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Friday, 22 August 2008

VIOLENCE IS GOLDEN - The West of Edge

(NOTE - there were several mistakes in this original article which were pointed out to me by the George G Gilman forum. And so thanks to those guys I have corrected two points for this article - One - Gilman only wrote one of the Leone/Eastwood novel spin-off's and the Edge comic book was Italian in origin. Thanks, guys.)


George G. Gilman, real name Terry Harknett, was one of the Piccadilly Cowboys - that posse of British writers who filled the western section of UK bookshops for much of the seventies and eighties. Some of these writers have been forgotten, a few of the characters consigned to the deepest bowels of pulp history but in Edge, Gilman created a character that some consider an iconic part of the western genre.


"Josiah Hedges was thirty years old, stood six feet three inches tall and weighed a solid one hundred and ninety pounds, some of it bone, most of it muscle. Many women considered him handsome, many others thought him ugly: he had that kind of face. Eyes that were light blue and piercing from his Swedish mother, a hawklike nose, high cheekbones and firm jaw line from his Mexican Father."

Thus we get our first view of the character who would drop his given name and simply become Edge after his younger brother is killed by men he rode with during the war. And by the end of the first book in the series, Edge: The Loner (1971) the character has become a cold, unfeeling killing machine.

The violence was extreme for the time but what set the Edge book apart from all the others was the authentic feel of the books and a wry, often corny, sense of humour. The books were perfect for anyone seduced by the outlandish spectacle of the Italian Westerns and wanting a similar mix of blood, guts, sex and mayhem.

Terry Harknett had previously adapted one of the novelizations of Eastwood's dollar films. And so when NEL wanted to create a new western series character then Harknett was the perfect choice.

(Picture left - a issue of the Edge comic book - information of this title is scarce but I have been informed it was an Italian publication. More information and page by page scans of all the comics can be found HERE. )


P
en name adopted because the initials made up GEE GEE GEE - a child's name for an horse, and the series was launched on an unsuspecting public. The books were an immediate success which was largely due to the fact that Harknett was a bloody good writer who understood the mechanics of storytelling, but the fact that Edge was such a entertaining, no-hold barred, character obviously helped.

Gilman created several other characters - Adam Steele and the Undertaker among them and these enjoyed some success but it is Edge that is the jewel in the crown. The series would run until 1989, some 61 books, but in 2001 the author wrote another Edge novel, available only as a free E- Book from http://www.idaryl.com/edge/index.html . This book looks at the character as an older, less violent man and is a great read. Since this book the author has penned further Edge E-books and these can also be found and downloaded from the link above.

Fans of the paperback series will love it.

I used to love these books when I was a kid and would go through them faster than Gordon Brown does a U-turn. The character of Edge appealed to my teenage boy sensibilities. The books were the literary answer to the super violent European Westerns that were sometimes show on BBC 2. In those days there were only three channels so a late night western or horror movie was a treat.

Along with the horror novels by the likes of Stephen King, Guy N. Smith and James Herbert, the Edge books were my reading of choice.

Quite often there was no more graphic violence in a Edge book than Herbert's Rats, Smith's crabs and King's psychotic cars put together.

Graphic violence was the dog's bollocks for teenage boys during the seventies.


"Then the razor slashed into the flesh of Hanson's right cheek: down from beneath the eye almost to the jawbone, a twist of the wrist and across - not pulled free until the lower stroke of the right angle came close to the ear. Not a deep cut, but a bloody one: dark crimson oozing from the lips of the wound to cascade over the flesh and drip to the victim's shirt front."



The full list of Edge books follow:

(Reprinted from the A Man called George Gilman website)


Edge series
Edge #1: The Loner, New English Library, Feb 1972; New York, Pinnacle, 1972
Edge #2: Ten Thousand Dollars, American, New English Library, Feb 1972; as Ten Grand, New York, Pinnacle, 1972
Edge #3: Apache Death, London, New English Library, May 1972; New York, Pinnacle, 1972
Edge #4: Killer's Breed, London, New English Library, 1972; New York, Pinnacle, 1972

Edge #5: Blood On Silver, London, New English Library, 1972; New York, Pinnacle, 1973
Edge #6: The Blue, The Grey And The R
ed, London, New English Library, Feb 1973; as Red River, New York, Pinnacle, 1973
Edge #7: California Killing, London, New English Library, 1973; as California Kill, New York, Pinnacle, 1973
Edge #8: Seven Out of Hell, London, New English Library, 1973; as Hell's Seven, New York, Pinnacle, 1973
Edge #9: Bloody Summer, London, New English Library, Sep 1973; New York, Pinnacle, 1974
Edge #10: Vengeance is Black, London, New English Library, 1974; as Black Vengeance, New York, Pinnacle, 1974
Edge #11: Sioux Uprising, London, New English Library, 1974; New York, Pinnacle, 1974
Edge #12: The Biggest Bounty, London, New English Library, 1974; as Death's Bounty, New York, Pinnacle, 1974
Edge #13: A Town Called Hate, London, New English Library, 1974; as The Hated, New York, Pinnacle, 1975

