Archive for the Western Category

AWESOME-tober-fest 2017: The Original Ghost Rider (1949)

Posted in comic books, Frankenstein, Genres, Halloween, holiday, monsters, pop culture, Western with tags , , , , , , on October 26, 2017 by Paxton

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Everyone knows Ghost Rider. The flaming skull. The Hellcycle. Penance Stare. Hell, just last week I posted a Cavalcade Comics cover featuring the motorcycle riding demon fighting the Headless Horseman.  But did you know that Ghost Rider was originally a supernatural western hero?

Back in 1949, Magazine Enterprises was publishing a western comic called Tim Holt: Cowboy Star of the Movies.  In issue #11, a backup story was introduced featuring the ghostly first appearance of the Ghost Rider.

The story was written by Ray Krank and drawn by Dick Ayers. It told the origin of the Ghost Rider.  Rex Fury, aka the Calico Kid, is ambushed by renegade Indians.  He fights the attacking braves while saying classy things like this:

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It *was* 1949.  Anyway, the Indians’ numbers eventually overcome the Calico Kid and they throw him and his Chinese manservant, Sing-Song (I’m not even joking.  1949, guys.), into the “Devil’s Sink”, a bottomless whirlpool from which no one that has fallen in has ever returned.  Except Rex Fury.  After somehow washing up inside a hidden cave system, Rex decides to come back as the spectral Ghost Rider to fight crime and get the men who sent him to his watery grave.

Ghost Rider would appear in Tim Holt a few more times before, in 1950, getting his own title.

For this new title the character was again drawn by co-creator Dick Ayers. The first issue retold the character’s origin from Tim Holt #11 but with new art and an expanded story. This time they expanded on his time in the Devil’s Sink.  Instead of washing up in a hidden cave system, he enters something like the afterlife, or Purgatory.  While there he learns skills from famous Western heroes like Wild Bill Hickock, Calamity Jane, Kit Carson, etc so he can return to the living and fight evil.  They even give him the suit.

The title was a different type of Western and the Ghost Rider was a different type of Western hero.  The book was essentially a horror title.  The stories pitted our hero against a motley assortment of ghosts, monsters, cursed treasure, witches, and demons.

I’ve read a few issues of this title and there are some fun issues. Ghost Rider even manages to meet another of my AWESOME-tober-fest theme monsters, Frankenstein.  In issue #10.

The character was a big hit for Magazine Enterprises for nearly a decade until the company went bankrupt. In 1967, after the trademark on the character had expired, Marvel Comics released their own almost exact copy of the character in his own title written by Roy Thomas and again drawn by Dick Ayers.

Unfortunately Marvel stripped out all of the horror and supernatural elements and made Ghost Rider a more traditional western gunfighting hero.  Several years later, after Marvel introduced their motorcycle riding demon version of Ghost Rider, they renamed this Western character Phantom Rider.  Phantom Rider would team up with the new Ghost Rider several times for Marvel.

For Halloween a few years ago I did a Cavalcade Comics cover featuring a meet up of the Original Ghost Rider and the New Ghost Rider.



Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2016: Asher Cobb from The Sixth Gun

Posted in comic books, Genres, Halloween, holiday, horror, monsters, mummy, pop culture, Western with tags , , , , , , , , on October 19, 2016 by Paxton

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Today I’m going to talk about a specific mummy character from one of my favorite comic series, The Sixth Gun, by Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt.
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The comic is a horror western about six cursed pistols and the battle between good and evil to possess the guns and prevent them from destroying and remaking the world. There’s so much stuff running through this comic like gunfighters, undead Civil War generals, dark swamp gods, skinwalkers, black magic, ghosts and a 9 foot tall mummy. It really is worth a read and I can’t recommend it enough. The series as a whole ended this year with issue #50 and I recently did a re-read of the entire series from Book 1 up to the final issue and I loved every bit of it.  The comic really gets deep into its own mythology and I really liked how it ended.

Anyway, the part of this comic I want to discuss today is the aforementioned 9 foot tall mummy. His name is Asher Cobb.

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Asher first shows up in the series in the collected edition Book 3: Bound.  Specifically in the final page of issue #12.

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He shows up out of nowhere and steals the coffin containing the undead corpse of the evil General Hume.  He fights spectacularly for the next issue and a half.  Then, in issue #14, we finally get his origin as told to us by an old carnie.

Asher Cobb was born deformed. He was oversized, which made him an outcast.  To add to that, he also received visions.  Visions of the future.  He was befriended only by a nice girl named Ruth who he fell in love with.  One day he received a terrible vision of Ruth’s death.  So to prevent the death of the girl he loved, he sought out some old witches and made a devil’s bargain to cheat death.  But to do that, he had to endure death.

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Unfortunately Asher was not able to prevent Ruth’s death so he is constantly wandering, driven crazy by his unnaturally long life and the knowledge that he couldn’t prevent Ruth’s death.  He is at first used by the forces of evil as a tool, but Asher would show up much later helping out the good guys and hoping that whomever acquired the guns and remade the world, would also bring back his beloved Ruth.

Asher is a pretty great character, both in the story but also visually.  He is super strong, gets visions of the future and just looks awesome.  He’s just one of the reasons I love this comic.


