Wednesday, January 13, 2016


The Rawhide Kid is my favorite western comics character and one of my favorite comics characters period.  Something about the short of stature (but big on courage and fighting skills) Johnny Clay spoke to the short of stature (but big on comics-reading skills) teenage Tony Isabella.  After rereading the Kid’s earliest adventures when Marvel Comics reprinted them in a pair of Marvel Masterworks and an Essential Rawhide Kid volume, I wanted to reacquire every Rawhide Kid comic, reread them and write about them in this bloggy thing of mine. This is the 70th installment in that series.

The Grand Comics Database credits the cover of The Rawhide Kid #85  [March 1971] to Larry Lieber, who wrote and penciled the interior story. But it also opines that Marie Severin made some alterations on the cover and that Bill Everett might have inked it. I can see another artist’s touch on the faces of the bad guy grabbing the Kid from behind and maybe the woman watching the melee. I think Marie is definitely a possibility for those alternations. But I don’t see anything that screams Everett on the inks. Your mileage may vary on this, so I’m posting a larger-than-normal image of the cover here. Just click on it and it’ll get bigger.

“Ride the Savage Land” (20 pages) is inked by John Tartaglione, who was always a good match for Lieber’s pencils and lettered by Jean Izzo. Pages 12 and 13 are half-pages, so the story is really only 19 pages long.


The story opens with Rawhide applying for a job as a shotgun rider on a stagecoach. He is recognized by one of the line’s workers, but owner Dawson doesn’t believe in holding a man’s past against him:

An hombre seekin’ honest work ought not to be matter who he is ir what he’s done.

The Kid appreciates Dawson’s faith. His first week’s wages aren’t much, but he came by the money honestly and that makes it “mighty attractive” to him.

After some time, Dawson tells Rawhide he’ll be picking up a special passenger on the next run. Tom, Dawson’s son, is coming home from back east after attending the best schools the boss could afford.

...learning things that a widowed old roughneck like me couldn’t teach him...things that his mother would have wanted him to know. And now muh son is comin’ home, educated and cultured.

Father and son haven’t seen one another since the latter was a boy,  but there’s so mistaking the old man’s pride in and love for Tom. The Kid figures Tom is one lucky hombre.

Unfortunately, Tom is an arrogant jerk with a superiority complex. Unhappy with his meal - This mess isn’t fit for human consumption! - he treats the restaurant staff like servants and sweeps the food  off the table. Rawhide intervenes before Tom gets a well-deserved beatdown. Of course, to the imperious Tom, the Kid is nothing more than an underling.

Tom proclaims he can take care of himself, insisting the stagecoach leave immediately. He notes the only other passenger with disdain:  
That sleeping lout looks like he hasn’t shaved in a week!

The stage is also carrying a money shipment for the freight office. The driver hopes that no owlhoots know about the shipment, but, of course, they do.

The Fargo gang blocks the road and the sleeping lout, one of them, pulls his gun on Tom. They tell the driver to throw down the money box or the dude buys it.

The driver reaches for a hidden gun. Tom sees him and, in fear for his life, shouts to the driver not to do it. Alerted, the leader of the gang shoots and kills the driver.

With no possible play open to him, Rawhide surrenders his guns. The gang knows who he is and get a big laugh out of knowing people will  assume the Kid was in on this robbery. They take the guns and the horses, leaving the Kid and Tom tied up.

The Kid frees himself by rubbing the ropes against a pointed rock. He then frees Tom, who figures they will head for the nearest town and telegraph his father for help.

The Kid has another plan. He will track the gang before their trail gets cold. He figures he has to get the money back to keep people from thinking he was part of the gang. Tom is not happy with this plan. Why should he risk his neck?

If you don’t know, I can’t tell you!

Tom is the complaining sort, but a close encounter with a rattler helps move him along. He and the Kid reach a relay station and get  horses. They find an outlaw town hidden in the hills. Rawhide tells Tom to lay low. He’s riding in alone.

The Kid feigns wanting to join up with the Fargo Gang. They aren’t buying it. After having Rawhide do some chores, they give him his guns back so he can join them on a bank robbery. The Kid draws on them, only to discover his guns are empty.

Tom sees the gang ride off without Rawhide. Figuring something is wrong, he sneaks down to the outlaw town:

I’m taking a chance coming here! But I don’t care!  My fear has already cost one man his life! I don’t want another death on my conscience!

Tom releases Rawhide from a locked storeroom. He and the Kid switch clothes, which lets them get the drop on one of the gang members. They switch back. This time, the Kid is facing the gang with loaded guns and makes short work of three of them.

Fargo himself is about to shoot Rawhide in the back when Tom jumps the outlaw leader. He slaps Tom upside the head with his gun. His subsequent attempt to shoot the Kid doesn’t go so well for Fargo. The outlaw pays for his murder of the stage driver.

