Sunday, November 4, 2012

Rawhide Kidding!


I'll admit that I was intrigued at how this notorious 2003 treatment of the Rawhide Kid, a character I really like might stand up to scrutiny. Not very well as it turns out.

I'm very late to this dance simply because I'm very cheap and I didn't want to spend a lot of money to find out I really hated this rendition of a classic. I'm now glad I waited because I can't say much for the approach. I found the storyline collected in hardback for very small money and bought it knowing that if nothing else the typically rock-solid artwork of the late John Severin would guarantee at least a minimum of entertainment value. That much was true. Severin did indeed do an art job worthy of his reputation. Unfortunately for the story, it was his reputation as a satirist for Cracked magazine.

That's the rub here. The way Ron Zimmerman approaches this story, it's almost as if he's writing a snarky television spoof, or perhaps an extended Cracked movie satire. The characters are too broad to allow any real emotional attachment, there are scuds of internal pop culture references which serve only to drag the reader out of the emotional experience. Dandy for a bit of offbeat fluff in Cracked or Mad or Sick, but not for a story of this length and seeming complexity.

For the few folks who might not know, the premise of this revised Rawhide Kid story is that an inexperienced local sheriff is not particularly effective at ridding his town of dangerous thugs, but gets little support from the town folk or his own son for that matter. Enter the Rawhide Kid, a gay cowboy and gunfighter who seems smitten with the sheriff and agrees to help him with his problem. The main villain assembles an array of  cowboy movie stereotypes to help rid him of this sheriff and his helper and the story then becomes about how that unfolds, while the whole town becomes increasingly uncomfortable with the peculiar habits of their resident gunfighter.

At no time does anyone state the obvious, that Rawhide is a gay man, but the ferocious stereotypes inflicted on the character and the reader make it a running gag that no one can detect or admit the obvious. The story is not especially satisfying because frankly it can't take itself serious long enough to make the reader care about any of the outcomes.

This story is a curiosity at this point. I'm not aware that this rendition of the Rawhide Kid has become in anyway a standard, and that's a good thing. Not that it's an issue that Rawhide might be gay, but that he is never treated with any real respect. Rawhide deserves better than that.





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10 comments:

  1. I have to confess that I have a problem with comics that rewrite an established character's backstory to accomodate the whims of the current writer. Somebody was recently suggesting that Superman should be gay or bisexual so that the homosexual community could feel more 'accepted'. Spare us from political correctness - PLEASE!. In my world, the Rawhide Kid is the way his original creators intended him to be.

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    1. The Superman notion is pretty absurd. Too much is there to contradict the basic premise. It's a lame attempt to make a comment about society.

      But on a character like Rawhide, who has largely been ignored for years and years, and for whom there is surprisingly little personal history, I don't have a huge problem with it as long as it's handled with craft and care. The craft was evident in Severin's work, but the care was missing in Zimmerman's script.

      I don't think this change was done for the sake of "political correctness" but more in a way the reverse, an attempt to sensationalize the notion of being gay and smacking that notoriety on an existing character. I can almost hear the sniggering giggles when they thought up this notion of a gay comic book cowboy who wears leather.

      It's got more a whiff of Mel Brooks to me which is miles away from being PC.

      Pass the beans please.

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  2. I Agree with what you say by and large, but I was applying my comment about political correctness mainly to the proposed Superman scenario. I still think the original creators of the Rawhide Kid might take umbrage over their character undergoing a switcheroo in the sexuality stakes 'though, had they known.

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    1. Oh I'd agree with that. There's no way anyone to my mind can go back and say, hey this is the way it was all the time. Rawhide Kid like most of his amigos of the day was a typically asexual hero of the old west, more interested in gun play than horse play.

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  3. Some of the covers really surprised me. You could perhaps make a case that this series was meant to be a comment on male sexuality and objectification and the iconography of the outsider in the Western...but it looks like a puerile joke at the expense of the product of a less cynical era.

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    1. I see the point, but I don't want to give too much credit to what seems at its core a pretty "purile joke" as you so aptly put it.

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  4. Why call it the Rawhide Kid if they're gonna change it around like that? Don't these companies realize they ain't making any friends with us old timers by completely altering characters and then slapping on the old name?

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    1. I can see why from a marketing standpoint they'd want to use Rawhide. Few folks will buy "Queer-With-No-Name", or on reflection maybe they would.

      As for us old timers, we're less a part of their plans than we sometimes imagine. We ain't the future of this business, but then as it turns out we don't much want to be.

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  5. Rip:

    Part of the reason Marvel enabled this twaddle is in the present era of ownership, the company is chasing media attention and headlines. I read this drivel when it came out, and absolutely hated it. Having read reprints of the Kid's original series as a youth, I felt Zimmerman was doing a total creative injustice. Then again, considering he was also writing for Howard Stern at the time, this shouldn't have been a surprise.

    Still, Zimmerman was given another assignment at Marvel that he totally botched because he couldn't meet deadlines, and the last I knew he was dating Cher. Given how badly WWE is written these days, I'd not be surprised if he landed a gig there......

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  6. So many re's, so little time :P

    First, re: Superman - it isn't as far-fetched as you think, considering he (for the longest time) didn't settle down with Lois & had excuse after excuse for staying single & even had Perry White asking why he's always with "that Olson kid" ("Don't you have anyone your own age to hang out with, Kent? People are starting to talk!", lol), etc. nevermind the classic "sharing a stateroom" scenario on an, *ahem*..."cruise ship" ;) in which the Superman & his main 'shipper' tha Bats himself "discovered" each other's identity :D I mean, it was a different era, but still...*come on* :P sharing a stateroom on a cruise ship is how they "discover each other's identity"? lmao :P imo, it was a just a cover-up & an excuse for them to get a room together & "officially" tell each other about themselves...& about their secret identities too ;) plus there's also the completely fabulous & *infamous* space-alien-worm-thing storyline in which it's heavily implied via innuendo, allegory & other literary devices that I can't think of at the moment that Bats & Supes "connected" with each other via one-or-both's depression or something like a "fist in a glove" :P complete with alien-space-worm-thing mating to become another metamorphosis & such...like I said, not that far-fetched, tbh :) that said, once they officially matched him with Lois in the 80's/90's, I took that as strong & good writing & was disheartened that they ended up ditching that & matching him with Wonder Woman lately, in honesty :I

    2nd, re: 'Queer-With-No-Name' - people would *definitely* buy that on the store-shelves ;) :D

    3rd, re: "more interested in gun play than horse play" - ...aren't they the same thing? ;) :P lol

    4th, re: MAX satire - way back when this title was first announced/unveiled, etc. I was intrigued & wondered how/what it would be handled...but knew within an instant that it was gonna b nothing but a farce (if that) as soon as I heard Mr. Severin's name :) no disrespect meant, intended or implied in any way to him or his work here or otherwise, but I simply knew that it was his parody/satire work that they were calling for here & nothing more, plain & simple :)

    & finally, re: 'Rawhide Kid' - seriously, since the very beginning I was like "Why'd they 'out' the Rawhide Kid when it's so much obviously *supposed* to be the Two-Gun Kid?" :P :D hahaha ;)

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