Thursday, April 26, 2018

Tales From The Quarter Bin--Owlhoots?!?

Today I found these two book in the Quarter Bin:

So, what are the odds that I would find two books, right next to each other, that had the hero calling the bad guys "owlhoots" on the cover?

 As it turns out after a little research, it wasn't that unlikely...

Now, it should be noted that I'm sure I missed some. Marvel had an awful lot of damned Western titles, and some of them ran forever. Did you know that Kid Colt Outlaw ran for 229 issues?!?! The Action Comics of Westerns!!

So, yeah, lots of covers to look at, some titles I'm sure that I forgot about, and I was mainly skimming word balloons, so I almost certainly missed some.

It should also be pointed out that the majority of "owlhoots" come from the 1970s reprint covers. Timely/Atlas didn't usually have a ton of word balloons on their covers, and the '60s Marvel titles preferred "coyotes" or "varmints" or "polecats" or just plain "outlaws" as their cover sobriquets.

I'm not sure why that was. The term owlhoot was certainly around long before the 1970s. Was there a recent movie or TV series that made the term particularly popular at the time? Was whoever was editing these mags just especially enamored of the term?

(This is also a good time to mention that man, Marvel had a lot of Western anthology titles at the time. They were pretty much all reprints at the time, but they were obviously still popular enough to justify repackaging into a "giant-size" format to suck up kids' quarters.)

No, I didn't look at any DC western titles. I'll leave that for someone else.

Look, there's a rare example of an owlhoot in a cover caption!!

Anyway, why, exactly, did "owlhoot" come to mean outlaw/bad guy? Why not "falconscreech" or "pigeoncooing"? This website presents a couple of theories:

Outlaws were referred to as “owlhoots.” “Riding the owlhoot trail” referred to a man who had left the straight and narrow to become an outlaw.

One explanation of origin came from a man living in the Indian Territory of eastern Oklahoma around 1870. He claimed the name came about from the Indians in the area using owl hoots to signal danger or someone’s approach.

Another tale goes that outlaws were called “owlhoots” because, when they were getting ready to ambush somebody in the dark, they would imitate the hooting of owls to signal to each other.

Go figure. And don't ask me to explain this one:

Nope, I'm not going to scour comic book covers for the word "crawfish." You're on your own there.

BONUS: What if Peter Parker were raised in the Old West?

Man, if you're an uncle and your name is Ben--CHANGE YOUR NAME NOW!!!

DOUBLE BONUS: Wakanda forever?

T'Challa's great-great-grandfather, no doubt...


SF said...

Dang. I never read much in the way of Western comics, but I've read a ton of Louis L'Amour and watched a fair number of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood movies. I don't recognize "owlhoot" as a term used in Westerns at all! Don't recall ever hearing it used in this sense before today.

Does this mean the next time I get around to reading about the Sacketts again I'm going to see "owlhoot" on every other page?

PS The term of choice for no-goodniks in our family was always "hydrophoby skunk" (sp?). Commonly used by my dad when I, say, laid down a gin just before he could in gin rummy. But I'm pretty sure I did spot it in some old movie or the other.

Smurfswacker said...

Somehow all these owlhootts remind me of the goose-steppin' lager-slurpin' sieg-heilers Nick Fury always ran into.