Sunday, March 25, 2007

The First(?) Godwulf

Most fans of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler are aware that Hammett and Chandler got their start writing novellas for Black Mask magazine. In fact, Hammett serialized his first four novels in Black Mask, and Chandler "cannibalized" a number of his Black Mask novellas, slicing and dicing them to provide the plots for his early books.

Robert B. Parker is considered by many to be the hardboiled heir to Hammett and Chandler. But most fans of Parker probably do not know that Parker's first novel, The Goldwulf Manuscript, appeared in novella form in the men's "adventure" magazine Argosy.

What's not clear is if the Argosy appearance of the story was intended to precede the hardcover release. If you look on the copyright page of any book edition of Godwulf:

You'll see text which reads, "A portion of this book appeared in the October 1973 issue of Argosy." Since the first edition of the book is copyrighted 1973, you'd be forgiven if you assumed that the novella appeared before or at the same time as the first.

The interesting bit is that the novella didn't appear in the October 1973 issue of Argosy at all. It came out in the January 1974 issue as the "$5.95 Book Bonus:"

It shared the magazine with a variety of interesting content, including an article on whale riding, a Jimmy Hoffa interview (the last before his death?), an Op-Ed piece advocating concealed handguns for all and an ungodly number of cigarette advertisements:

But finally on page 69 comes the novella, and the Argosy reader's first opportunity to meet Spenser, a "rough, tough" private eye "with a lot of bluff." What the average Argosy reader did not get is Mr. Parker's signature, which only appears on my copy:


At 2:19 PM, Blogger boba4 said...

Ah yes. I was so glad when I added this issue to my Parker collection, but never thought to bring it along to a signing. Congrats sir, that is one of the ultimate collectibles.


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