Billy the Kid Week 2010: Billy the Kid in pop culture

Billy the Kid Week

Billy the Kid Week 2010 starts officially on Monday.  However, I thought I’d do a “soft opening” of the Kid Week today.

After seeing the Young Guns movies, especially the first one in 1988, I went on the hunt for a movie novelization and/or a souvenir magazine for either movie.  Back then, there was no Internet to search, I had to “pound the pavement” at all of my local malls and bookstores to find these items.  And I was never able to find anything.  Surprisingly, I now know, neither Young Guns movie had a novelization nor a movie souvenir book released.  And it crushed me.  I really wanted that novelization.

While I never found a souvenir mag or a novelization, there were plenty of Billy the Kid items I did find.  Some of them right away, some of them years later.  Here are some items I found throughout the years featuring Billy the Kid.

Billy the Kid Adv Mag 21 Billy the Kid Adv Magazine 24 Billy the Kid Adv Mag 10

Billy the Kid Adventure Magazine – This magazine began in 1950 and was published by Toby Press. It lasted 29 issues and finally ended in 1955.  The magazine featured old and new Wild West stories including tales told from the point of view of a killer bear as well as Katie O’Donnell, the first female prospector. The magazine also contained artwork by the great Frank Frazetta, Al Williamson and Mad Magazine’s Harvey Kurtzman.

Charlton Billy the Kid 80 Charlton Billy the Kid 23 Charlton Billy the Kid 124
Charlton’s Billy the Kid – Published sporadically throughout the ’60s and ’70s, this comic book featured artwork by the great Cracked magazine artist John Severin. The book told fictional tales featuring a fictional version of Billy the Kid. The comic was twice put on a year long hiatus in the ’70s and finally canceled in 1983.

Kenner's The Real West figs Kenner Real West playsets(via Plaid Stallions)
Kenner’s The Real West – Kenner originally planned to release these figures as a tie-in to the 1979 film, Butch and Sundance: The Early Days. The film was a prequel to the Redford/Newman classic from 1969 and it starred William Katt as Butch and Tom Berenger as Sundance.  Needless to say, the movie bombed and Kenner opened the line up to all mythical figures of the Old West and tried to re-brand it The Real West.  In the image on the left above, you can see the figures in the line which include Billy the Kid in the lower left corner.  Click the image to see it bigger over on Plaid Stallions.  The top five figures were all from the movie and released with the Butch and Sundance branding.  The bottom three figures (including Billy) were planned to be released as the second series with the new Real West branding, and were produced, but never actually released.  In the image on the right, you can see the Western Cafe playset.  Look familiar?  It was a redressed Star Wars Creature Cantina playset.

Sideshow Billy the Kid 1 Sideshow Billy the Kid 2

Sideshow Six Gun Legends Billy the Kid – Sideshow released this glorious figure in 2000 alongside a Wyatt Earp figure.  This is a fantastic large format doll that is modeled on the famous Billy the Kid tintype.  Great attention to detail.  I love this figure.  Sideshow also made an incredible Doc Holliday figure based on Val Kilmer in the movie Tombstone.  Another just fantastic figure.

McFarlane Billy the Kid
McFarlane Monsters Billy the Kid – Released by McFarlane as part of the third Monsters Series in 2004 subtitled “6 Faces of Madness”.  The set included other historical killers with the middle name “the” like Jack the Ripper, Attila the Hun and Vlad the Impaler. McFarlane’s Monsters series is fantastic and one of my all-time favorites, but I DO NOT like this Billy figure.  It looks like a romance novel’s version of Billy the Kid and nothing like the famous tintype.  It looks more like Billy the Man, not Billy the Kid.  It also makes the Kid look American Indian which is absurd because although Billy did live the majority of his short life in New Mexico, he was born on the East Coast, possibly New York.

Billy the Kid cap pistol
Billy the Kid cap pistol – The famous outlaw got his own cap pistol.  I’m not exactly sure the year on this but it’s wonderfully generic, isn’t it?

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2 Responses to “Billy the Kid Week 2010: Billy the Kid in pop culture”

  1. I used to love the cap pistols as a kid, even though they smelled like sulfur. Never did get much into any specific Western films as a kid, but I’d occasionally catch one with my father who enjoyed seeing John Wayne kick some ass as much as the next man.

    Recently, I’ve gotten into more of the supernatural cowboy mix with comic titles like Kevin Ferrara’s Deadlander (2007) and Eric Powell’s Billy the Kid’s Old Timey Oddities. Makes me wonder why no one has ever made a really good zombie/cowboy film.

  2. I hated those cap pistol things when my little brother was a kid. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen anything Billy the Kid related in books and movies…

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