Sunday, September 20, 2020

Renfrew of the Mounted Project

A 400 page book documenting the history of RENFREW OF THE MOUNTED.

As many of you read a month ago, Laurie York Erskine's literary creation, RENFREW OF THE MOUNTED, started out as a series of short stories and novels and expanded to a lengthy run on radio (1936 to 1942), followed by a series of poverty row movies (1938 to 1940). 

Many consider the genre of Canadian Mountie fiction the same as B-westerns of the 1930s and 1940s, only with the hero wearing a red coat instead of chaps and spurs. With the scope of activity, including important elements of criminal investigation, action, and settings equaled to any pulp Western, and of outdoor adventure, film critics did not hesitate to point out how Saskatchewan might as well have been Texas. 

Screen cowboys Tom Tyler, Charles Starrett, Russell Hayden, Kirby Grant, Tim McCoy, Buck Jones, Bob Steele, Bill Elliott and many others swapped their six guns and holsters for a Mountie police uniform.

To be sure, there were Canadian Mounties of fiction literature before RENFREW OF THE MOUNTED, but none made a larger splash. So influential was RENFREW that by 1938 numerous imitations were established in an attempt to cash in on the same market. 

Even the creator of SERGEANT PRESTON OF THE YUKON, perhaps the most successful of the imitators, credited RENFREW for inspiration. Yet, Erskine's franchise fell into orphaned status and would have no doubt become forgotten if it was not for the fact that the eight RENFREW motion-pictures fell into the public domain and have since been released on DVD under multiple labels.

This October a new book will be published, documenting the history of RENFREW OF THE MOUNTED, paying tribute to Laurie York Erskine and his literary property. The author, Martin Grams, Jr., spent over a decade researching the subject by tracking down private archives across the country. In his search to document the series, he also found transcription discs that contain rare radio recordings that have never been heard since their initial broadcast circa 1936 through 1942. Also discovered was the 1948 unaired radio pilot that attempted to revive the program over NBC. 

As many authors would attest, royalties for book sales are minimal at best. In an effort to compensate for the years of travel expenses, copy fees and photo licensing, Martin is now accepting pledges on Kickstarter where a limited edition hardcover will be made available. (After the conclusion of Kickstarter, the book will be available only in paperback.) 

Those rare recordings are also being offered as a "thank you" gift to those who pre-order a copy of the book, paperback or hardcover. 

Five or six years ago, pre-selling books on Kickstarter was unconventional, but today this practice has become commonplace for authors. The following link is provided for your convenience:

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