Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Western reprints from AC Comics

Publisher Bill Black is a fan of westerns and is one of the good folks who have put his money behind his hobby. His AC Comics, which began reprinting Golden Age super-hero stories, added a few western titles to their publication schedule over a decade ago. To many comic fans Black & Co. may be better known for their ‘good girl’ super-hero comic FEM FORCE. Unfortunately, for this reason Black has a bad rep in some circles, which I think is unfortunate, due to the remarkable effort he has demonstrated in allowing modern fans to discover the comics and heroes of the past.

For a short time, probably no more than a year or so, Black had the rights to use the Charlton 'action heroes'. AC under the AmeriComics imprint published several books featuring new adventures of the Blue Beetle, Captain Atom & others. There was even a team title called 'Sentinels of Justice' which had to be quickly revamped once DC comics officially acquired the rights to the Charlton stable.

In the comic book field, where the western was once a mainstay, there are few examples of this genre still to be found. Sadly, many of the so-called ‘westerns’ which some companies put out are generally re-imagined takes on classic western heroes or supernatural tales told with a frontier backdrop. There have been some very good titles, such as Marvel’s SUNSET RIDERS & DC’s THE KENTS (which mixed real life events with the fictional story of Jonathan Kent’s family during the American Civil War era), and some alternative/independent publishers have put out miscellaneous issues here and there.

The books from AC tend to be reprints of western comics previously published by Magazine Enterprises (ME) a now defunct publisher, which put out an amazing group of licensed titles. Black has also acquired the licensed rights to such western heroes as Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and Tom Mix, among others. ME published licensed and original material for several decades which allows AC to put together some fantastic reprints. If you check on eBay or go to conventions it would cost you hundreds of dollars to acquire some of the comics, and in some cases it would be almost impossible to find them in more than fair condition. Black allows fans of this type of material to read or re-read stories which have been unseen since they were originally published a generation ago.

If you click on the link over to the right you’ll find the official AC website which will give you more information on the books and some of the heroes whose stories you can read. While you’re there you can even click to buy some of the AC books which you may not be able to otherwise locate. It has been my experience that many comic shops won’t carry or order these titles unless you pre-order them.

For those interested in non-western comics, you might want to check out the AC home page to see what other comics they publish. They continue to publish FEM FORCE, along with several spin-offs and specials, plus reprints of Golden Age heroes from a half dozen long-gone publishers.

Happy Trails & Happy Holidays!
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