The Black Bull rides into action once again, courtesy of one of the greatest – and sadly, unheralded – art teams of the Golden Age: John Severin and Will Elder!
Both men, of course, are well-known for their contributions to various comic book and magazine publishers but little has been said about their collaborations on Crestwood’s Western title, the appropriately named “Prize Comics Western.”
It’s a shame these stories haven’t been collected. Severin and Elder’s styles work surprisingly well together, with neither truly overshadowing the other.
Well, perhaps Western comics will one day return to prominence and prompt a renaissance of high-quality reprint collections. In the meantime, here’s “One-Man Posse” by Severin and Elder.
The story originally appeared in Prize Comics Western #85 (Crestwood Publications, Jan. – Feb. 1951).
Dick Briefer is primarily remembered today for his exemplary work on the classic horror/surreal humor strip Frankenstein. His 16-year career in comic-books spanned numerous genres however, as Briefer’s skills as a writer and an artist proved just as adept in the genres of science-fiction, high-seas adventure and super-heroes.
Prize Comics, the anthology title that birthed Briefer’s Frankenstein, lost its super-hero features in 1948 due to the genre’s declining popularity after World War II. The legends and mystique of the Wild, Wild West proved far more alluring to readers of the time, so the book was renamed Prize Comics Western and published the exploits of such noted fictional – and at times historical – frontier heroes as “Dusty” Ballew, Wild Bill Hickock and the American Eagle.
Although he continued producing Frankenstein, Briefer also contributed to the Western fad by drawing – and perhaps writing – the inaugural adventure of a faux Zorro known as “The Black Bull.” The story itself is fairly standard, but Briefer’s “bigfoot” approach to the art adds a surreal element to the proceedings that place the feature – and its protagonist – far from the usual one-horse-town shoot-em-ups.
From Prize Comics Western #71 (Prize Comics Group, September-October 1948), here’s “Bullets At Salt Lick”.