The mistery of the missing gun


Last afternoon we were idly taking a look at various covers from the vintage era. It was raining outside, and we were immersed in every sort of thrilling and out of the ordinary situation. At one point one cover decisively caught my attention and…I didn’t immediately understand why. But let proceed with order.

Pulp covers were designed to have great impact, as the purpose of them was obviously to elicit interest and curiosity from the potential buyer. In order to get it they often showed highly improbable situations, such heroes wrestling with orders of spiders, or damsels in distressing yet amazing circumstances, not to mention the limitless creativity of science-fiction magazines covers, all of them showing any sort of breathtaking situation. Considering the really huge amount of cover productions among the decades-long pulp magazine era, it is not surprising to find, from time to time, some curious front page that was unintentionally eye-catching. One example of this (the one that caught me) can be found on a cover from the pulp magazine “Detective Fiction Weekly” which came out on February, 1930. In the picture illustrating the main story (“The Sparrow Hawk”, by Garnett Radcliffe) we can see a frightened man facing a menacing hybrid snout. He seems surprised by the unexpected apparition and appears to try to defend himself by holding something in his fist, possibly a weapon or a gun.

Problem is that a close look at his right hand shows the man is holding…nothing. He seems on the verge to fire one or, for what we know, multiple shots at the emerging menace using fresh air in his grip. Yes, he could be resetting his jacket or, more theatrically, pointing at his own chest in an impulsive gesture of scare.


Detective fiction weekly – February, 1930


Yet the first impression persists, considering, too, that a gun holding character was quite a common picture at the time. So, what’s the correct answer?

We have a tip: the author of the cover (various searches I made have yielded any results, so at the moment I don’t know who is) possibly had too much work to do, as the times required lots of issues to be delivered continuously. We assume that possibly his boss required him too much drawings to do in virtually no time, so he, charged with the task of create, say, four covers in one single day, missed to sketch the gun in the character’s hand and delivered to the editor a partial work, because he didn’t notice the missing part. What can we say again? We only hope the man escaped safely from the bad situation…

P.S: in case anyone knows the author of the original cover, please let us know. Thanks in advance.

2 thoughts on “The mistery of the missing gun”

  1. Hi everybody. It’s been just a year I visited this site and it always met all my expectations. I’ve bought five vintage pulps here and I fully recommend it: great prices!

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