Sunday, July 26, 2015

1251/9: Origins

A cowpuncher is basically just a cowboy. The word 'cowboy' entered American lexicon in 1725 as a direct translation of the Spanish 'vaquero'. It's suggested that it literally meant "boy who tends cows" but by 1849, it had gained the definition that we know and love today as a cattle handler of the American West. The term 'cowpuncher' was mainly used in and around Texas. Avon Publications started in 1941 publishing paperbacks to compete with Pocket Books. They also published pulp magazines and in 1945 began publishing comic books. One of these comics, debuting in 1947, was Cow Puncher Comics which featured western tales that lasted for seven issues. The only notable character to come out of Cow Puncher was Kit West who would appear in later series published by Avon, Geronimo: Indian Fighter and Wild Bill Hickok. Kit was a hard-living but sensual pioneer who could fight Indians with the best of them, as this panel shows:
The dead Native is called Little Snake. His father (not pictured) is named Spitting Snake.
But I'm not here to talk about Kit West but about Alabam. Alabam was created by comic book legend Joe Kubert. Alabam is the tale of a cow puncher who becomes the sheriff of a town after his uncle is killed. Alabam only appeared in two issues which I find hard to believe with an origin story like this so I can only imagine Joe Kubert got better-paying gigs with DC Comics.

scans courtesy The Digital Comic Museum
It's too bad that Aunt Hilda couldn't become the western genre's version of Aunt May and it's too bad that Alabam seems to have jumped the shark so early in his career. We go from him protecting the city of Broken Creek from people similar to Mike Mantee and honoring his uncle to fighting giant mountain lions. That sounds more like a story best saved for issue 30 of Alabam as readership plummets, not issue 2.

Speaking of origins, here are some of the things Brutus has done to earn the name "The Born Loser." However, I do have some quibbles. First, the lottery number thing is just ironic bordering on coincidence and veering off toward unbelievable. Second, the millionth customer thing is purely coincidental but also strange considering that I don't think grocery stores do a millionth customer promotion anymore because how would you count it? Third, the car thing is just pure stupidity and Brutus should be ashamed of himself.