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Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

The debut of new Western podcast Hellbent for Letterbox

Posted in Genres, movies, podcast, pop culture, Western with tags , , , , , , on February 11, 2016 by Paxton

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My good friend (and Nerd Lunch Fourth Chair Army officer) Mr Michael May asked me to co-host a podcast with him.  And I must be crazy because I said, “Sure, why not?”  And let me tell you why I said that.  First, Michael is awesome.  We love him on Nerd Lunch, in fact, we just recently finished up several episodes in a row with him (Janu-May-ary).  Second, Michael and I have a similar love for the Western genre.  So, Michael asked if I wanted to start an all-Westerns podcast.  There was no way I could say “no” to that.

So, this podcast is going to watch and review a different Western every month.  We will probably also watch and review certain Western TV shows as well as discuss a few Western books.  But the focus will be mostly movies.  I’m really looking forward to it because I have a few holes in my Western viewing that need to be filled.

Which, for this first episode, Michael and I set the table for the podcast.  We talk about our introduction to the Western genre.  We talk about some of our favorite Western movies, stars and directors.  We talk about what we hope to accomplish with this show and what types of movies and stars we want to “catch up” on.  And, at the very end, Michael reveals what our first movie review will be in our second episode.

So come check out the beginning of Hell Bent for Letterbox.  I don’t know if you can get it on iTunes just yet. but if not, it will be there soon.  Maybe even Stitcher at some point.

Regardless, you can listen to the show right here.

If you’re super excited about subscribing in iTunes and it’s not showing up, here’s the RSS feed you can drop into iTunes to subscribe manually.

Cult Film Club does a Young Guns Double Feature!

Posted in Billy the Kid, Genres, movies, podcast, pop culture, Western with tags , , , , , on December 16, 2014 by Paxton

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This month Cult Film Club does our very first double feature episode!  In this double feature we are discussing BOTH Young Guns movies!

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And the discussion went on so long we had to split it into two episodes. So, Episode 22a of the Cult Film Club podcast focuses on the first Young Guns movie. We talk about our history with the movie, our favorite scenes, the voluminous cast and the lack of movie score.

Then, Episode 22b is all about the sequel, Young Guns II.  We discuss our history with that movie, our favorite scenes, the voluminous cast and cameos, the awesome Silvestri score as well as a little bit of Billy the Kid’s history.

It’s a super fun discussion and we hope you have as much fun listening to it as we did recording it.  And if you did enjoy our Young Guns double feature go check out Shawn and my list of our ten favorite movie gunfighters.

Download the latest CFC episode from iTunes or Stitcher.

Reading Forrest Carter’s Josey Wales novels

Posted in books, Genres, movies, Western with tags , , , , , on May 31, 2013 by Paxton

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I have been a fan of Clint Eastwood’s 1976 western The Outlaw Josey Wales since I first saw it with my dad back in the 80s.  I actually saw and know Clint Eastwood more for Josey Wales than I do “The Man with No Name” because I saw it first and it led me to Leone’s “Dollars Trilogy”.  So, being a fan of it for so long I was surprised a few years ago when I discovered the movie was actually based on a 1973 book by Forrest Carter called Josey Wales: The Rebel Outlaw.  The story would subsequently be retitled Gone to Texas.

Being such a huge fan of Eastwood’s take on the character I felt I needed to read the source material. So I got the above book from Paperbackswap.com and set about reading about one of my favorite gunslingers.

I have to say, I’m really surprised how close to the story the movie was. Carter writes a very good, gritty, action-y western. The feel on the page is the same as watching the movie. It helped that I had Eastwood’s visage burned into my brain whenever I hear the name Josey Wales. The mannerisms, the speech. It’s obvious Eastwood was very respectful of the original stories and strayed little from not only the character but the overall storyline. The only thing I think the book does better is the character of Laura Lee is a much better character in the book. But, honestly, I’m not a big fan of Sondra Locke, so that may have been a factor.

But the book, I can honestly recommend it for both fans of Eastwood’s movies and fans of good, western action in general.  The book is a fast paced read, clocking in at around 200 pages and offers a lot of gunfights and good dialogue.  It actually got me excited to read Old West fiction again, something I haven’t really done since high school.

In 1980, Carter followed up Gone to Texas with a sequel called The Vengeance Trail of Josey Wales.  This sequel was also included in my book copy.  Needless to say, I was pretty eager to read this sequel and see what could have also been a sequel to Eastwood’s Josey Wales (Eastwood did consider doing it but it never developed).

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The story picks up a short time after the original book.  A terrible tragedy befalls Josey Wales’ bride and his newborn child.  Honestly, the tragedy is told in detail and it’s pretty horrific to read, especially as a father.  And the rest of the book is also incredibly violent, even more so than the first novel which is not as much as you’d expect.  However, I was pulled in again by Carter’s writing style and the way he tells a story.  It’s another excellent Josey Wales novel and I liked it as much if not MORE than the original.

It’s sad that Carter never wrote anymore Wales novels.  I know Eastwood had the book and I think he was considering, but by 1980 I think he wanted to do other movies and leave the Western behind.  When he did his final Western, Unforgiven, I was surprised that the main character wasn’t Josey Wales, however, there may have been rights issues.

So if you enjoy good action, you can’t go wrong with these Josey Wales books.  They are excellent examples of fast paced Old West fiction that I personally enjoy reading.  Do yourself a favor and give it a chance.