Wednesday, September 14, 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 87th installment in that series.

The Rawhide Kid #101 [July 1972] has a Gil Kane cover illustrating the 14-page “I Shot Jesse James!”  It’s a fill-in story written by Gary Friedrich with Dick Ayers (pencils) and George Roussos (inks). Lettered by Jean Izzo, the yarn was likely colored by Roussos. We are still a ways from Marvel crediting the colorists of its comics on a regular basis.


The Rawhide Kid rides up on a lynch mob getting ready to hang Bob Ford (“that dirty little coward”) for shooting Jesse James in the back. Not realizing who Ford is, the Kid rescues him from the mob. Rawhide and Ford makes for the hills, specifically a secret cavern hideaway that Jesse had set up before he retired from his life of crime and became “Mr. Howard.”

Rawhide ain’t thrilled to be sharing the cave with a back-shooter, but he’s not about to turn Ford over to the mob. Distasteful as he finds Ford’s treacherous act, the Kid knows James was wanted dead or alive and Ford was within his rights to gun him down. The law of the West was not a forgiving one.

Ford tries to explain himself. James was the brains of the gang. Without him, half of its members were killed and the rest weren’t succeeding in their chosen criminal profession. Ford begged James to return. When James refused, Ford shot his former friend in the back for the reward.

Surprise! Some of the unhappy gang members figured Ford would show up at the cave sooner or later and have been waiting for him. They plan to shoot Ford down. Rawhide again saves Ford. But the only way out of the cavern is past the very angry gentlemen whose guns were shot out of their hands by the Kid.

Surrounded once again, Ford clubs Rawhide with a rock. He tells the gang members they can turn the Kid in for a big reward and retire from their lives of crime. Their response:

That’s your trouble, Bob! The only code you got is money! And all the money in the world won’t bring Jesse back!

The Rawhide Kid responds:

And neither will all the killin’!

Rawhide sends the gang members packing, warning them to hightail it out of there before that earlier posse that wanted to execute Ford decides they would be acceptable substitutes for hanging. The gang members take the Kid’s advice.

Ford was shot in the fracus, but will survive. He wants to team up with Rawhide being as how they are both outcasts and all. The Kid sets him straight:

How long would that last, Ford? Until the next time I turned my back on you?!...I feel sorry for you, ‘cause there’s no place big enough for you to hide!

Maybe you’ll make it...maybe you won’t...but you’re gonna spend the rest of your days wonderin’ when somebody’ll gun you in the back the way you gunned Jesse!

So long! I’d wish you good luck...but somehow the words’d stick in my throat!


I didn’t care much for this story in 1972 and I care for it less in 2016. Though Jesse James is already dead by the start of the yarn, Friedrich characterizes him as some kind of Robin Hood-type outlaw. History says you’re wrong if you believe that.

There’s no evidence that James ever gave away any of his ill-gotten gains to the poor. Wikipedia describes him as an “American outlaw, guerrilla, gang leader, bank robber, train robber, and murderer.” 
James was a Confederate guerrilla/bushwhacker during the Civil War. After the war and the end of the Confederate States of America, he robbed banks, stagecoaches and trains. He was part of an army
fighting for a vile union of depreciable slave owners and he became a murderous outlaw. He was no hero.

As for Ford, who murdered James on April 3, 1882, he lived ten more years. With his older brother, he performed paid re-enactments of his killing of James at publicity events. He drifted around the Old West, operating dance halls and saloons.

According to Wikipedia, on June 8, 1892, “Ford was shot to death at the age of 30 in Creede, Colorado, by Edward Capehart O'Kelley, who attacked him in Ford's temporary tent saloon. Ford was first buried in Creede. His remains were later moved and re-interred at Richmond Cemetery in Richmond in Ray County, Missouri.”

On his grave marker: The man who shot Jesse James

The Rawhide Kid was born in 1850. That would make him roughly 32 at the time of this story.

The “Marvel Bullpen Bulletins” page runs after page 6 of the above story. Half of it is devoted to a glowing report on the “A Marvel-ous Evening with Stan Lee” presentation that was held on January 5 at Carnegie Hall and to the “Stan’s Soapbox” column that apologizes for not being able to tell comic-book readers about it beforehand. This was a legendary event, but there are differing opinions as to whether it was good legendary or bad legendary. I wish it had been recorded so that I could make my own judgment.

