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Rice, Pete. Pete Rice was created by “Austin Gridley,” a Street & Smith house name used in this case by Ben Conlon (O.K. Polter), and appeared in fifty-one stories in Pete Rice Magazine and Wild West Weekly from 1933 to 1939, beginning with “The Sheriff of Buzzard Gap” (Pete Rice Magazine #1, Nov. 1933).
Pete Rice is the sheriff of Buzzard Gap, a remote town in Trinchera County, Arizona. Despite living in Buzzard Gap Rice and his deputies “Teeny” Butler and “Misery” Hicks are known across the Southwest and in Mexico as the deadliest, bravest lawmen around. Rice lives in the 1930s, but Buzzard Gap is remote enough that horses rather than automobiles are still the primary mode of transportation, and cattle rustling and other Wild West crimes still take place with regularity. In those cases which take Rice away from Trinchera County, to Los Angeles and Chicago, he gets involved in more modern crimes.
Rice himself is ugly and scarred, but he is muscular, lacking any body fat, and is very fast with a gun, although he prefers not to use it and chooses the lariat or his fists over his six-guns. (Rice is unusually softhearted for a hero of the western pulps, and on more than one occasions feels “futility and grief” at the death of outlaws). Besides Butler and Hicks, Rice is aided by Sonny, his sorrel horse (as Rice calls him, his “four-legged deputy”), and by his dog Vulture. Rice encounters Sonny Tabor twice.
* I'm including the Pete Rice stories in the Best of the Encyclopedia list because they are well-written. Comparatisvely speaking, of course--one didn't look in the Western pulps in the 1930s were particularly good writing. But as far as Western pulps went, Pete Rice Magazine was better-than-average, and Rice well-characterized. One can't call him archetypal or even iconic, but he was a very good representative of the 1930s pulp cowboys, and those stories in which cowboy Rice confront modern crimes and criminals work well as fish-out-of-water mysteries.
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