Leslie, of course, had been pirating stories from both Brett and Emmett for almost a decade, including Emmett’s Tom Wildrake’s Schooldays.

Not to be outdone by Street and Smith, Leslie seems to have suggested to his new star author Samuel Bracebridge Heming (“Bracebridge Hemyng”) that he include a similar episode in the current “Jack Harkaway” serial. Eager to please his liberal employer, Heming willingly obliged. Sure enough, on October 31, 1874, Jack Harkaway’s companions, sailing over the Black Hills on a mission of mercy, manage to snag their own Indian brave in a fine cover illustration by James E. Taylor.

Articles by E. M. Sanchez-Saavedra in Dime Novel Round-Up, 1989 – Present.

“Recycling and Respectability,” Vol. 58, 2 (April 1989)

“Frank Merriwell Off Broadway; or, On Stage in Leadville, Colorado, 1898,” Vol. 59, 1 (February 1990)

“Three Letters From Gilbert Patten,” Vol. 59, 4 (August 1990)

“A Merriwell Genealogy; or, ‘You Can’t Tell the Players Without a Scorecard’” by Roaring Mike, The Headhunter from Hard-Pan, Vol. 59, 4 (August 1990)

“Three Novelists Who Didn’t Bite the Dust,” Vol. 60, 2 (April 1991)

“Francis Worcester Doughty: A Retrospective,” Vol. 60, 6 (December 1991)

“Bracebridge Hemyng; Man or Myth,” Vol. 61, 2 (April 1992)

“Defeating the Dastardly Dons With Dime Novels; or, Aiding Old Glory in Cuba, 1898-1902,” Vol. 61, 4 (August 1992)

“From Fearnought to Fearnot: A Question of Origin,” Vol. 61, 6 (December 1992)

“Frank Merriwell ‘Didn’t Inhale’ Either!” Vol. 62, 2 (June 1993)

“Numismatics According to Beadle,” Vol. 62, 5 (December 1993)

“The ‘Lost Merriwells’ I: Frank Merriwell’s Venture,” Vol. 62, 5 (December 1993) Letter to the editor, with scans of “Phunny Phellow” 1861 and the real “Kit Carson, Jr.” Vol. 74, 2 (April 2005)

“Before There was ‘Gangsta’ Rap There was ‘Bully Rag’: Some Thoughts Inspired by Frank Merriwell’s Return to Yale,” Vol. 79, 4 (August 2010)

Articles in Yellowback Library, 1988 – Present.

“My Favorite Series Book Character (Mark Tidd)” No. 50 (August 1988)

“A Testimony to Jack Harkaway” No. 94 (April 1992)

“Revisiting ‘A Torn-Away World’” No. 252 (June 2005)

“The Hemings: A Family of Storytellers,” No. 322 (April 2011)

Articles in The Henty Society Bulletin (U.K.), 1991 – Present.

“Addendum to ‘The Portraits of G.A. Henty’ by Terry Corrigan” Vol. 7, 54 (Winter 1990)

“ ‘My Books Have a Good Sale in America’: Some Brief Observations on the Authorized Scribner Editions of Henty’s Juvenile Series.” Vol. 7, 55 (Spring 1991)

“ ‘A Head For a Head’: John George Edgar’s Last Story,” Vol. 7, 56 (Summer 1991)

‘With Lee in Virginia.’ The 1912 Edition of The Arthur Westbrook Nickel Weekly,” No. 117 (July 2009) With color rear cover.

“‘Put the Pernicious Things Into the Fire’; The Perceived Menace of the Penny Dreadful,” No. 121 (November 2010) With color rear cover (Emmett’s Captain Jack.)

1 comment:

  1. The first is always the best: the balloonist in the original drawing was the only one lucky enough to have Santa Claus along for the ride.