Monday, July 18, 2011

Of Kids, Outlaws and Rangers

First Issue: 1955
The Rawhide Kid
The Rawhide Kid (Johnny Bart), created by Stan Lee and Bob Brown, is arguably the most popular of Western cowboy heroes in a comic book, with The Lone Ranger close behind. Published by Marvel, The Rawhide Kid bears close resemblance to Oliver Strange's Wild West character Sudden (James Green)—fast guns wanted for crimes they never committed. Like Sudden, the Kid fights injustice wherever he goes.

Jesse James
First Issue: 1990
The legendary Jesse James was an outlaw—a murderer and a robber—in real life. He was only 35 when Robert Ford, a gang member, shot him from behind in 1882. Ironically, over the next 100 years and more, Jesse James became a "hero" in both film and television, with a line of Hollywood actors taking turns to play the dreaded outlaw. In 1990, AC Comics published its first Jesse James comic book. According to Wikipedia, in 1969, artist Morris and writer RenĂ© Goscinny (co-creator of Asterix) had Lucky Luke confronting Jesse James, in what appeared to be a parody of the famous gunslinger.

First Issue: 1949
The Durango Kid
American actor Charles Starrett gave a face and a name to The Durango Kid, the Western hero, who ruled the silver screen for several years—starring in as many as 70 films. The comics came much later, in 1949, when Magazine Enterprises approached Columbia Pictures about publishing a Durango Kid comic book that used scenes from the film series. The Durango Kid, whose real name is Bill Lowry, is a ranch owner out to avenge his father's cold-blooded murder.

First Issue: 1957

Billy the Kid
Billy the Kid, like Jesse James, too existed, as William Henry McCarty, Henry Antrim and William H. Bonney, but lived fewer years than Jesse. He killed many by the time he died at the young age of 22. Unlike in real life, Billy is portrayed as the outlaw who stood for justice in his namesake comic book published by Charlton Comics from 1957 through 1983.

First Issue: 1944

The Cisco Kid
Here's another well-known gunman who is no paragon of virtue. The Cisco Kid, a fictional Western character created by O. Henry in a 1907 short story, is a 25-year-old outlaw who works the Texas-Mexico border region. He is believed to have killed some 20 people. Baily Publishing first published Cisco Kid Comics in 1944 but it was Dell Comics that made him still more notorious from 1950 through 1958.

First Issue: 1948
The Lone Ranger 
The Lone Ranger comic book was preceded by radio, television and film series by a good number of years, before Western Publishing and Dell Comics jointly published the first comic about the popular masked Texas Ranger and his white stallion, Hi-Yo Silver, in 1948. It lasted 145 issues, until July 1962. Later, in 1964, Western Publishing launched Gold Key Comics that brought out more Lone Ranger comics till 1977. The Lone Ranger is the cowboy incarnation of Zorro.

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