Monday, August 6, 2012
WONDERS OF THE WEST
1951, the month of my birth. It was the next-to-last issue of the
eight-issue run that started with a September 1950-dated issue and ended
with one dated February 1952. Sadly, Maynard’s impressive career
as a stuntman and movie cowboy was all but over by 1944, the result
of his alcoholism. So why this comic-book series?
Television. Fawcett saw the new medium was broadcasting Maynard’s
old westerns - he appeared in over 90 films - and figured readers
would know his name from those airings.
All eight issues were drawn by Carl Pfeufer, who got his start in
comics drawing the Sub-Mariner in the 1940s. The artist also drew
comics starring other movie cowboy heroes like Tom Mix, Gabby Hayes
and Hopalong Cassidy. All but one of those eight issues featured
book-length stories, a rarity in the 1950s.
Wikipedia offers this on Maynard’s tragic circumstances:
With his white cowboy hat, fancy shirt, and pair of six-shooters,
from the 1920s to the mid-1940s, Maynard appeared in more than 90
films. However, his alcoholism severely impacted his life and his
career ended in 1944. He made appearances at state fairs and
rodeos. He then owned a small circus operation featuring rodeo
riders but eventually lost it to creditors. The significant amount
of money he had earned vanished, and he lived a desolate life in a
rundown mobile home. During these years, Maynard was supported by
an unknown benefactor, long thought to be Gene Autry. More than 25
years after his last starring role, Maynard returned to two small
parts in films in 1970 and 1972, notably in The Marshal of Windy
Hollow. Maynard died in 1973 at the Motion Picture Home in Woodland
Hills, California. He was interred at Forest Lawn Cypress Cemetery
in Cypress, California....For his contribution to the motion
picture industry, Ken Maynard has a star on the Hollywood Walk of
Fame at 6751 Hollywood Blvd.
Keep reading this blog for more comics from my birth month. I hope
they have happier endings than this one.
I have been reading stuff. Here are my thoughts on the stuff I’ve
Archie #631-634 [Archie Comics; $2.99] took another futuristic trip
down “Memory Lane” as Archie married Valerie with consequences for
both the Archies and Josie and the Pussycats. Written and penciled
by Dan Parent with inks by Rich Koslowski, the entertaining serial
took a turn for the even more amazing in its final chapter wherein
Valerie got a glimpse of several other futures and made a very wise
decision. Whether you read these four issues or wait for them to
be collected, I recommend this story.
On a related note...
As much as I love most of these Archie “epics,” I also miss seeing
the Riverdale kids in their usual teenage comedies. The stories by
Frank Doyle, George Gladir, and others are dear to me and represent
the heart and soul of Archie Comics. While I understand the sales
value and very real interest in these multi-issue events, I wonder
if new readers are missing out on the traditions that built one of
the longest-lived franchises in comics history.
Maybe Archie Comics could try to have the best of both worlds with
a series of 100-page annuals featuring new stories in the classic
Archie tradition. For the “event” aspect of these annuals, Archie
could include stories by popular writers and artists not usually associated
with their comics. I was going to offer some suggestions here, but
I think it’ll be more fun to read yours.
Make with the comments, my bloggy friends.
Bongo continues to publish some fine funny comic books, among them
Bart Simpson #71-73 [$2.99 each]. Issue #71 has a tale written and
drawn by Michael T. Gilbert of Mr. Monster fame. It’s filled with
laughs and breaks ever so slightly and wonderfully from the usual
look of Simpsons comics. I love that Bongo is open to a variety of
Issue #72's “The Prince and the Penal System” ranks with the very
best Bart Simpsons comics. Kudos to co-writers Tony Digerolamo and
Max Davison for a wacky look at a reality TV show. This issue also
has a story written and drawn by Peter Kuper.
Issue #73 leads with “Everybody Really Hates Bart” by John Zakour,
the writer of the wonderful “Working Daze” comic strip. The story
puts Bart in an even more underdog position than usual and ends on
a delightful ironic gag.
Every issue also has “The Bongo Beat”: commentary by Bongo Comics
intern Louis Lane, letters from readers, and a gag page. It adds
to the already big fun of these comic books, which are, of course,
recommended for readers of all ages.
My next garage sale will be Friday and Saturday, August 10-11, at
840 Damon Drive from 10 am to 3 pm each day. The comics and other
boxes are 99% full at this writing.
In going through boxes from the Fortress of Storage, I’m finding a
lot of cool stuff. I’m keeping some of it for the time being and,
among that “some of it” are the various Batman, Justice League and
Superman titles based on the animated versions of those characters.
Though aimed at younger readers, those comic books are generally a
lot truer to the heroes than the likes of “The New 52.”
Since I hadn’t read many of these comics, I’m trying to read one of
them each day. Most recently that “one” was The Batman Strikes #46
“Beauty and the Beast” by Russell Lissau with art by Christopher
Jones and Terry Beatty is a done-in-one story featuring Croc as I’d
never seen the villain before. It was an expertly told done-in-one
adventure with a very satisfying ending. If the qualities of this
story were welcome in the Batman books intended for older readers,
I’d probably like those books more.
My blanket recommendation is that, whenever you can get your hands
on one of these “based on the animated series” Batman comics, buy
it. Not at my garage sale, of course, because I’m keeping the ones
I come across there.
I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.
© 2012 Tony Isabella