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Monday, 27 October 2008

HIGH NOON PART THREE (NOW UPDATED)


Before looking at the final three stories in this massive western collection I'd like to feature some content from the books editor, Steve Holland. I mentioned in an earlier part of this review that it would be nice to have original publishing dates and artist/writer information. Well Steve has posted what information there is on his Bear Alley Blog - click on the side bar featuring Steve's books relevant to High Noon.

I'm been in correspondence with Steve recently and asked him several questions relating to this collection and the western genre in general.

Here follows a mini Steve Holland interview:



Q -Assuming High Noon is a success
do you have any ideas for further
western themed collections?

A -If there's a second volume I'll
open things out a little.
For the first
volume I deliberately chose stories featuring the major characters that
older fans will remember from the days of the original Cowboy Picture
Library. For Volume 2, if it happens, I'd feature more stand-alone
stories and introduce other characters, like Lassiter who featured in
the series Lone Rider Picture Library. It's no coincidence that most of
the Lassiter stories were drawn by another of my favourite artists,
Arturo Del Castillo. But we shall just have to wait to see how High Noon
does.


Q - Do you think the original writers of these stories would have imagined
they would be collected in prestige editions all these years later?

A -I doubt it. Most of the authors on Cowboy Picture Library were
jobbing
writers and editorial staff. They filled the pages of four titles a
month and moved on to the task of filling the next month's worth of
titles. I don't want to make it sound like a sausage factory -- it was a
little like that but I think the authors did their best to tell good
stories and were always looking for something new and exciting for their
readers.


Q- And for fun what's your favourite western movie?

A - Not sure I can pick one movie. I like different movies for different
reasons and different moods. "The Magnificent Seven" is a great family
movie for the holidays when you're stuffed full of dinner;
"Dances With
Wolves" is another one that's great for family occasions. Personal
choices: "High Noon" with Gary Cooper; the original "3:10 to Yuma" with
Glenn Ford; I'm also a big Howard Hawks fan, so "Red River" and "Rio
Bravo" would have to figure; and "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre"; the
spaghetti westerns with Clint Eastwood and Lee van Cleef; Eastwood's
"The Unforgiven"; "The Wild Bunch" directed by Sam Peckinpah; John Wayne
in "Stagecoach". They're the ones that immediately spring to mind.




Also Keith Chapman, AKA western author Chap Okeefe
# also tells me that
he will be featuring the High Noon collection in the next issue of
the brilliant Hoofprints online magazine on the Black Horse Extra
website. Here's some information from
Keith regarding the forthcoming article.

Editor Steve Holland tells us how he
chose picture stories for the new High Noon collection
(Prion Books) from Fleetway's long-gone
Cowboy Picture Library. "I
always preferred the later issues of Cowboy to the early ones;
the
artwork is far slicker in issues that appeared in the late 1950s
and
early 1960s — Cowboy folded in September 1962 — compared to when it
started in 1950, thanks mostly to the arrival of European artists in
the mid-1950s. Jesus Blasco was the most consistently brilliant
artist seen in the black-and-white British weeklies. He worked in a
more photorealist style than many of his contemporaries and I didn’t
want people thinking this was a cartoon collection.


So check out the Black Horse Extra website here. The new content will be posted
mid-November.



And now on with our review of the final three stories.

Kicking off and it's another Buck Jones tale but this
time the sheriff is a supporting character and the story
centres on deputy Buck Armstrong. Again the artwork
is brooding and the action fast and furious.

Davy Crockett returns in Ricaree.

Crockett is on the trail of Josiah Cannon,
an arms trader who has been selling arms to
the indians.


When Crockett catches up with the desperado he is sheltering with the Ricaree indians. Crockett is friendly with the tribe but since Cannon has married a Rocaree squaw he is now a Ricaree himself and the indians will only hand him over
to another Ricaree.

Not fancying the idea of marrying a squaw, Crockett instead elects to take the endurance test to see himself become a Ricaree which will enable him to capture Cannon without provoking an all out war.

Crockett starts out on a series of tasks, each more dangerous than the one before. These involve being thrown into a torrential river with one's hands bound, racing two horses while bound between them and scaling a deadly mountain in order to get an eagle's feather.

It's all very exciting and keeps up the high standard set by the rest of this collection .

Kit Carson rounds off the book with the final tale - The Trail of Treachery.

Kit finds himself pitted against Gilt Halliday and Rod Clanton as h e tries to help a wagon trail through hostile indian territory.

This is a perfect story to end the collection since it contains all of the ingredients so important to a truly classic traditional western. It's all here - buffalo hunts, bush fires, full scale indian attacks and at one point Carson is captured by the indians who blame the people of the wagon train for killing the chief's son.


All in all High Noon is a brilliant collection, all the better for how rare it is that these old western tales are printed. One of the comments on an earlier part of this review said: now we can read the comics our father's used to read.

And isn't that just wonderful!

High Noon is a great collection of 13 tales drawn from the dim and distant past - reprinted larger than their original size they can once again shine. And boy do they illuminate a brilliance in retro storytelling of the mythical wild west we all grew up with.

In conclusion I love this book and the selection of stories cover pretty much all of the genre conventions remembered from the B-movies and pulp novels. When these stories were originally written the second world war was not that far gone, Television was in its infancy, John Wayne, Gary Cooper and Roy Rogers were cinema stars, much of the once wild west was as it had been back in the day and that's incredible. This book is not only great entertainment for anyone wanting a nostalgic view of the western but essential for anyone wanting to know more about the history of the comic book.


I stated that I had problems finding the book instore but it is available at Amazon for a price cheaper than the cover price.

So buy it - you'll be glad you did.

update - Steve has published a piece, reproduced here, on his website which lists the writers and artists of these strip.

This information follows:

Contents

Davy Crockett & the Paddleboat Pirates (CPL 323, Sep 1959) Art: Gerry Embleton.
The Gun Crew (CPL 439, Feb 1962) Art: Alberto Breccia.
Kit Carson and the Man Who Hated Redskins (CPL 353, May 1960) Art: Jesus Blasco.
Kansas Kid and the 'Frisco Racketeers (CPL 396, Mar 1961) Art: Gerry Embleton.
Buck Jones and the Apache Manhunt (CPL 402, May 1961) Art: Alberto Breccia.
Kit Carson and the Cheyenn e War (CPL 389, Feb 1961) Art: Jesus Blasco.
Kansas Kid and the Brand of the Double-D (CPL 332, Nov 1959) Art: Jorge Macabich.
Buck Jones and the Man from Montana (CPL 386, Jan 1961) Art: Jesus Blasc
o.
Davy Crockett and the Duel With Danger (CPL 331, Nov 1959) Art: Sergio Tarquinio.
Kit CarsonIndian Tamer (CPL 349, Apr 1960) Art: Gerry Embleton.
The Hunter (Buck Jones) (CPL 410, Jul 1961) Art: Alberto Breccia.
Davy CrockettRicaree! (CPL 339, Jan 1960) Art: Gerry Embleton.
The Trail of Treachery (Kit Carson) (CPL 401, May 1961) Art: Jesus Blasco.

3 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

Sounds like a thick and satisfying read.

ARCHAVIST said...

It is a great read, Charles. And superb value for money. It's also well bound and with care will last forever.

lisa said...

I'm reading the Rick Radium collection and may try this next.