Edge #14: The Big Gold, London, New English Library, 1974; as Tiger's Gold, New York, Pinnacle, 1975
Edge #15: Blood Run, London, New English Library, 1975; as Paradise Loses, New York, Pinnacle, 1975
Edge #16: The Final Shot, London, New English Library, 1975; New York, Pinnacle, 1975
Edge #17: Vengeance Valley, London, New English Library, Nov 1975; New York, Pinnacle, 1976
Edge #18: Ten Tombstones to Texas, London, New English Library, 1975; as Ten Tombstones, New York, Pinnacle, 1976
Edge #19: Ashes and Dust, London, New English Library, 1976; New York, Pinnacle, 1976
Edge #20: Sullivan's Law, London, New English Library, 1976; Los Angeles, Pinnacle, 1976
Edge #21: Rhapsody in Red, London, New English Library, 1976; Los Angeles, Pinnacle, 1976
Edge #22: Slaughter Road, London, New English Library, 1977; Los Angeles, Pinnacle, 1977
Edge #23: Echoes of War, London, New English Library, 1977; Los Angeles, Pinnacle, 1977
Edge #24: The Day Democracy Died, London, New English Library, 1977; as Slaughterday, Los Angeles, Pinnacle, 1978
Edge #25: Violence Trail, London, New English Library, 1978; Los Angeles, Pinnacle, 1978
Edge #26: Savage Dawn, London, New English Library, April 1978; Los Angeles, Pinnacle, 1978
Edge #27: Death Drive, London, New English Library, 1978; Los Angeles, Pinnacle, 1978
Edge #28: Eve of Evil, London, New English Library, 1978; Los Angeles, Pinnacle, 1978
Edge #29: The Living, the Dying and the Dead, London, New English Library, Dec 1978; Los Angeles, Pinnacle, 1979

Edge #30: Waiting for a Train, London, New English Library, 1979; as Towering Nightmare, Los Angeles, Pinnacle, 1979
Edge #31: The Guilty Ones, London, New English Library, 1979; Los Angeles, Pinnacle, 1979
Edge #32: The Frightened Gun, London, New English Library, June 1979; Los Angeles, Pinnacle, 1979
Edge #33: The Hated, London, New English Library, Dec 1979; as Red Fury, New York, Pinnacle, 1980
Edge #34: A Ride in the Sun, London, New English Library, 1980; New York, Pinnacle, 1980
Edge #35: Death Deal, London, New English Library, Sep 1980; New York, Pinnacle, 1980
Edge #36: Town on Trial, London, New English Library, Mar 1981; New York, Pinnacle, 1981
Edge #37: Vengeance at Ventura, London, New English Library, 1981; New York, Pinnacle, 1981
Edge #38: Massacre Mission, London, New English Library, 1981; New York, Pinnacle, 1981
Edge #39: The Prisoners, London, New English Library, Nov 1981; New York, Pinnacle, 1982
Edge #40: Montana Melodrama, London, New English Library, Feb 1982; New York, Pinnacle, 1982
Edge #41: The Killing Claim, London, New English Library, June 1982
Edge #42: Bloody Sunrise, London, New English Library, 1982; New York, Pinnacle, 1983
Edge #43: Arapaho Revenge, London, New English Library, Jan 1983; New York, Pinnacle, 1983
Edge #44: The Blind Side, London, New English Library, 1983; New York, Pinnacle, 1984
Edge #45: House on the Range, London, New English Library, 1983; New York, Pinnacle, 1984
Edge #46: The Godforsaken, London, New
English Library, 1984; New York, Pinnacle, 1984
Edge #47: The Moving Cage, London, New English Library, 1984; New York, Pinnacle, 1984
Edge #48: School for Slaughter, London, New English Library, Feb 1985; New York, Pinnacle, 1985
Edge #49: Revenge Ride, London, New English Library, 1985; New York, Pinnacle, 1985
Edge #50: Shadow of the Gallows, London, New English Library, 1985
Edge #51: A Time for Killing, London, New English Library, Feb 1986
Edge #52: Brutal Border, London, New English Library, June 1986
Edge #53: Hitting Paydirt, London, New English Library, 1986
Edge #54: Backshot, London, New English Library, 1987
Edge #55: Uneasy Riders, London, New English Library, 1987
Edge #56: Doom Town, London, New English Library, 1987
Edge #57: Dying is Forever, London, New English Library, 1987
Edge #58: The Desperadoes, London, New English Library, 1988
Edge #59: Terror Town, London, New English Library, 1988
Edge #60: The Breed Woman, London, New English Library, 1989
Edge #61: The Rifle, London, New English Library, 1989

Edge Meets Adam Steele series
Edge Meets Adam Steele: Two of a Kind, London, New English Library, 1980; New York, Pinnacle, 1980
Edge Meets Adam Steele: Matching Pair, London, New English Library, 1982; New York, Pinnacle, 1982

Edge Meets Steele #3: Double Action, London, New English Library, 1984



The character has inspired a fervent fan base that can be likened to those that spring up around sci-fi shows such as Star Trek. There are internet forums dedicated to the character, spin off comics, fan fiction abounds and the books, particularly the later editions which had a smaller print run, are going for crazy money on Ebay and other auction sites. For instance a copy of novel 56 recently went for £74 at auction. There is even a George G. Gilman appreciation society.

What is surprising is that reading the books now, as an adult, they are still as good as over. Okay they're over the top and get ever more outlandish as the series goes on but they're all well written pulp style tales.

They're enjoyable, fun to read -and surely that's what's reading's all about.

3 comments:

minder125 said...

Love the Edge series I've got a stack of them waiting to be read. But I really need to space them out a little does go a long way.

-Bruce

Ray said...

When it comes to Westerns Edge is not just a man alone - he stands alone.

The interesting part is the way Edge's character evolves. For example the way that his wife, Beth, dies and the way that it affects him.

Another good thing about Edge is that through the course of the books Edge ages.

One correction - there are 6 further Edge books that are available via the George G Gilman and the Piccadilly Cowboys site.

Ray

ARCHAVIST said...

yeah I know about the six e-books - I did mention the first in the article.