You don't often hear about the Wyatt Earp title that Stan Lee and Dick Ayers did from 1957-1960. That's a shame because the few issues I've seen over the years have been thoroughly swell comics. When Wyatt Earp #27 [February, 1960] came my way recently, I knew I had to share it with you.
I love the Ayers cover. The grim Earp on the left side is not a man to be taken lightly. The cover design, the side panels, that doubtless-written-by-Lee cover copy, they add up to a sales pitch I wouldn't have been able to resist if I had ever seen this issue on a comics rack. Sadly, distribution of Atlas/Marvel titles was pretty spotty before Fantastic Four came along. The writing and art just shine in this issue. The three Earp stories all have a different tone. "The Return of the Dorado Kid" is a object lesson about the Kid's obsessive quest for vengeance on the lawman who arrested him; his hatred robs him of any chance to turn his life around.
"The Challenge of Bull Thompson" is a comedy in which a giant mountain-man comes to Dodge seeking to win a wife by clobbering her other suitors. I laughed out loud at the story's final panel, the punch line to a well-told joke.
"When Wyatt Went Wild!" is as serious as it gets in a Comics Code-approved western. When looters rob a family of everything it worked for and flee beyond Earp's jurisdiction, the marshal takes off his badge to pursue them. Though he doesn't go Frank Castle on the looters, he is absolutely unrelenting as he tracks and brings them to justice.
The only not-Earp comics story is the four-page "Beware! Here Comes The Gunhawk!" by Lee and artist Doug Wildey. This is an odd one. A sheriff with an injured arm is celebrating the birth of his third child when an anxious rider races into town to tell him that Gunhawk Grimes, who is supposed to be the fastest gun in the state, is looking for a gunfight with the sheriff. Everybody frets, but the sheriff plans to stand his ground.
Shots are heard in the hills. Then we learn Grimes has been killed by the Apaches. The sheriff's wife makes her first and only appearance in the tale and looking pretty spry for a woman who just gave birth, says she prayed for him to be saved. He responds: "I reckon, darlin' that someone heard your prayers!"
It was amazingly generous of the Apaches to help out God that way, especially since He wasn't near as helpful to them when those hordes of European immigrants were stealing their land and killing them and such. I'm just saying.
When I look at a comic, I always take note of the extras to be found therein. This issue was a pretty nice package. Besides the four comics stories and the two-page text story that I didn't read, this ish had three feature pages. Shown above is "Wyatt's Western Hoss Quiz," which also contained facts on equine coloration and a diagram of a riding bridle. I scored 100% on the quiz.
Shown below is one of two pin-up pages for readers to color. This one is of Deputy Marshal Grizzly Grant, one of a long line of hulking sidekicks Ayers got to draw at Marvel. Nick Fury had Dum-Dum Dugan, the Two-Gun Kid had Boom-Boom Brown, and Wyatt had ol' Grizzly. I wish I had me a hulking sidekick.
The other pin-up/coloring page was of Earp himself.
I have a fascination for Marvel's pre-Fantastic Four comics, so expect me to write about them from time to time. Or as often as I can score affordable issues on eBay.
CARTOONISTS ACROSS AMERICA & THE WORLD
For starters, I'll let CAA founder Phil Yeh's website speak for itself:
Cartoonists Across America & The World is an ever-widening circle of dedicated artists, living in many nations, who all believe firmly that art, music and reading must play a central role in the health of our communities, great and small. We are dedicated to enhancing public appreciation and understanding of the arts, and to promote reading, music and art on our World-Wide TOUR since 1985.
We have been fulfilling this mission through the publication of fine books for all ages, comics with humor, and through a hands-on WORLD TOUR, creating fun mural events with the grassroots support of local sponsors and media. Our founder PHIL YEH is the Godfather of the American Graphic Novel, and our circle of artists create books, paint murals, take part in school assemblies, conventions, conferences and other public events for all ages throughout the world.
Since 1985, we have been ON THE ROAD, promoting literacy, creativity, the arts, and other positive issues by using cartoons and humor. We have painted more than 1600 murals in 49 of the United States, as well as in Canada, Mexico, Italy, England, France, Germany, Hungary, The Netherlands, China, Taiwan, Singapore, and the Cayman Islands.
Since October of 1970, Phil Yeh has published well over 80 (eighty!) books. We work in partnership with the Center for The Book in the Library of Congress and other fine organizations all over the world.
You can learn about this fine organization and Phil's own work by visiting the website at:
I've been corresponding with Phil off and on for years and, in a recent exchange, I asked if I could share his informative notes with my readers here. He generously gave me the okay, so, as often as possible, I'll be running them here.