The Dawsons reunite. Tom says he wouldn’t have made it without the Kid. His dad asks Tom how he stood up under the ordeal. Rawhide is quick to respond:

He’s new to the ways of the west! It was a rough experience for him! But, when the chips were finally down, your son was all man! You can be right proud of him, Mister Dawson.

The story ends on the Kid’s signature and more than a little stupid move. He rides off, leaving behind a good job and a life with folks who respect him.

I’m heading away from the sound of gun play and death...maybe I’ll find a more peaceful tomorrow...somewhere over the horizon! Adios!

Endings like this - and there were several of them throughout this title’s run - make me want to slap some sense into the Kid.


This is another solid and never reprinted in the USA adventure by my man Larry. It wasn’t one of his best, but it showed the Rawhide Kid using his brain as much as his lightning-fast draw. It had an interesting supporting character in Tom. The action flowed smoothly and worked with the story. I enjoyed it.

“The Mighty Marvel Checklist” follows page six of the story. From what I remember, my pick of that month in 1971 would have been Amazing Adventures #5 with Roy Thomas and Neal Adams coming on to the Inhumans and also featuring a Black Widow story. The runner up would have been Tower of Shadows #10 with a King Kull tale adapted from a Robert E. Howard story by Thomas and artist Berni Wrightson. Other listed titles: Fantastic Four #108, Amazing Spider-Man #94, Avengers #85, Thor #185, Hulk #137, Sub-Mariner #35, Iron Man #35, Daredevil #73, Sgt. Fury #85, Special Marvel Edition #2 and another dozen-and-a-half titles of super-hero reprints, monster and spooky reprints, western reprints, romance reprints, a new issue of Conan the Barbarian, the last new issues of Nick Fury and X-Men...and a "new" issue of Millie the Model with old stories redrawn by Stan Goldberg in the style aping current Archie comic books.

The other half of the page had a Marvelmania advertisement offering six, black-and-white self-portraits of Marvel artists Jack Kirby, John Buscema, John Romita, Gene Colan, Herb Trimpe and Steranko. The self-portraits were a “large” 8.5 by 11 inches. The cost of the set was $1.25 including postage and handling. These were published, but I didn’t see any being offered on eBay.

In a full-page ad, the Monster Fan Club was offering an “absolutely free, giant, life-size MOON MONSTER” poster with one’s membership in the club ($1.25 including postage and handling). There were also classified ads from comics dealers Howard Rogofsky, F.L. Buza, Doug Van Gordon, Passaic Book Center, Brain Laurence, Robert Bell, Grand Book Inc. and Comic Sales. For a quarter, you could receive full information on how “You can learn to draw comics at home from experts” and “earn big money.”

The “Marvel Bullpen Bulletins” page consists mostly of the writer of said name-dropping just about every one working for Marvel back then, some notes on where some of them went for vacation and a plug for Steranko’s The History of the Comics. This month’s “Stan Lee’s Soapbox” is a reworked piece on how, though Marvel’s comics are set in the United States, they belong to the world. I likely reprinted this one during my time as editor of The Mighty World of Marvel and other British weeklies.

The letters page features three reader missives. Wayne Manbleau of Concord, Massachusetts has a bug up his butt about every one of the western heroes being a “kid.” Apparently, the final straw was The Outlaw Kid. The unidentified Marvel staffer answering the letters says it’s kind of a tradition, which is less interesting than the truth. Publisher Martin Goodman thought putting “Kid” in the name of a western hero meant better sales.

James Rubina of Hollywood, Florida wants a Rawhide Kid annual, new stories of Kid Colt and Ringo Kid, a Kid Colt annual, the returns of Ghost Rider, Two-Gun Kid and the Black Rider, and new westerns drawn by Steranko, Kirby, Trimpe and Gil Kane. The letter answerer directs him to new Ghost Rider stories in Western Gunfighters.

David Kalis of Clayton, Missouri praises Rawhide Kid #79, quibbles about how Rawhide wears his hat and expresses his enthusiasms for  Werner Roth’s art and the new Gunhawk strip in Western Gunfighters. The answerer directs him to a Western Gunfighters story featuring both the Ghost Rider and Gunhawk.
The letters page is followed by a full-page house ad for Kid Colt Outlaw #152 [February 1971]. The issue has a new Herb Trimpe cover  and contains four Kid Colt reprints from 1959 and 1960. The stories were written by Stan Lee, pencilled by Jack Keller and inked by Joe Sinnott (two stories) and Christopher Rule (one) with the remaining tale possibly inked by Doug Wildey. That speculation seems shaky to me, but I don’t have the issue to make my own determination.

That’s all for today’s edition of Rawhide Kid Wednesday. Look for another Rawhide Wednesday next week. I’ll also be back soon with all sorts of other stuff.

Let the bloggy thing be with you!  

© 2016 Tony Isabella

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