Wednesday, August 23, 2017


RESOLVED: The Rawhide Kid is my favorite western comics character and one of my favorite comics characters period.  This is why I’ve written over a hundred columns about him. Something about his short stature, but large courage, honor and fighting skills speaks to me.  After rereading the Kid’s earliest adventures when Marvel reprinted them in a pair of Marvel Masterworks and an Essential Rawhide Kid volume, I decide to reacquire every Rawhide Kid comic, reread them and write about them. We’ve reached the title’s extended twilight.  We’ve seen the last new Rawhide Kid story that will appear in the now-bimonthly reprint series. This is the 119th installment of my “Rawhide Kid Wednesday” columns.

The Rawhide Kid #132 [March 1976] reprints the Dick Ayers and Frank Giacoia cover of The Rawhide Kid #61 [December 1967]. The changes to the original cover are the white background, which I find more effective the original red background, and re-lettering and moving the two original cover blurbs. Marvel wasn’t expending much effort on this reprint title at this time.

“Shotgun to Deadwood” (17 pages) is reprinted from issue #61 sans any cuts or editorial alterations that I could spot. The adventure features Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane. The story was written by Gary Friedrich, penciled by Ayers and inked by Vinnie Colletta. I wrote about this story here.

There are 15 “classified ads” in this issue, 13 from mail-order comics dealers, one for a Spider-Man record and one for cartooning lessons. There are four pages of Marvel house ads, a Marvel Bullpen Bulletins page, a Hostess ad starring Spider-Man, and a pin-up page that also includes the annual “statement of ownership, management and circulation.” There are paid ads as well and we’ll talk about them today as well.

The inside front cover was a Johnson Smith ad offering a whole lot of different items: kung fu lessons, a Planet of the Apes mask, an automatic hypnotizer, a vibrating shocker and more. I’d love to see someone create a super-villain whose arsenal consists of souped-up novelty items from Johnson Smith.

Another full-page paid ad sold “10 Super Great Iron-On Transfers” for $1.35 with postage. These badly-drawn transfers were offered by “Super Values,” which had the same 575 Madison Avenue address that Marvel had. Sharing another full-page ad were Slim Jim (smoked beef snacks) and Grit (“America’s Greatest Family Weekly Publication”).

“Put the Hulk under Someone’s Christmas Tree!” proclaimed the first Marvel house ad of the issue. The suggested gift items: t-shirts of Spider-Man, Hulk, Captain America, Thor Fantastic Four, as well as covers of Marvel Double Feature and Captain Marvel. Adult sizes were $3.99 each and kid sizes were $4 each. Sweat shirts of Spider-Man, the Hulk, and Captain America were $5 each.

Half-page paid ads offered lessons on how to customize cars, vans and more - the brochure was free - and how to become “a master of  karate.” You could get the martial arts book and a “giant life-like karate practice dummy” for $1.98. I’m guessing the practice dummy was just a poster.

Marvel’s next full page house ad divided between subscriptions for Marvel comic books and magazines and a FOOM fan club ad heralding the return of Jack Kirby to Marvel. Jack was back, if only for a couple memorable years. That page was followed by another full-page house ad, this one split between Crazy Magazine and the Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man treasury edition.

Joe Weider - “The World’s Most Famous Muscle Man” - was shilling 16 muscle-building courses for a buck. You would get four issues and a $5 gift certificate that could be applied against the purchase of any of Weider’s doubtless much more expensive muscle builders.

The Marvel Bullpen Bulletins page again opens a window as to what was happening at Marvel at this time. “Stan Lee’s Soapbox” talked about upcoming conventions in Miami and New York...asked readers to entreat their newsstand dealers to order more copies of the Marvel comic books...and hinted at a third collection of classic stories to follow the very successful Origins of Marvel Comics and Son of Origins of Marvel Comics.

The first news item reported that Fantastic Four and cover artist Rich Buckler had moved back to New York, that Ghost Rider writer Tony Isabella had moved back to Cleveland and that Steve Englehart had just gotten married.

The next item announced the debuts of the Guardians of the Galaxy series in Marvel Presents and the Tigra series in Marvel Chillers. Steve Gerber and Al Milgrom were noted as the Guardians team, but neither myself nor artist Will Meugniot were so much as mentioned for the Tigra feature.

Item three was all about the sword-and-sorcery heroes and heroine. Frank Thorne was drawing Red Sonja in Marvel Feature. John Buscema was penciling Conan with inks by Steve Gan. Kull the Destroyer was waiting in the wings.

The final item lauded George Perez and his love for drawing super-hero teams. Mentioned were Fantastic Four, Avengers, Inhumans and Sons of the Tiger.

The Bullpen page ended with a teaser image of Icarus from Kirby’s new Eternals series. No names. Just the image.

Next to the Bullpen Bulletins Page, we get the one-page “Spider-Man and the Cupcake Caper” ad for Hostess Cup Cakes. Peter Parker and Mary Jane are about to enjoy the tasty treats when our hero spots a rampaging Man-Mountain Marko on the street. He tells MJ he must buy milk, stops Marko and then returns to find she’s eaten all the cupcakes. I’m not sure who drew this page. I see some Jim Mooney, I see some Ross Andru, I see some John Romita and I see some Frank Giacoia inks. If anyone can give a more definitive identification, I’d be thrilled to include that information here.

The final editorial page is “A Marvel Masterwork Pin-Up” taken from the cover of The Rawhide Kid #74 [February 1970]. The same pin-up had appeared just two issues earlier, but, here, it’s been reduced in size for the title’s annual “statement of ownership, management and circulation.”

As best I can tell with the ad of a magnifying glass, the average total paid circulation of The Rawhide Kid was 143,972 per issue. For the single issue nearest to the filling date, the title sold 129,305. It has widely been suggested that these numbers were often made up on the spot. I wouldn’t doubt it.

That’s all for this edition of “Rawhide Kid Wednesday.” I’ll have another one for you next week.

As for tomorrow, I hope to present a fuller report of my July trip to Burbank to meet with the writers of the Black Lightning TV show. Because of the increasing interest in all things Jefferson Pierce, you can probably expect at least one Black Lightning bloggy thing every week and sometimes more than one.

If you have questions, e-mail them to me. I’ll do my best to answer the ones I’m allowed to answer in a timely fashion.

See you tomorrow, my friends.

© 2017 Tony Isabella


  1. "I’d love to see someone create a super-villain whose arsenal consists of souped-up novelty items from Johnson Smith."

    Did you ever hear of "The League of Super Groovy Crimefighters"? From their listing on Atomic Avenue: "This brightly colored title from Ancient Studios flashes back to the swinging years of the 1970s and those bizarre ads for lame novelty items that used to litter comic books. For example, bow-and-arrow sets, martial-arts-training-by-mail, mood rings, x-ray spectacles, bodybuilding courses, croquet mallets, electronics-degrees-by-mail, etc. In this hipster universe, those items and offers worked far better than some of their purchasers could have ever dreamed, inspiring them to band together as the League of Super Groovy Crimefighters and rid New York City of injustice. Funny—if somewhat crudely drawn—this title revisits the slang, the fashions, and the blaxploitation of a bygone era."

    And now all five issues are as close as your Kindle! Merely click on and enjoy.

    1. Brad...while I appreciate the suggestion and did buy the comics for my Kindle, I have to say they were, well, pretty awful comic books. Of course, the good news is that these were so far removed from what I was thinking of and so bad that, should I choose to pursue my notion, I could do so with clean hands.

  2. Glad I could help. Seriously, it's just as well to know what's out there -- lets you avoid unpleasant surprises.