Friday, February 11, 2011

Number 894

The Ray of Horror!

Handsome movie actor Charles Starrett played the Durango Kid in 64 movies. At one time Starrett was amongst the top box office stars, but most of the Durango Kid movies are locked in the Columbia Pictures vaults, not much seen nowadays.

Starrett/Durango was popular enough to have his own comic book series from Magazine Enterprises which ran for 41 issues. Early issues were drawn by Joe Certa and John Belfi, later issues by Fred Guardineer. This story is from The Durango Kid #7, 1950, and seems like a plot from The Wild, Wild West, popular on TV a decade-and-a-half later. Mixing science fiction and westerns can be fun.

The scientist villain (called "the Boss") looks like Lex Luthor's great-grandfather. The story was probably written by ME regular Gardner Fox, and I like Fox, but like a lot of old comic book plots, there are points that cause one to scratch one's head: Why steal a steer when you can just buy one? Why, to draw the hero into the action, of course! There's not a lot of room in 8 pages for nuanced plots, just gotta get straight to the punch-ups and shootouts.


Jeff Overturf said...

I am a huge fan of all things "B" Western (and NO, "B" is NOT a dirty term...:)) I think it's such a shame that in today's age of digital restoration and digital distributership to niche markets that we don't have more of these things available to the public at large.

borky said...

Love that publicity shot of Charles Starrett, (somewhat resembling Richard Chamberlain).

My first thought was, did he have a Limey butler whose catchphrase was, "Durang, sir...?"

Then I thought: Oh. My. God.

Could you imagine him turning up looking like that in the wild west of Deadwood? The baddies wouldn't know whether to run for dear life or kiss him?

After that I thought: how did he keep his whites so white?

Hollywood, eh? A parallel dimension where the laws of physics only apply as suits the plot - or budget.

...brought back memories of watching Hopalong Cassidy episodes on the BBC in the Sixties, which seemed totally preposterous, even then - not like Champion the Wonder Horse or The Littlest Hobo.

Since any day now they're likely to out Superman as gay (The Authority's Apollo doesn't count), I wonder what they'd call a gay remake of The Littlest Hobo?

borky said...

Just read it.

It was good, if a little stereotypical, but a real zestful storytelling effort was made, even with the dialogue.

Ah, if only all those years ago Hopalong Cassidy'd had stories like that, (even if all 'Sidney Greenstreet' - the ancestor of both Lex Luthor AND the Kingpin - had to do was zap an ant or a bird or even one of his bumbling men!).

Pappy said...

Jeff, I occasionally like to sit down to Encore Western channel and watch a B Western, but considering how many were made--and how many I remember from watching on TV as a kid--they don't have a large selection. My guess is like the Starrett/Durango Kid films, they're in storage somewhere, or maybe many have disappeared.

(My favorite local kids' show came on after school in the early '50s: hosted by Cactus Jim on Channel 2 in Salt Lake City. He'd show a B Western, some really old cartoons, and a chapter of Flash Gordon. Who needed anything else to watch when I had that?!)

Pappy said...

Borky, that photo of Starrett was one of those movie star cards that came out of a vending machine. I think they cost 5¢, and were available at amusement parks and boardwalks. It's colorized, which is how he kept his "whites so white." I'm certain he had a dresser, who provided a proper neckerchief when he rode the dusty trail into yet another town where the black-hatted villains ruled by terror, and Durango fought to restore lawn order.

Kirk Jusko said...

I know John Romita spent a few years drawing romantic comics. Later, when he replaced Steve Ditko on Spiderman, that comic became a kind of superhero/romance hybrid. I don't know if Romita's stint on romance comics falls within the "Golden Age" or not, but if it does, any opinions?