Monday, November 30, 2009

Lee and Kirby Did WAAY Too Many Monster Comics- Rawhide Kid#22

There was a time when Westerns were some of the most popular comics series around. Heck, there was a time when Westerns, War, Romance and Horror all outsold superhero comics. Problem is, how do you do an interesting Western when the Comics Code won't let you show anybody getting shot??

Well if you're The Lone Ranger, you shoot the guns out of the bad guys' hands and move on. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby found other solutions. One was they threw in a lot of what we would now recognize as supervillains; hypnotists and magicians and the like. The other was a natural for Marvel c. 1960: Monsters.

Marvel had been making it's bread with monster comics for some time. Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko were drawing comic after comic, month after month featuring big, ugly lumbering monsters, all of which needed to be stopped to save the world from total destruction.

So, this issue of Rawhide kid took the logical step of making the Kid face a monster. Which is great, 'cause he's allowed to SHOOT monsters.

Now I'm going to let Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers tell you the story, through the miracle of Splash pages:

Okay, here's our setup. Rawhide Kid vs a walking totem pole. Pretty much a retelling of the cover. Incidentally, totem poles are only found amongst the tribes of the Pacific Northwest and are not indigenous to the Southwest where this story takes place. I like how the face in the middle looks a little embarrassed.

Now here's a classy, old-Hollywood composition. The monster is only hinted at as a shadow, leaving you to experience the horror through the eyes of the onlooker. Nice.

Well, some stuff has clearly happened between chapters, since the lift is partly raised. Apparently being a living totem pole doesn't mean you are invulnerable to getting dirt thrown in your eyes. Who'd've thought?

Okay, now this one's my favorite! I especially love how the third guy from the left takes the time to shout "LUCKY WE GOT OUT OF THE COACH IN TIME AND HAD TIME TO UNHARNESS THE HORSES!" I know that's what I would say if I found myself suddenly fleeing for my life from a sentient, evil totem pole.

And finally. the last page, so you can all rest soundly, assured that everything came out okay.

See. You didn't even really have to read the comic. A whole story summed up in five pages.


  1. Aaron: Great Post. I love Lee's writing from this era: "From whence did it come?" and the paleface stranger has the courage of a puma . . ." What I want to know is wherefore did it go? and are puma's particularly noted for great bravery? Are they any more courageous than, say, bobcats?

    Plus, I think Marvel was churning out so many monsters back in the day that some weren't particularly memorable. Case in point, the Totem. With those teeny arms and legs, he looks about as scary as the Pillsbury Dough Boy.

    Damn, Kirby can make anything worth looking at though, can't he? -- Mykal

  2. Mykal: That dialogue is even better if you can imagine Stan Lee saying it out loud over a typewriter. As to the Totem, he's pretty silly. Let's just say he's no Fin Fang Foom. But yeah, without a doubt, Kirby can make you take a closer look at just about anything.

  3. For me, it's like a transition comic. I like horror comics, therefore I might like this western comic. They really should have tried this with Romance. I could easily see the Totem trying to steal someone's boyfriend.