Thursday, June 27, 2013

Add It To My Want List: Western Kid #4

I am a real sucker for Atlas-era westerns and have owned a ton of them over the years. Sadly, most of those were sold on eBay years ago to help pay to keep my house standing (I kept my Outlaw Kids!). I am actually not a huge fan of the Western Kid character. He always came across as the blandest of the 1950s group of 'Kids'. I like John Romita a lot, but he certainly became a more dynamic artist through the 60s adn 70s. Bill Everett, on the other hand, was a master from Day One and this particular issue includes an Everett-drawn tale from Quick-Trigger Western #14 (September, 1956). From what I have seen, Quick-Trigger might have been the strongest of the Atlas western anthologies and can be quite pricey these days. By tracking down this one, I can enjoy some of that 50s western magic for a fraction of the price.


Four-Color Kid said...

Western Kid "blandest of the 1950s group of 'Kids'"!?!

Au contraire!
Please let me make my case.

I love Atlas era cowboys as well. With art by John Severin, Russ Heath, Doug Wildey, Jack Keller, Joe Maneely...

But the original issues are kind of pricey, even in lower grades. I recently started to buy a few when I can get a good deal on EBay. But for most of my collecting life I bought them in reprint form. Too bad Marvel has yet to put out some western-themed ATLAS ERA MASTERWORKS, Doug Wildey's OUTLAW KID certainly would be a good start. And, for me, Romita's Western Kid would be close second.

I discovered Western Kid when I first started to read comics as a young boy. The first two comic book series I followed religiously were AMAZING SPIDER-MAN during the Romita (sr.) era, and Larry Leiber's era of RAWHIDE KID. I read those in french black and white editions by Editions Héritage. These editions always had back-up stories in them. Most of them were short stories from Atlas era monsters and/or westerns.
Because I was in complete AWE of John Romita's art on Spidey, it was always a treat to me when the back-up was a Western Kid tale.

Western Kid was original in his own way. Most (if not all)other Atlas/Marvel 'Kids' were either outlaws on the run (wrongly accused of course) or hid under secret identities. Not so with Tex Dawson, he had nothing to hide and no stain on his reputation. Also, Western Kid was the only one with a dog partner. And the best part: awesome John Romita Drew all of his stories with that smooth Sickles-inspired inkline.

Western Kid may have seem bland to some (wink!), but I would argue that he was more on the classic model of earlier, old school cowboys.

He was the only Atlas cowboy not afraid to wear red flowers on a loud yellow shirt! Hum...come to think of it... If we substitute 'Lightning' for 'Bullet', and 'Whirlwind' for 'Trigger' and you basically get Roy Rogers!

Anyway, I wasn't the only one who loved the Western Kid because Marvel kept him in reprints during the Bronze Age: mainly in the WESTERN GUNFIGHTERS anthology, and in his own 5 issues WESTERN KID series. Then Marvel tried to make him less 'bland' (heh!)I guess by renaming him GUN-SLINGER! (also erasing the flowers on his shirt!) and tried-out no less than 3 different logos on the 3-isssue reprint series! Issue # 1 was titled TEX DAWSON, GUN-SLINGER, #2 was simply GUN-SLINGER, and #3 was THEY CALL HIM... GUN-SLINGER.

Along with Rawhide Kid, Kid Colt, Apache Kid, Outlaw Kid and Ringo Kid, Western Kid was among the classic Marvel stable of cowboys who stayed in print until the sad day when westerns got completely squeezed out by the superheroes.

Scott M said...

Great response! I don't know why, but the Western Kid just never really clicked with me. Outlaw Kid is definitely my fave from the Atlas era. I think Romita's storytelling improve through the late 50s and into the early 60s to the point where he became a master.

I have some of thoe EH! books as well, and always dig the wide variety of back-up materials.