My guest today is Joel Jenkins, writer of “Case of the Vorpal Tomahawk”, featuring Native American gunslinger/occult investigator, Lone Crow. Jenkins is the author of The Nuclear Suitcase as well as The Coming of Crow (a collection of stories featuring Lone Crow) and numerous short stories. You can find out more at http://www.joeljenkins.net/.
“GUNS OF THE CROW”
Though details of Lone Crow’s origins are sketchy, it is clear that he hails from a tribe that originated in the Floridas, but had wandered far afield only to be ambushed by Apaches and wiped out. In the story ‘The Vanishing City’ Lone Crow encounters one of the Apache warriors who participated in that slaughter. Throughout the Lone Crow stories it is mentioned time and again that Crow is the last survivor of his tribe. Whether this is fact, or merely the perception of Lone Crow, remains to be seen, but none of the published Crow stories indicate otherwise.
How Lone Crow evolved from last of his tribe to an investigator of the occult is unclear, but when the readers meet Lone Crow he is an expert with the tomahawk, carbine, and the six gun, and has passing enough familiarity with the strange and occult that its occurrence does not surprise him.
Oddly enough, Lone Crow does not seem particularly well-suited to the task of occult investigator. Though he is literate in English, is able to communicate in several Indian dialects and in Spanish he is not well versed in the ancient languages which many occult tomes are written in, and he is not a sorcerer of any sort.
Instead, he is found utilizing more mundane methods of dealing with the occult such as blade, bullet and trinitrotoluene, which is better known as dynamite. Still, as effective as he finds these, they are not always sufficient to vanquish the forces of evil and he depends heavily upon his eagle-butted Colt .45 which has been blessed by the hand of an as yet unspecified prophet while in the ‘salty wastelands’. This weapon seems to provide effective defense against many supernatural foes, though Crow must provide a steady aim and an accurate shot.
His other defense against the depredations of supernatural foes is a Priesthood which is mentioned in several tales, and though this appears to be supernal in nature it is not the type of magic we typically see from occult investigators of various stripes—the source of power being derived from celestial sources, rather than being dark or sinister in nature.
On top of the difficulties and dangers of investigating and battling hounds that pass through angles, dinosaurs, and extraterrestrial worms bent and devouring the earth Crow has encountered more mundane but no less life-threatening of foes such as thieves, murderers, and gunfighters. Crow is reputed to have slain Butch Cassidy while in South America, though the exact method of his demise is greatly disputed and varies upon the telling.
Though of Native American heritage and subject to the prejudices of the times we see Crow passing freely from the frontiers and into the heart of New York City, and he is admitted into some institutions that would normally bar a man of his race. However, we still hear racist jibes and it is hinted that more than once Crow has used his guns to defend himself against lynch mobs and racists. Perhaps it is just Crow’s reputation as a deadly gunfighter that allows him to function in white society.
Despite these prejudices Crow is shown to be affiliated with the Miskatonic University in some stories, acting in the capacity of a bodyguard and occult investigator. In this role he has access to the arcane libraries of the university and interacts with the faculty. However, in later stories it is made clear that Crow has had a falling out with the president of the college and is no longer welcome on the premises, though he continues to maintain a relationship with one Doctor Sylvia Conrad (maiden name Spelling) whom he once accompanied into the depths of the Amazon jungles in search of the Lost City of da Silva Guimarães.
Other notable companions include Morgan, Warren, and Wyatt Earp and the Mormon gunfighter Porter Rockwell. He was also noted to be some time companion of the infamous escaped slave Shotgun Ferguson, and the female gunfighter Six-Gun Susannah Johnson, who was reputed to be the fastest gun in the west—but not necessarily the most accurate…
A Grimoire of Eldritch Inquests: Occult Detective Monster Hunter,Volume 1, edited by Josh Reynolds and Miles Boothe, with an introduction by Bob Freeman, is now available in digital format. Trade and hardback versions are also available. Grab your copy today, on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.