Starting with this one:
I've been doing these Graphic Novel Workshops since the summer of 2005 and have appeared in schools and libraries all over the country. (I'm hoping to get back to Ohio in April.) They are for all ages and, although we target teens mostly, the truth is that we are getting all ages to these fun workshops. I bill myself as the Godfather of the American Graphic Novel having published one of the very first all-new material graphic novels in this country in 1977. In the summer of 2007, we will release a brand new Cazco GN to mark the 30th anniversary of the first one in '77
The first graphic novel I did with Cazco was called EVEN CAZCO GETS THE BLUES with introductions by Sergio Aragones and Don Rico. This new book is called CAZCO: WHAT A LONG STRANGE TRIP IT'S BEEN. It covers the Cazco character from his first days in college at Cal State University Long Beach (as a daily comic strip the first week I attended college in 1972) and is the story of how he has traveled the world for the last 35 years seeking a publisher for his work, and how he failed all this time but had some amazing adventures along the way. I'm targeting the book for my generation first and hopefully it will cross over and interest the more enlightened and literate of the current generation in the United States and all over the world.
We will debut this new Cazco graphic novel on June 1-3 at the BookExpoAmerica convention in New York City as we debuted the very first one in 1977 at the then American Booksellers Association con in Los Angeles. I was one of the very first comic-book publishers to have a booth at the ABA (now BEA) and, in the 1970s, championed the graphic novel form to many fellow artists and publishers all over the United States through my own paper UNCLE JAM, which was distributed throughout the state of California and at all the comic book and science fiction conventions.
It was my dear friend Richard Kyle of Wonderworld Books, later Richard Kyle Books, who gets credit for the term "graphic novel." It all took place in the seaside city of Long Beach, California, where we started publishing in 1970. Richard coined the term in 1964. I'm telling some of that history as well...since we get overlooked by the comic-book press. Sadly, since the Cartoonists Across America tour started in 1985, I've almost been erased by the comics industry. I suppose this is our way of setting the record straight and encouraging a new generation to see the real potential of this art form.
We also championed this art form to libraries long before the rest of the publishers caught on. Our work through the schools and libraries and the mainstream media has always been a tough road since we usually were 5-10 years ahead of the crowd.
Thanks again for the offer to help spread the word. I really would love to get the word out more about the 22-year tour we have done and the 3 remaining years we have to go. When it is all said and done, we will have been on the road for 25 years using comics and humor to promote literacy and the arts all over the world. I doubt that any other cartoonist has spoken to more people in that period of time through in-person appearances and also through the media. I'm very proud of our efforts but sad we didn't get more support from the media and the powers that be in our own industry. It just shows me that the comic book industry still has a way to go in this nation.
Watch TOT for regular updates from Phil, including the cover of his new book.
GET MORE TONY
Uncle Scrooge #361 [$7.50] has another of the stories I "script-doctored" for Gemstone. "Foul Play in Funworld," wherein Gyro Gearloose takes on the job of renovating an amusement park for Scrooge McDuck, was written by Gail Renard and Peter Härdfeldt with art by Härdfeldt. It crams a lot of frantic action and visual gags into its eight pages. I had a blast working on it.
The issue also features:
Uncle Scrooge in "Oddball Odyssey" by Carl Barks, originally published in Uncle Scrooge #40 [April, 1963];
Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge in "Filthy Rich" by John Lustig and artist Jose Colomer Fonts;
Most every Tuesday, I post new TONY POLLS questions for your voting entertainment. However, since some real-life stuff got in between me and last week's columns, I'm extending the current poll questions by another week. Here are the questions or reasonable facsimiles thereof...
Online comicdom is abuzz with news of a vile wannabe publisher who has failed to pay creators for work and threatened to sue them for going public with this information. Would you support - as in "with donations" - an CBLDF-type organization, a Comics Creators Legal Offense Fund, to aid creators in legal action against such publishers?
Would you support a comics industry version of the Better Business Bureau whose purpose would be to warn comics creators and fans of such publishers?
Would you buy comics published by such a publisher?
DC Comics swept this question last week, so I'm taking them off the list and asking it again, whose comic books and other items did you enjoy the most in 2006?
ZERO: Burn your money before buying any comic receiving this rating. It doesn't *necessarily* mean there's absolutely nothing of value here - though it *could* - but whatever value it might possess shrinks into insignificance before its overall awfulness.
ONE: Buy something else. Maybe I found something which wasn't completely dreadful in the item, but not enough for me to recommend it when there are better comics available. I only want what's best for you, my children.
TWO: Basic judgment call. I found some value, but not enough to recommend it. My review should give you enough info to decide if you want to take a chance on it. Are you feeling lucky today, punk? Well, are you?
THREE: This denotes something I find perfectly respectable. There are better books out there, but I wouldn't regret buying this item. Based on my review, you should be able to determine if it's of interest to you. Let the Force guide you.
FOUR: I recommend anything earning this rating. Unless you don't like the genre, subject matter, or past work of the creators, I believe you'll enjoy this item. Isn't it uncanny how I can look right into your soul that way?
FIVE: Anything getting this rating is among the best comicdom has to offer. You should buy/read this, even if the genre/subject matter doesn't appeal to you. It's for your own good. Me, I live for comics and books this good...but not in a pathetic "Comic-Book Guy" sort of way.
Please send material you would like me to review to: