Thursday, November 17, 2005

Jonah Hex

I gave up reading comic books about the time I started college, the early Sixties. No special reason, I guess, other than that they'd begun to strike me as excessively juvenile. I even wrote an article about my feelings for Dick and Pat Lupoff's deservedly legendary fanzine, Xero. I called it "The Incredulous Eye." What I wished for in the article is what Stan Lee did with Spider Man soon after. Gave Twenty-somethings a comic book that dealt with wit and realism about their own lives. We couldn't soar through the air, true, but we did share many of Peter's emotional problems.

I didn't go back to comics until the Seventies and the character that brought me back was Jonah Hex. These stories were horrorific, occasionally almost supernatural, westerns that brought to the page what Italian westerns brought to the screen. Jonah was as strange and frightening as any ghoulish cowpoke the Italians ever produced.

Now DC has done us the favor of putting more than 500 pages of Jonah in a nifty trade paperback for only $16.95. I like all the stories in it but especially those written by Michael Fleisher who brought eerie humor and almost merry slaughter to the Hex myth. The stories date from 1970-1974.

My comic collection, as such, consists of about twenty hardcover collections and maybe forty single issues, including Ms. Tree, a run of Warren black and whites and a small run of Disney Carl Barks issues I've kept now for more than forty years. I'm about to get the Joe Kubert Tarzan hardcover for my twenty-third birthday.

Fond as I am of certain old Batmans, Supermans, Spidermans, none of them will ever hold the sheer power over me I feel for the Fleisher Hex's and several Will Eisner tales.

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