Tuesday, July 13, 2010
All Star Western
I began collecting DC comics All Star Western in 1955, when superhero titles were on the wane, and was a regular reader until its demise in 1961. The western comics were not signed in the fifties but I did recognize the work of one of the star artists, many years later revealed to be Gil Kane, from an earlier fascination with Rex the Wonder Dog, a tree-climbing horse-riding, car-driving canine hero based on Rin Tin Tin.
All Star Western began with no. 58 (April-May 1951), making use of the title of the discontinued All Star Comics, home to the long-running series Justice Society of America. The great artists and writers on All Star Western, as well as the Julius Schwartz science-fiction titles, would also be the crew responsible for DC’s later return to superheroes with The Flash (Carmine Infantino) and Green Lantern (Gil Kane).
All Stars’ most prolific contributing writer was Robert Kanigher along with John Broome and Gardner Fox. The stories were as gimmicky as the corresponding science-fiction titles. The first major feature was the Trigger Twins, a buckskin duo, one brother a milquetoast Clark Kent type, the other equivalent to a gun-toting Superman. The stories were drawn by Gil Kane and Carmine Infantino. Among the artists who contributed for the next ten years were Carmine Infantino, Gil Kane, Alex Toth, Ross Andru, Irwin Hasen, Howard Sherman, Leonard Starr, and Dan Barry.
All Star Western was canceled with no. 119 (June-July 1961) in the middle of a two part story featuring Johnny Thunder and a beautiful masked gunwoman named Madame .44. I had been a little upset by the fact that Johnny Thunder had changed his marvelous fringed jacket for a red shirt --much more upsetting was the demise of All Star Western, one of the best drawn comic book westerns of the fifties.