Golden Oldies

Apparently either sounds were a lot more muted in the 1940′s, or they hadn’t yet invented the exclamation point, or sheriffs just didn’t hit very hard. Whichever it is, something is definitely up with this image:

cowpuncher-1-smackop.jpg

I love everything about this panel, from the awesome dialog (“A cloth-covered sledgehammer comes up from the floor …” — what the hell was his fist doing on the floor?!) to the look on the face of the outlaw, to how the sheriff guts out his apparently broken and/or dislocated shoulder to deliver a punch. And all done without the need for an exclamation point! I mean, come on, I’ve used two so far just in this one post, and yet you can cold-cock a guy into bug-eyed, broken-armed, raccoon-mascara-wearing submission without even getting out of a declarative mode.

Regardless, it makes for a very surreal visual. You’ve got this very savage beating taking place, but the onomontoPOWia makes it all seem very genteel, as if they’ll retire to tea and crumpets after the blood soaks into the sawdust. Just awesome.

The panel is from Avon Comics’ 1947 comic, “Cowpuncher” #1, courtesy of the awesome “Golden Age Comics” site. I’ve been having a blast going through these old issues from the dawn of comic books’ exploding popularity, before the Comics Code Authority intervened to put a bullet through the medium’s head. They’ve got romance comics, war comics, talking animal comics, pirate comics, cowboy comics, you name it and you’ll find some really cool examples of the genre. It’s fascinating to immerse yourself in this era of the medium’s development, and to appreciate just how pointed the visual language has gotten in the intervening sixty years.

I’d write more, but I have to go outside and practice punching things with a period instead of an exclamation point. I just hope I don’t have to dislocate my shoulder to get it done.

About Jeff Hebert

Jeff is a 45 year old city boy who has somehow found himself located in Colorado, fulfilling his lifetime dream of making a living drawing super-heroes all day.

8 Responses to Golden Oldies

  1. …I’ve seen less surreal images in Dali’s nightmares…
    Anyway, does using periods mean you’re pulling a punch?

  2. William A. Peterson

    If he’s pulling his punches, while delivering a sledgehammer blow, what happens when he really does punch a cow? :->

  3. “The panel is from Avon Comics’ 1947 comic, “Cowpuncher” #1 …”

    That’s the worst-drawn cow I’ve ever seen. Since when do cows have red hair and hold knives?

  4. I love that the guy getting hit doesn’t have an exclamation point either. Neither of them seem very enthused to be in this fight.

    Nate, out here in Texas country, knife-wielding Viking cows are a real menace.

  5. Well, then again, the sledge hammer is cloth-covered… maybe that muffles the sound??? That still doesn’t explain why the badly-drawn cow doesn’t have more “oomf” in his “aai”. If someone gets hit in the face with a sledgehammer (cloth-covered or otherwise), he’s gonna put a few exclamation points in his dialogue.

  6. It must’ve been the last take of the day. They’re tired, they’re already mentally at the bar and on their third round, they can’t be bothered.

  7. Nate: Jeffs right. Just this morning I almost got attacked by one. You have to use a cloth covered sledgehammer to take them out…its like their kryptonite.

  8. HA! “Cowpuncher”!