Monday, October 01, 2012

Comics are Magick: Runestone Cowboy

Strangely enough, this installment is kind of a sequel to "Daddy and the Pie," only it was published 5 years before by a different company (in The Witching Hour #12) and was written by a different writer. It was illustrated by Alex Toth though, and concerned the fate of a young man who once had an all-powerful magical talisman when he was a boy.

This story is as loud and violent as "Daddy" was quiet and pastoral. But it too is a meditation on morality and the choices we make in our lives. It's also one of the earliest comic book stories I remember reading- my uncle picked it up at Marvin's Pharmacy after church and left it in a box in my grandmother's house thereafter. I re-read a number of times over the years, along with any number of classic Silver Age comics.

The Witching Hour #12 was important for another reason, however- it was where I first encountered the work of Jack Kirby, in the form of this DC house ad. Having read the bloodless funny animal comics my mother bought for me, this was like a revelation from the gods. It all seemed so cosmic, so exotic, so cool.

It would be ages before I actually read those particular comics, and not a single one lived up to what I imagined they'd be like (or the other Kirby books I read in the interim) but it certainly hit me exactly at the right time and set me on a path that I'd follow forever after.

But "Double Edge" had an impact too. It was one of those stories that tuned into the pervasive occult ambiance of the early 70s that so many of my favorite popcult artifacts do, at the same time it obviously pays tribute to Doctor Strange. And in a strange way it anticipates Harry Potter.

I couldn't say it better myself, so I let Alan do so...

Alan Moore didn't introduce magic and occultism to comics- he merely re-introduced them. I cut my teeth on that stuff back in the 70s, all in color for two dimes, or a quarter. Not to mention UFOs, conspiracy theory, the paranormal, psychedelia and all the rest, all down at my local newsstand. What I wouldn't give for a time machine.

Click images to enlarge.