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May 2005
 
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Curiosities

Space Western Comics (1952-1953)

THE 1950s were the heyday of science-fiction comic books, which adhered strictly to formulae perfected in the more juvenile-oriented science-fiction pulp magazines (often by the same publishers); notable exceptions were E.C.'s Weird Science and Weird Fantasy, with their loving adaptations of Ray Bradbury's stories, and Capitol Stories' genre-bending Space Western Comics.

Six issues of SWC, numbered 40 through 45 for some reason, appeared in 1952 and '53. The book's star was Spurs Jackson, a lantern-jawed Arizona rancher complete to ten-gallon hat, six-guns, faithful Indian companion—and, parked out behind the cattle pen, your standard 1950s-style (streamlined, sweptwing) rocketship. Spurs's hired hands were called the Space Vigilantes, and theirs was a hard life, certainly harder than any mere earthbound cowpoke's: punch cattle all day, then, three, four times per issue, pile into the rocketship and go head off the Sun Masters at the asteroid belt, or slap leather against the outlaws of Mars, the Moon-borers, the cactus men of Venus: ornery varmints hankering to come in and conquer all the good grazing land.

The definitive Spurs Jackson adventure embroiled him and the Space Vigilantes with latter-day Aztecs. It seems that when the conquistadors invaded Mexico, the Aztecs, considering themselves technologically outclassed by the Spaniards with their armor plate and brass-bound cannon, hastily constructed rocketships and fled into outer space.

Delirious and deliriously funny stuff.

—Steven Utley

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