Scott’s Classic Comics Corner: Bill Black – Swiping Westward
Cover swipes are almost as old as the industry itself (check out Atomic Comics #1, Roly Poly Comics #15). Not too long ago, I found myself browsing through some Charlton westerns from the early 80s (if not me, then who?) and a couple of cover images caught my eye.
Now, let me get this out of the way. I admire Bill Black; editor/publisher at AC Comics. His love for obscure Golden Age comics has helped keep the flame alive (see this recent post at my blog: Seduction of the Indifferent).
When I first saw the cover to Gunfighters #71, I was all like “Heeey, wait a minute – I know that image”. I flipped through my short box of Lone Rangers with painted covers and lo and behold, I see Lone Ranger #88. Now turning a painted cover into a line drawn cover may fool some people, but not me – all those LR covers are etched in my brain. While adding the sniper in the background may have been an attempt to make it more original – it actually makes the whole scene more confusing. Is the Ranger completely surrounded? If so, shouldn’t he try to find better cover? The cool mountains in the background have been erased, but the town looks essentially the same. Not terribly subtle.
The Lone Ranger swipe got me thinking: are there other Charlton covers by Bill Black taken from older westerns? I was familiar with the cover from Gunfighters #73 because Black would recycle it years later for AC’s Latigo Kid #1 (see image at my blog). I wasn’t too fussed up about that as Black was simply reworking something he’d done earlier. But I just knew I’d seen this pose before. Eventually, it occured to me that it was the cover to Outlaw Kid #12 by the late great Joe Maneely. Sure, the background is all different and a whip has replaced the rifle but this central figure and the horse is a pure swipe. I guess if you’re going to swipe a cover, steal from the best.
After that I took a peek at a bunch of other Bill Black covers from this period, and many struck me as very familiar but I haven’t been able to connect the dots. I swear I’ve seen the three images above elsewhere, but my sleep deprived mind just can’t track them down. So, I am enlisting you – the fine readers of Comics Should Be Good, to help me determine whether or not these come from older books. I’ve found plenty of covers with many horses charging, but not this specific pose, but it’s that cover with the gunman turning to fire that’s driving me nuts. Please, help me before I split the spines on my Gerber Journals.