Friday, February 28, 2014

Piccadilly Cowboys

The Picadilly Cowboys were a group of British writers who gathered in a pub in Picadilly in London and wrote a series of violent, brutal western paperbacks in the 1970s and 80s.  Writing under various house names, they were Terry Harknett, Laurence James, Mike Linaker, Angus Wells, Ken Bulmer, John Harvey and Fred Nolan.

Much like the serial vigilante genre is a collection of copies, knock offs, and permutations of Don Pendleton's Executioner series, the Picadilly Cowboy genre spun off of the successful Edge series by George Gilman (Terry Harknett).

These ran parallel to other Men's Adventure paperbacks of the era, and had the same feel.  They drew their tone from the spaghetti western films, only much more brutal.  The protagonists were not anti-heroes, or amoral drifters with their own personal code.  They were at their kindest violent bullies, and at their worst outright villains.

The plots were incredibly cliche, but the stories stood out for the massive amounts of gore and violence, which puts most horror novels to shame.  It was obvious the writers were having a lot of fun with it, and were likely trying to outdo each other.  It wasn't unusual for a single gunshot wound to be described over the course of a full page.

Titles are easy to get in used bookstores, though it can be difficult to wade through the Western section to find these gems.  Many have been recently reprinted in cheap ebook editions by Piccadilly Publishing.

Here are the series titles with their credited author name.  There may be a couple of yanks mixed in here that share the same vibe.

  • Edge by George G Gilman
  • Steele by George G Gilman
  • Angel by Frederick H Christian
  • Apache by William M. James
  • Breed by James A. Muir
  • Bodie by Neil Hunter
  • Caleb Thorn by LJ Coburn
  • Claw by Mathew Kirk
  • Crow by James W Marvin
  • Cutter by Duff McCoy
  • Gringos by JD Sandon
  • Gunslinger by Charles C Garrett
  • Hart by John B Harvey
  • Hawk by William S Brady
  • Herne the Hunter by John McLaglen
  • Jubal Cade by Charles R Pike
  • Lawmen by JB Dancer
  • Peacemaker by William S Brady
  • Six-Gun Samurai by Patrick Lee
  • Undertaker by George G Gilman
More at Vault of Evil.

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