Rediscovered: A Woolrich Slugfest

Weekend after autograph weekend, I like to think of my two main Autograph Hounds — Brian Leno and Kevin Cook — as a pair of boxers, circling each other in the ring. Bursting out with sudden bruising jabs.

A Seabury Quinn v. an E. Charles Vivian.

An Arthur O. Friel v. a Tod Robbins.

A George Allan England v. a George Allan England!

I see them hanging on the ropes after trading quick rounds of John Hancocks back and forth, exhausted by the contest — legs rubbery, arms depending to their sides like those of anthropoid apes. . . .

But in real life they don’t seem to be tired at all. If anything, I’m the one being pummeled, buried under dueling avalanches of autographs.

For today’s Autograph Hound Saturday I might be able to make the image work, however, because I’ve ended up with samples of the signature of noir titan Cornell Woolrich from both parties. Pow. Pow. Can’t you hear the smack of the gloves?

Brian Leno

I was with Brian when he picked up his Woolrich at PulpFest, got it off Walker Martin, I think. Let Brian tell his story:

“Cornell Woolrich was one of the greats and his signature was a particularily desirable one for me.  

“One of my very first purchases of a Woolrich collection was the paperback Bluebeard’s Seventh Wife, published under the William Irish pseudonym.

“Old enough to remember watching Boris Karloff’s Thriller when it first appeared on television, I saw three Woolrich stories adapted for the show — ‘Guillotine’, ‘Late Date’ and ‘Papa Benjamin.’ That last episode cost me at least one night’s sleep.

“Many cinematic treasures were based on Woolrich’s writing, including Rear Window, The Leopard Man and Phantom Lady. Being a fan of the radio series The Whistler I’ve always enjoyed The Mark of the Whistler and The Return of the Whistler, two of the entries in the movie cycle based upon the radio program.”

Brian’s purchase covered the story “Gratitude” which saw life in print as “I.O.U. One Life” when it first appeared in Double Detective, November 1938.

And in this corner we find the taciturn slugger and collector

Kevin Cook

Who pops his gloves together and says, “I will note if there is interest that I have three more signed Cornell Woolrich checks, but none are for a story as good as ‘Jane Brown’s Body’ — although the estimation is my opinion and not gospel fact.”

Yeah, let’s haul the Gospels in on this deal — adds some authenticity to the scene. 

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