Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Golden Age idol--The Presto Kid!!

Time once again for Golden Age Idol to stick its toe into the Western genre, and explain to you the coolest concept just laying around unused in the public domain:

No, not boring old Red Mask. We're talking about the newcomer who took over as the cover star for the last 4 issues of his mag: The Presto Kid!!

Yes, a magician cowboy.

No, not a Doctor Strange-type magician...a Harry Houdini-type magician!!

Just read:

A cowboy hero who refuses to even carry guns, and uses stage magic to befuddle and capture bad guys!!!

Like I said, coolest concept ever.

His story? Well, young Jeff Grant's family was wiped out in a rogue Indian raid:

See, just like Batman!!

After raising himself in the wild for awhile, he falls ill, but is found my traveling magician/patent medicine seller Doc Crowell:

Jeff travels the west, and learns the secrets of magic!

Unfortunately, a bad man has been pursuing Doc Crowell:

Doc dies, giving Jeff a double dose of tragedy in his life...but Jeff finds an excuse to hang around Red Gulch:

Eventually he owns the shoppe...and he finds the killer!!

GREAT costume!!

Unfortunately, he gets ambushed...


Now THAT is an origin story, folks.

And of course, he decides to stay on in Red Gulch, and even gets a love interest:

Thank you, overly-expositional background cowboy!!

Hey, her hair is "fiery"?? But she's blonde!! Someone call the colorist!!

Look, I'm not going to lie--the 4 stories starring The Presto Kid aren't all that great. For every time that he manages to use stagecraft and misdirection to bedazzle his foes...

...there are just as many times they seemed to loose the mission a bit. Like what was up with those springy-boxing gloves things we saw above? How's that magic? Or this bit:

Wait...what happened there?

The same for these (otherwise great) covers by Dick Ayers showing less Penn & Teller and more Doctor Fate:

More and more the stories began to focus on hypnosis and other silliness. (The first two were written by Gardner Fox! Dick Ayers drew the interior stories...)

And maybe that's a weakness of the medium...perhaps the static printed page isn't the best way to portray slight of hand and misdirection. Or maybe they just needed an editor to focus them a little better.

Certainly the premise screams out for a TV show--I simply can't believe that no one made this into an early 1970s network series! Roy Thinnes is The Presto Kid!!

Regardless, the concept seems to me to be a brilliant concept if handled properly, and a great IP to lend to other media. But since these 4 issues were published (from September 1955-September 1957...now there's a Jim Lee-like pace!), no one has done boo with the character.

So somebody out there--get your act together, and give us the series that is a Western crossed with Bill Bixby's The Magician. Because NOW!!


Britt Reid said...

Frank Bolle drew the Red Mask stories in the title...as he had always done.
Dick Ayers did all the Presto Kid stories, which was only logical since The Kid replaced the original Ghost Rider strip (which Ayers drew) in Red Mask after the Comics Code went into effect.

snell said...

Mea culpa...I misread what I was looking at on GCD...must have been the cold medication. Corrected now.