Views & Reviews From Writer Steve Miller
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Saturday, June 4, 2011

Forgotten Comics: Firehair

Firehair (Source: Showcase #85 - #87, Sept - Dec, 1969; and Son of Tomahawk #131-132, 134, 136, March - November 1971)
Writer and Illustrator: Joe Kubert (Series co-created with Carmine Infantino)

For roughly a decade--from the mid-Sixties to the mid-Seventies--one of the greatest talents to ever work in the comic book field was at the height of his creative powers. During this period, Joe Kubert illustrated "Enemy Ace" and "Sgt. Rock of Easy Company", two of the best war series every published; and he drew some of the very best "Tarzan" comics, producing adaptations of Burroughs' novels that equal and exceed the more well-known efforts by Russ Manning and Burne Hogarth. Kubert also created and illustrated some very excellent, lesser-known series, such as "Firehair", the subject of this Forgotten Comics review.

"Firehair" was a short-lived western series that appeared in three issues of "Showcase" and as a backup in a handful of issues of "Son of Tomahawk". It was set in the early 19th century, and it focused on a teenaged white boy with red hair who had been raised by Native Americans after a chieftan adopted him as an infant. It chronicles his wanderings--and details the racism he experiences from both Indians and Whites, as he is a man with truly no place to belong--and it was a surprisingly well-done and heartfelt series for when it was published.

All of the "Firehair" stories are superior examples of what may be created when someone with great talent treats comic books like an artistic story-telling medium on par with movies and novels.

Not only did Kubert produce stories of such depth that they can stand as equals in this day and age when critics and readers heap praise on even the most feeble attempts at producing comics that are "literature", but the look of the characters and the world they exist in have an authentic look that I don't think any other artist has captured, save Jean Giraud in the celebrated "Blueberry" graphic novels. Even the coloring on "Firehair" is far beyond what was typical in the 1960s--the use of shading and highlights is of a nature that didn't come fully into vogue until computer aided coloring was pioneered at Malibu Graphics in the 1990s.

If DC Comics ever decides to release a "Best of Showcase" or maybe "A Best of Joe Kubert" book in their hardcover "Archives" format--or even as part of the "DC Showcase Presents" black-and-white reprint series--"Firehair" should most definately be included. It's a shame that run-of-the-mill comics like "Uncanny X-Men" is kept before the public in a variety of book formats while true masterpieces like "Firehair" fade from public view and memory.

2 comments:

  1. It sounds like a great story. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yep. It's a shame they're not more easily accessible.

    ReplyDelete