Monday, February 27, 2012


Cowboy hero Bob Steele was born Robert Adrian Bradbury in Portland
Oregon (January 23, 1907) and was renamed when he began his acting
career.  From the late 1920s through the 1940s, he starred in “B”
westerns for small film studios.  When his cowboy career faded, he
took supporting films in films major and otherwise.  He appeared on
TV’s F Troop as a trooper who claimed to have fought side-by-side
with Davy Crockett at the Alamo.  Maybe not so coincidentally, the
actor appeared in the 1926 movie With Davy Crockett at the Fall of
the Alamo
.  He is said to have been the inspiration for the often-
mentioned “Cowboy Bob” in Dennis the Menace.

Fawcett Comics published Bob Steele Western from December 1950 to
June 1952.  Issue #7 hit the newsstands in December, 1951, which,
as we all know by now, is the month of the birth.  This represents
my entire knowledge of the actor and the comic named for him.  Feel
free to tell me more.


I’m working on two or three longer pieces of the type that always
elicits mixed reactions.  Many friends and readers will praise them
and express admiration for my honesty.  Some professional buddies
will furtively do the same: “Of course, you'll have the good taste
not to mention that I spoke to you.”

The usual online cretins will get foamy at the mouth and assume I’m
writing about them in an attempt to “call them out” because, you
know, I’m apparently not a good enough writer to figure out to call
them out without ambiguity.  I think the desire to receive some
attention is such a driving force in their lives that they don’t
even care if it’s uncomplimentary attention. 

If I grin in amusement as I write this, it’s because I’m well aware
your blogger here is writing it for a blog that carries his name,
also writes a column for Comics Buyer’s Guide carrying his name and
has a message board named for him.  I am not without ego, though I
like to think, perhaps delusionally, my ego doesn’t drive me as the
egos of the aforementioned cretins drive them.

When I choose not to name someone of whom I write negatively, it’s
because I’m not interested in them.  They serve as examples for the
greater wisdom I am trying to impart.  In most cases, these unnamed
subjects have no accomplishments worth noting beyond their posting
of ridiculous theories on the Internet...or their behaving in rude
manner...or their outright lying in their comments.  They get the
anonymity they deserve.   

But, as I often say, we are all the heroes of our own stories and
that holds as true for me as anyone else.  I try to be as accurate
as possible. I attempt to present my readers with numerous caveats
to help them decide the truth of what I write.  I work with clean
hands and honest heart.  Or so I strongly believe.

So, when I write those pieces sometimes next month, I will write of
absurdities and dishonesty and tragedies.  I will write of things
that disturb me.  I will write of things that delight me.  I will
explain why I have not and will likely never sue DC Comics over the
wrongs the company has done me.  I will share with you what I see
as the path my life will take in the future.  I’ll name names when
I feel the names are germane to the conversations and withhold them
when I feel they are not.  It’ll be fun and scary and maybe even a
wee bit therapeutic.  I know I’m excited.


My comics reading continues as ever, sometimes erratic, sometimes
organized.  Having read the “Siege” issues of The Mighty Avengers
back in the day, I’m finished with that title.  Writers Dan Slott
and Christos Gage did fine work on “The Unspoken,” a five-issue arc
with a big ass menace and lots of neat characterization.  Henry Pym
as Earth’s “Scientist Supreme” and the explanation of why the title
didn’t go to Reed Richards or Tony Stark made me squeal with child-
like joy.  What an amazing concept!

I’m also finished with Wolverine for the time being.  I’d already read
(and probably reviewed somewhere) the Mark Millar and “Civil War”
issues.  Shout-outs to writer Stuart Moore and artist C.P. Smith
for “The Package” in Wolverine #41 [June 2006] and to Rob Williams
and artists Laurence Campbell (pencils) and Kris Justice (inks) for
“Better to Give...” in issue #49 [February 2007].  The latter tale
tickled my fancy.  Like my son Eddie, I consider Die Hard to be one
of the greatest Christmas movies of all time.

Dark Avengers? That was a chore to get through.  As I’ve said, the
ascension of Norman Osborn to the position he holds in “Dark Reign”
was never convincing.  Add characters I dislike and, in some cases,
believe are terminally overused to the mix and you can see why this
title became the hardest of sells for me.


Futurama Comics #59 [Bongo; $2.99] sports the new design for this
publisher’s titles, which actually goes beyond the spiffy new logos
on this and other title.  Besides the issue’s story, we get three
pages of Bongo news and readers letters.  It’s a friendly and good-
looking package that pleases the eyes.

Ian Boothby’s “How to Secede Without Really Trying” is a fun tale
wherein New New York secedes from the planet.  There are hilarious
moments, some of them involving classic and modern popular culture
elements, and good art and storytelling by John Delaney (pencils)
and Dan Davis (inks).  Equally solid coloring by Robert Stanley and
lettering by Karen Bates makes the story as attractive as the rest
of the package.  Good stuff.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2012 Tony Isabella


  1. Bob starred with his twin brother in the silents -- with many movies directed by his father!

    Bob had an interesting, aggressive fighting style -- in one B-Western he plays a boxer.

    A young man named Joe Louis was so impressed with Bob Steele's fighting style that he became an amateur boxer himself!

    Cartoonist Mario DeMarco was a big fan of Steele's and published an excellent (if short) book on him.

    In "Of Mice and Men" Lon Chaney crushes Steele's hands -- just like the Thing later did to Dr. Doom!

    -- Mike D

  2. I watched a lot of cowboy movies on early TV, as all we kids did back then. Bob Steele was my favorite. Because of the low res of our Dumont it always looked like Steele was wearing lipstick!

  3. Dave -- my god you are right about the lipstick look! But i had an old Magnavox.