Wednesday, August 2, 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 118th installment of my “Rawhide Kid Wednesday” columns.  

The Rawhide Kid #131 [January 1976] is the cover from The Rawhide Kid #60 [October 1967], somewhat altered to work with the then-current Marvel cover format but without any obvious retouching. The cover was pencilled by Dick Ayers with inks by Herb Trimpe.

“Massacre at Medicine Bend” (17 pages) was by Gary Friedrich and Denny O’Neil with art by Ayers and Trimpe. The story is unaltered from its original appearance. I wrote about it on July 3, 2013 and you can read my comments here.

Replacing what would have been the letters column in a Marvel comic book featuring new  material, we got “A Marvel Masterworks Pin-Up” of the Rawhide Kid by Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers with retouching by Marie Severin. The image came from the cover of The Rawhide Kid #20 [February 1961]. The original cover is shown below.

There are many comics-related ads in this issue. Some of them are even paid advertisements. There are 15 “classified ads” from mail-order comics dealers, a pair of “how to draw cartoons” pitches and a mysterious ad aimed at fans of Conan the Barbarian:

Free information on valuable collector’s item concerning R.E. Howard’s Conan. Free gift. Send name and address to Moondance Productions, Dept. M, Box 425, Wilmington, Vt. 05363

My quick online search revealed Moondance produced dramatizations of REH’s Conan stories. I couldn’t find any evidence the company is still in business.

The first of the Marvel house ads is a full-page ad advertising Son of Origins of Marvel Comics and the nigh-legendary Mighty Marvel Bicentennial Calendar, which was written and edited by yours truly. The 12-month calendar featured mash-ups of Marvel heroes with the events of that pivotal year in American history. I’m pleased to say none of the artists I contacted for this calendar thought I was out of my mind. They had all worked with me before so they knew I was out of my mind.

There was a full-page paid ad for Big Jim’s P.A.C.K. (Professional Agents/Crime Killers). Produced by Mattel, the “Big Jim” brand was originally used for sports action figures. This new incarnation was possibly inspired by Doc Savage and definitely enlivened by Mattel hiring Jack Kirby to design the characters. I’m fairly sure Kirby did the art for this advertisement.

The next house ad was a full-page pitch for two Marvel Treasuries: The Mighty Avengers and The Savage Fists of Kung Fu. That Kung Fu special reprinted a long story conceived and edited by me. That story featured Shang-Chi, Iron Fist and the Sons of the Tiger sans any actual meeting between the heroes.

Not shown here is a full-page ad for The Zane Grey Library. If you joined you would received three matching volumes containing Riders of the Purple Sage, The Thunder Herd and Wild Horse Mesa. Each of these hardcover books were only $4.39 each. Once you signed up, if you were happy with the books, you would receive additional novels at the same price. I mention this paid advertisement here because it struck me as brilliant for the publisher to promote their Zane Grey western novels in a western comic book.

This issue’s Marvel Bullpen Bulletins page was nearly 100% pitches for Marvel publications. “Stan Lee’s Soapbox” plugged Celebrity, a new non-comics magazine and Son of Origins of Marvel Comics. Stan also talked about a live-action Spider-Man movie and his upcoming speaking engagement at John Hopkins University in Baltimore. Though we didn’t get a Spider-Man movie back then, we’ve gotten a bunch of them in recent years.

As for the rest of the Bullpen Bulletins page, so many plugs that I’m just going to list the titles and features: Marvel Premiere, Marvel Spotlight, Iron Fist, Son of Satan, The Liberty Legion, Wood-God, Moon Knight, Vision, Nighthawk, The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, Guardians of the Galaxy, Tigra, Bloodstone, Modred the Mystic, Marvel Presents, Marvel Chillers, Red Sonja, Invaders, Conan, Fantastic Four, Marvel Two-In-One, a Dracula/Doctor Strange team-up, a Thing/Hulk/Fantastic Four continuity of some sort and Werewolf by Night. Whew!

The next-to-final item on the Bullpen page promised the return of the Mighty Marvel Checklist in a month or three. I’ll let you know if that turns up in future issues of Rawhide Kid.

The final item was about the Fantastic Four radio show then airing on stations across the country. The item lists just over two dozen stations, including Philadelphia, Boston, San Diego, Grand Rapids and Columbus, Ohio. Bill Murray did the voice of the Human Torch. There were 13 episodes of the series.

Next to the Bullpen Bulletins Page, we get the one-page “Spider-Man and the Kidnap Caper” ad for Hostess Twinkies. Ross Andru pencilled the page. My guess for the page’s inker would be Mike Esposito or Frank Giacoia or them working in tandem as they sometimes did. The identity of the page’s writer is not known to me, but the safe bet is that is was a Marvel editor or staffer.

Following the end of the Rawhide Kid story and the afore-mentioned pin-up page, we get a Superhero Merchandise ad. Offered on the page are seven different Mego dolls at $4.28 each. That price includes postage and handling. The Color a Comic Kit is $5.44 and the Super-Giant Spider-Man Puzzle is $4.67. I’ve seen the Mego figures, but not the color kit or the puzzle.

The inside back cover ad is for Hudson’s Spider-Man vitamins. The vitamins without iron cost $2.49 for 60 tablets and $3.59 for 100 tablets. The vitamins with iron cost $2.79 for 60 tablets and $3.99 for 100 tables. If you ordered the vitamins, you got a free Spider-Man poster.

I’m including the back cover ad for various Evel Knievel toys here because I kinda sorta see Murphy Anderson’s touch in the drawings. But I’m not married to my identification and would welcome comments from far better art detectives than myself.

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

I’ll have something else for you in tomorrow’s bloggy thing, but I won’t know what until I write it. See you then.

© 2017 Tony Isabella


  1. I have one of those CONAN LPs in my possession. It is a full-cast adaptation of two REH tales: "The Tower of the Elephant" and "The Frost Giant's Daughter". The second audio adaptation was produced as a pilot for a potential CONAN radio show. "The Tower of the Elephant" (adapted by Roy Thomas) was produced so that both stories could be released as an album which was released in 1975.

    Album Cover:

    Andrew Laubacher

  2. According to a chat I had with Mark Evanier about ten years ago, Jack Kirby did indeed do most of the design and "plotting" for the Big Jim's PACK toyline for Mattel. (From memory, the ad art is a paste-up of Kirby's box art for the various figures.)

    After a second flight of figures/toys, Mattel terminated Kirby's contract with no explanation given. According to Mark, Jack believed someone at DC threatened the toymaker that they'd be shut out of any licensing for the upcoming Superman movie unless they fired him.

    (My own suspicion is that he was half-right, but the culprit was Marvel rather than DC, as Mattel had licensed a PACK comic to Marvel and they were probably unwilling to have Kirby work on it. I think Sal Buscema wound up doing the comic art and the remainder of the packaging art for Mattel.)