The best of the Encyclopedia of Pulp Heroes: Duke Buckland

dukebucklandBuckland, Duke. Duke Buckland was created by Frederick C. Davis (Donald O’Keefe Adams, Bill Brent, Carter Cole, Dennis Dayle, Murray Gifford, Cyrus Hatch, Mark Hazzard, Jingling Kid, Guy Kerry, Paul Kirk, Show-Me McGee, Moon Man, Operator #5, Radigan, Ravenwood, Peter Trapp II, Peter Van Dyk) and appeared in a number of stories in Western Trails from 1934 to at least 1937, possibly beginning with “Dead Man’s Boots” (Western Trails, Sept 1934). Duke Buckland is a Wanted Man. Duke Buckland, alias “Black Jack Spade,” is wanted in every state west of the Mississippi, and with his sidekick “Kit” McCane is forced to continually wander. McCane, at least, thinks this is unjust: “Gosh, Duke…you’re squarer than the gents who are waitin’ to rope you. I know you’ve never robbed except to help somebody else—and you’ve never gunned anybody who wasn’t a skunk plumb in need of bein’ exterminated.” Buckland leaves a Jack of Spades behind after he Does Good. Buckland rides the snow-white pony White Man and has “blue eyes, sharpened by an eternity of riding the death-haunted owl-hoot.”

A typical cowboy hero of the Western pulps, you might think, and you’d be right, only better written than was the norm (Frederick C. Davis was a skilled professional), and almost archetypal in his Wanted Man, wandering-hero status and almost existential unhappiness at that status.  

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