RARA-AVIS: Re: Evan Hunter as Curt Cannon: Clinton

From: Richard Moore ( moorich2@aol.com)
Date: 25 May 2006

--- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, "foxbrick" <foxbrick@...> wrote:
> The only Curt Cannon-signed fiction I've read was also about the
> character Curt Cannon. Did Hunter also use the name on non-Cannon
> (unCannonical) fiction?
> Todd Mason

I am not aware of any fiction published under the Curt Cannon byline that did not feature the character Curt Cannon.

The character originated in that great hardboiled digest magazine Manhunt. However, you will search in vain for the name Curt Cannon in Manhunt. The stories were published under the name Evan Hunter and at the time of their first appearance, the character was named Matt Cordell. By the time 1958 rolled around and Gold Medal reprinted the stories in I LIKE THEM TOUGH and published the novel I'M CANNON--FOR HIRE, a funny thing happened to the byline Evan Hunter. In 1953 it was perhaps the most common name used by a young writer born Salvadore A. Lombino. He used it on mysteries and science fiction. Then the movie "The Blackboard Jungle" was made from his novel of the same name and immediately the name Evan Hunter had value.

So the Matt Cordell stories by Evan Hunter became Curt Cannon stories by Curt Cannon. An excellent short novel published in the science fiction magazine IF by Evan Hunter became TOMORROW'S WORLD (aka TOMORROW AND TOMORROW) by Hunt Collins. It's been years since I read this novel but it was my introduction to this writer when I was in high school and it blew me away.

Hunt Collins was one of Hunter's favorite bylines. I am looking at Manhunt's issue for September 1953 that has a Matt Cordell story ("The Death of Me") by Evan Hunter and short stories by Hunt Collins and Richard Marsten. Back around 1982, Michelle Slung set up a series of evening presentations by mystery writers for the Smithsonian Institute. Given the status mystery writers now have, it is not easy to remember that most of this attention is a recent thing. I attended that series and when Hunter's turn came I took along my copy of that September 1953 issue. Hunter cheerfully signed it Evan Hunter, Richard Marsten, Hunt Collins and Ed McBain, all of whom had thrived in Manhunt. It was one of the best paying magazines and it also seemed to favor Scott Meredith clients--and Hunter worked for that agency for a time. As I look at my issues of Manhunt, Hunter under his various names appears in issue after issue.

I respect how Hunter managed to cobble together a living when he was just another ex-GI scrambling for editors' attention. Well below the payscale and respect of Manhunt were the pulp magazines edited by Robert Lowndes. Lowndes is renowned in science fiction circles for managing interesting issues on a very limited budget. The same is true of his pulps Famous Detective Stories and Smashing Detective Stories. Lowndes' top rate was 1 cent a word and the average was less. He still managed contributions from top writers.

One of the series characters in Lowndes' Famous Detective Stories is Guthrie Lamb, a milk-drinking, .45 carrying private eye in a series of stories by Hunt Collins. In one of the neater things I can remember, Hunter did a reprise of the Guthrie Lamb character. He was writing one of his Matthew Hope novels and needed a private eye character. It would have been easy to spin one up fresh and new but instead, Hunter recalled Guthrie Lamb and brought him back. Lamb had aged the appropriate number of years but still packed the unlikely .45 caliber automatic in a shoulder holster.

I daydreamed about approaching Hunter about reprinting the old stories but he died about the time the daydream was born. Perhaps one day they will be reprinted.

Richard Moore

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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 25 May 2006 EDT