Cover Story at 25

Wild West celebrates 25 years in publication with a retrospective of covers that have appeared since 1988. Some collectors have all 151 issues intact.
Wild West celebrates 25 years in publication with a retrospective of covers that have appeared since 1988. Some collectors have all 151 issues intact.

Cover Galleries:







Since June 1988, when bimonthly Wild West ran a detail from Charles Schreyvogel’s My Bunkie on the front of its first issue, our favorite magazine has covered the Western frontier on its covers and inside, too. What follows is a look at all of our regular issue covers through 25 years (compiled by Senior Editor Martin A. Bartels). Some collectors actually have all 150 covers still attached to the 150 magazines (from the premiere issue to the June 2013 issue) published in Leesburg, Virginia, under the auspices of four different owners—Empire Press, Cowles History Group, Primedia Enthusiast Publications and now World History Group.

In the early years every cover was a detail from a painting, sometimes by artists of the past but more often by live artists. Our second cover (August 1988) stands out because it shows a detail from Preparing for the Sun Dance, by Howard Terpning, one of the most successful Western artists of all time. Terpning’s memorable paintings have appeared often on or inside Wild West, as have the outstanding works of Frank McCarthy (1924–2002), whose Leading the Charge graces the August 1989 issue. During a redesign effort (that didn’t pan out) in April 1995, Wild West strayed from its “cover painting” tradition to show a color photograph of playing cards and poker chips. Collectors take note: For the issue after that (June 1995) we actually distributed two distinct covers in a marketing test; thus readers were greeted with either a Joe Grandee painting of U.S. Borax mules in action or a color photograph of a six-shooter in a case. Not sure which cover sold better, but for August 1995 a painting of Apache scouts and cavalrymen appeared.

Our covers changed (hopefully for the better, you be the judge) when Eric Weider bought Wild West and its sister history publications in 2006. The first Weider Wild West cover (August 2006) features a photograph. One of the most photogenic icons of the Old West, Wild Bill Hickok, appears in fine form above the red-letter cover line DAMNABLE DEADWOOD (our cover story was about the real-life characters portrayed in the high-profanity HBO-TV series Deadwood). The October 2006 silver cover celebrates the 125th anniversary of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. In many October covers before and since we have showcased characters from that Tombstone fall drama. And of course our June issue has often featured photos or paintings of George Armstrong Custer, the commander of the 7th Cavalry at the June 1876 Battle of the Little Bighorn. Paintings (a detail or the whole work) will still show up now and then on our covers. Just look at the Edgar Paxson painting—yes, showcasing Custer—on the cover of our June 2013 “25 Years” issue. But more often than not we will feature cover photos, colorized or otherwise. Truth be known, covers are mostly designed to attract new readers and impulse buyers at newsstands, but we certainly hope our loyal subscribers (and not just those who collect Western magazines) appreciate the images that have come to the forefront 150 times (eh…make that 151 times) in 25 years. A hardy thanks to all of you from the entire Wild West staff and Eric Weider!

Gregory Lalire, Wild West editor for 19 of those 25 years 

Discussion: Which is your favorite Wild West cover? Do you typically prefer paintings or photographs on the cover? And what would you like to see featured on future covers? Reply in the comments section below.

7 Responses

  1. Gary Maguire

    I just wanted to say that I am one of those collectors who have all 151 issues intact and in binders. Thank you for 25 wonderful years of articles that transport me back in time.

  2. David Lauterborn

    Gary, that is impressive … and humbling. Thank you for taking such care of the magazine. We’ll do our part to shepherd Wild West into the next quarter century and fill those binders of yours!

    Dave Lauterborn
    Managing Editor

  3. Jeff Herman

    My favorite cover is February 1991. I actually own a limited edition print of Chuck Renn’s \Winter of 41\ It’s my favorite work by Renn,
    and I do prefer paintings on the cover. I just find them more attractive, but the magazine has remained top notch!

  4. Connie Volkman

    I am one of those people that just bought her first copy of WildWest and am hooked. Hooked because I grew up in Dodge City, Ks., had a great aunt that was married to one of the Bourne’s, tried to get CBS News to tell the story of the destroying of Dodge City Front Street in the early 70’s when I was a news director; they were just not interested, just discovered that my husband’s gr grandfather William Gay, was lynched with his son John in (1894) Russell , Ks by an angry mob, and I had a great uncle that was friends with Doc holiday and was killed robbing a bank in New Mexico. And on and on.
    I think I need to research your past rags to see if I have any connections in them. Even the land I live on in Wichita was owned by Billy Bonney’s mother.
    I love all the connections. Where have you been all my life? Obviously not in my Bookstore or Super. Some people just don’t have good taste.
    Artist Connie Leonard Volkman

  5. Adam Romero

    I am interested in getting a copy of your issue April 1998 volume 10 no.6. according to my sources it has a story of my great grandmother and here brother’s in a shoot out at the Cooper Ranch in Catron County. Elfego Baca was the sheriff and my great grandmother Nellie Whisker Carrejo was involved in this shoot out when the Cooper’s stole some of her cattle. Her brother’s Juan and Henry Carrejo were also involved. If you could please let me know how I can get a copy I would be happy to pay for it.

    Thanks in advance
    Adam Romero


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.