The rest of the month’s announcements are shoved into about a sixth of the page. Dr. Strange by Stan Lee and Barry Smith.  Ant-Man by Mike Friedrich and Herb Trimpe. Teases about ongoing titles for The Defenders and Warlock. Kull the Conqueror returns with art by Marie and John Severin. Conan the Barbarian is back to monthly again. Harlan Ellison plotted an issue of The Avengers drawn by “Marvel’s newest star artist” Rich Buckler. The story was originally pitched to Julius Schwartz for Hawkman.

“The Mighty Marvel Checklist” includes stuff like Spider-Man versus the Gibbon in Amazing Spider-Man; The Hulk on trial; Capt. America and the Falcon battling Scorpion and Mr. Hyde; Daredevil fighting Electro and Killgrave...and Sgt. Fury #100. By this time, thanks to my having a full-time job and minimal living expenses, I was able to buy every mainstream comic book being published. I was determined to write for comic books and wasn’t picky about what kind of comic book and which company would accomplish that.

There were some unusual ads in this issue of The Rawhide Kid. There was a two-page centerfold spread for the Record Club of America. However, the centerfold effect was compromised by the glossy four-page insert attached to the center of the comic.

This insert contained a full-page ad for a “Peace Officer Training  Service followed by a centerfold spread for National Diamond Sales. The final page of the insert offered sexy lingerie from someplace called the California Gift Center. The dainties shown included the “Leapin’ Leopard” ($11.95), the “Magic Moment” ($12.95}, the “Peek-a-Boo” ($13.95), the “Playmate” ($11.95) and the “Coming Home” at $12.95. The last was described as a “lacy, dainty sheer nylon short nightie set to display her charms. Matching bikini panties. White, black or red. Small, medium, large.” Hubba hubba.

The second story in this issue was “Ambush” by Stan Lee with art by Fred Kida. The six-page story originally appeared in Quick Trigger Western #17 [April 1957]. 


Shotgun guard Pecos Rork is doing that guarding thing for a wagon train heading to Texas. He bemoans the fact that the wagon train is filled with tenderfeet. Not a lot of able-bodied men among them and that could spell trouble down the trail.

Rork takes a dislike to the quiet man who spends his time reading books. Rork tries to pick a gunfight with the man, but the man is having no part of it. That’s about when the wagon train is attacked by Comanches.

Rork and the settlers try to hold off their attackers, but they’re outnumbered. The quiet man tells Rork to take the women to cover. He’ll handle the Comanches:

The trouble is you men have been wastin’ yore shots...there’s only one Injun yuh have to hit...Sequota, the war chief!

The quiet man shoots and wounds Sequota. By Comanche custom, these braves won’t attack again for 24 hours after their chief has been wounded. Rork asks how the man knew this:

Shucks, it wuzn’t so much! I aim to be a frontiersman someday, so I done a lot of readin’ on it, that’s all!

The man’s traveling companion adds:

Yep, someday yuh’ll all be hearing of young Dan’l Boone...I promise yuh that!


Stan clearly loved stories where the main character turns out to be a historical figure. He didn’t seem to love doing the research to get the history of those figures right. Sometimes these stories are fun. This one? Not so much.

The “Ridin’ the Trail with Rawhide” letters page appears after the first page of “Ambush!”. This letters page has one very long letter by Robert A. Gillis of Elmsford, New York...and the almost-as-long response from the Marvel staffer who put together the page. Gillis wrote a title-by-title rundown of all of Marvel’s westerns. It’s an interesting exchange, so let’s see if I can manage to scan it for your edification:

Although The Rawhide Kid wouldn’t end until issue #151, we are just a year or so away from the last new story to appear in the title. By my count, we have eleven new stories to come. Once I’ve written about all of the new stories, I’ll cover the all-reprint issues two or three issues at a time. After that...?

That’s it for this edition of “Rawhide Kid Wednesday.” I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2016 Tony Isabella


  1. "Ford was shot in the fracas, but will survive." He's lucky. Those fracas wounds can be serious.
    This reminds me of my favorite exchange from a Thin Man movie:
    Myrna Loy: I read you were shot in the tabloids.
    William Powell: That's a lie! They didn't come anywhere near my tabloids!

    Steve Leavell

  2. Got to admit, I'm one of those collectors who removes the cardstock inserts of any comic I buy, the two-page kind or the smaller, frequently subscription reply type cards. Can't-stan-zum! Possibly influenced by reading about Harlan Ellison removing the cigarette ads from magazines and paperbacks.

  3. Thanks for reprinting my letter. I only have a couple of comics still in my possession including several Rawhide Kids but not this one.