Hold onto your hats, cowboys, it's time for LONGARM!

Ladies and Cowboys, I present to you, LONGARM:The Timer's set and Longarm's about to go off...

Yes, sometimes a cigar really is just a cigar. And sometimes a bare-chested man is really just a bare-chested man. When I came across this book in the library, I was, of course, entranced by the profile with cigar as well as the romance novel elements inherent in this cover (the tryst, the bare-chested guy--what a package!, the bad guy dressed in civil war regalia--you can tell he's a bad guy 'cause he has facial hair). I thought, here's a western that has it all. And then I came across another:

Longarm's guarding some heavenly bodies...

(I love the backdoor action taking place in this tryst scene, as well as the woman on the right's hair!)

And another:Longarm's looking for guns in all the wrong places!

And another:

Unwelcome Woolies! Longarm is one sure-shooting shepherd...

Yes, people, it turns out that there are over 300 Longarm books out there. And Tabor Evans (or a host of people writing under that name) churn out one every month. Every cover has the cigar-clenching profile (Longarm himself?) and includes various elements more commonly found on romance covers. Sometimes the same picture appears in different places and proportions on other covers. I think that I, too, would recycle images after 300! I never, in a million years, imagined I would come across this many covers that are this bad. Bless you, Longarm, and the hacks who churn you out.


UPDATE!!! There's a whole other series! With over 300 books! And a silhouette of a guy (alas, no cigar, but he does have a nifty scar)! And it's called Gunsmith! And written by a guy named J. R.! Okay, getting a little excited here with the exclamation points. But see for yourself (notice in the earlier book, #4, it's "an ADULT western series"...Oooooh la la):



DocTurtle said...

What I wanna know is, just how many noticeably distinct plotlines can these series have? There can't be more than about five or six recognizable "Western" themes, so after a handful of novels, you've gotta be shit outta luck.

Episode 1: Longarm catches some cattle rustlers.

Episode 2: Longarm catches some horse thieves.

Episode 3: Longarm comes to the rescue of a wealthy ranch heiress tormented by outlaws.

Episode 4: Longarm pursues some desperadoes in search of Spanish gold.

Episode 5: Longarm does battle with a host of fearless train robbers.

Episode 6: Longarm wreaks a pioneer's vengeance on the killers of his third cousin.

Episode 7: Longarm catches some sheep rustlers.


Anonymous said...

This site cracks me up! I like to peruse used book stores, and I tend to come across hilariously hideous book covers on occasion. It looks like you've just started, so I look forward to fresh snark!

Bridget (visiting from the Comics Curmudgeon)

Anonymous said...

So...is that LongARM? You know what it is? Those guys we see checking out hot lusty romance books for their "wives" have now found a way to endulge their secret desires without other guys making fun.

Great site!

Snow said...

But wait, Doc, there're more.

Episode 8: Longarm fights rampaging Indians.

Episode 9: Longarm teams up with wise Native Americans to protect the land from power hungry railroad barons.

Episode 10: Longarm saves town from corrupt sheriff.

Episode 11: Longarm carries much needed medicine to remote mountain settlers.

Deborah said...

I had a friend who used to write these. I mean, I don't know if he wrote "Longarm" or "Gunsmith." All he ever said was "pornographic Westerns under a pseudonym." Which, once you've said "pornographic Westerns," I think the "pseudonym" part goes without saying.

But it's a paycheck and it beats having a day job. That was his theory anyway.

Colin Klein said...

Episode 12) Longarm fights Chinese River Pirates.
Episode 13) Longarm clears out a Haunted Bordello.

I'm not making those up. I had a friend who worked for Penguin Putnam just out of college, doing cover copy for mass-market paperbacks. He worked on a whole stretch of Longarm/Trailsman, his proudest moment being the tagline for Episode 13: "These Spooky Strumpets Don't Stand a Ghost of a Chance!", or something like that. He also did a lot of crappy theme mysteries---ones where old ladies solve cat-related crimes, or mysteries that all involve fennel themed recipies, or whatever.

It is apparently a surprisingly depressing job, the cover copy business. He was (is) an aspiring playwright, so the best part about the job was that he could pretend to be working on copy while he was writing plays. His boss was slowly spiraling into cocaine addiction, so most of the attention was focused elsewhere. Eventually, the boss got fired, and new boss noticed that he was months behind on covers. He's moved on to greener pastures.

Tabor Evans is a pseudonym for a stable of writers, and I had another friend who tried to get in on the writing game. It's actually pretty hard. there's an enormous style guide for writing soft-porn westerns. The frequency and the graphicness of the sex scenes is pretty strictly prescribed ( you're limited to vocabulary at the level of 13 year olds). Also what Longarm smokes (Cheroots), and whether he can shoot first in a gunfight (no). The last rule was the dealbreaker....

Anonymous said...

Is anyone else profoundly disturbed by that last Gunsmith cover where he's been severed in half?

Anonymous said...

I used to work in a public library and I had to shelve these things ALL THE TIME. And oh, it used to amuse me when the old men brought a whole stack of Longarm or Gunsmith up to the counter to check out. Heh, I knew what was in those books, and I'm better the gunfights weren't the main attraction...

Unknown said...

Actually, I recently read a Gunsmith book, and quite enjoyed it: yes, yes, there were three, almost entirely gratuitous sex scenes, which where described in much more detail than I would have preferred, and which actually rather annoyed me, believe it or not, because, each time, the story had been moving along at a great pace, one complication after another, one problem or confrontation leading to another .... and then .... whoe, nellie! ... the plot comes to a standstill of a chapter or so for the hero to have sex.

I'm planning to pick up more of these, though -- except for the lengthy sex scenes, they actually have some pretty good *storytelling*.

(I actually review the *contents* of these kind of works, at http://pulpfan.livejournal.com ... mostly focussing on pulp era stories ... but I do have a few reviews of these kind of western, because they seem a direct carry-through of the fast-paced storytelling aesthetic of Max Brand, Louis Lamour and the like).

Anonymous said...


Oh no you won't like Longarm when he's angry...