During the 1940s and 1950s, the counter drugstore magazine racks overflowed with different types of comic books besides superhero comics. There were romance books, animal books, horror books, jungle books, space books and war story books. It truly was the Golden Age of comic books. However, it is the Western comic books that literally and figuratively stacked up against the popular superhero publications. The Western comic book should not be a surprising: the medium embodies the mythic paradigm for the American spirit and exceptionalism. This aspect of the Western genre embellished victory culture in its every thought bubble and skillful graphic. The Western comic, like film and television would seemingly disappear by the 1980s, a victim of overexposure.
The Apache Kid
The Apache Kid is a fictional Old West character in the Marvel Comics universe, primarily seen in stories from Marvel’s 1950s precursor, Atlas Comics. The character was named after, but not related to, the real-life Native American man Haskay-bay-nay-ntayl, nicknamed the Apache Kid.
The publication debuted as a cover feature, drawn by John Buscema, of Two-Gun Western #5 (cover dated November 1950) The initial writer and co-creator is unknown. The Apache Kid would be steadily published throughout the 1950s. Although Buscema would draw the occasional issue, the bulk of the book’s run would be penciled and inked by Werner Roth. Apache Kid’s run would end in 1956, however reprints ran until 1975.
Caucasian child Alan Kranda, an orphan raised by Apache chief Red Hawk. As an adult, he took on a civilian identity as cowboy Aloysius Kare, who changed into war paint and buckskins to fight outlaws and "bad" Indians, protecting the innocent. Unlike many other Western comics of the 1950s, Apache Kid generally presented American Indians in the same light as whites, and made distinctions among various tribes. Apache Kid, like Tonto in Lone Ranger, shows the difference between good and bad Indians. Those who fought under the guise of white justice were free, and good; those who remained “savage” were considered villains. It served as a warning to their real-life counterparts.
Western Comics was comic book series published by DC Comics. The series was DC’s longest-running Western title, it published 85 issues from 1948 to 1961. Western Comics was an anthology series, featuring characters such the Wyoming Kind, Pow Wow Smith, Rodeo Rick, Trail Boss and the masked vigilante Greg Saunders. Notable writers include Don Cameron, Gardner Fox, and France Herron, and artist Carmine Infantino, Gil Kane and Leonard Starr.
Wyoming Kid was one of the most famous characters is a cowboy wandering the West looking for his father’s murderer. The good-natured hero appeared in every issue in Western Comics. The Wyoming Kid turned out to be so popular that his adventures were also chronicled in the World’s Finest Comics (1949 to 1953).
The Wyoming Kid and Western Comics promoted a sense of American exceptionalism that would reinforce stereotypes of cowboys, the sheriff, the Indian and the outlaw. Western comics appealed to young generations reinforcing them that the wild west exploits in comics were historical and should be celebrated.