Day Six: The Outsiders!

The Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club of “The Wild Area” is composed of former leader Iron Mask and minions, including Vudu, Yango, Flek, and Gandy (who looks an awful like Flek in the opening sequence of JO #137), heading the “dropout society” which inhabits the tree city called “Habitat.” They rove on their futuristic three-wheeled motorized hogs over the Zoomway, looking for adventure and whatever comes their way (apparently). Jimmy O., after beating the tar out of Outside boss-man Iron Mask, temporarily becomes revered head man of the mobilized cadre.

Overall, though, The Outsiders are more than just a biker gang: they are leaders and protectors of a huge forest commune of young people, hippies really (true nature’s children?), who have taken over a vast wooden metropolis built and abandoned by The Hairies, whom we will learn more about quite soon.

No doubt, Jack was riffing on the then-wildly popular movie, Easy Rider, and perhaps Roger Corman biker movies in general with The Outsiders. He had recently moved from the East Coast to make his mark in the Golden State and the prevailing the zeitgeist of youth culture certainly was influencing him. Motorcycle riders had been synonymous with freedom and rebellion in American culture since the hit 1951 movie (which made Marlon Brando a breakout star), The Wild One, and California’s Hell’s Angels, most famous (infamous) of the nation’s motorcycle clubs were becoming a significant quasi-criminal force on the West Coast by the early 1970s. Hunter S. Thompson has written his 1966 first-person account of traveling with head hog Sonny Berger’s crew in Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs, which was a popular paperback. And less than a year before JO #133, everybody was aware of the Dec. 6, 1969, notorious event at Altamont Speedway occurred, where club members killed a man at a Rolling Stones concert, famously chronicled a year later in the film Gimme Shelter. Less than six months after Woodstock, the pinnacle of “music, peace and love,” the hippy movement was already starting to turn dark…

[Patrick Ford in a reply below notes that Roz Kirby, the indomitable wife of the King, told John Morrow in a TJKC interview, that The Outsiders are based on motorcross racers that annoyed the heck out of the couple when they lived in their first California home… But the costuming of the biker gang: that’s GOTTA be based on outlaw motorcycle clubs, right?]

It’s interesting to note that his approach to the counter-culture was one of curiosity and not without sympathy. As to be seen in the days to come on this page, especially with the “Hairies,” one suspects this cigar-chomping, “deese ‘n’ doose” former East Side Kid, U.S. Army veteran of the Battle of the Bulge, felt a kinship with young people of the “Generation Gap” era, not necessarily a common empathy for those of his age.

“Yeah, darlin’, gonna make it happen
Take the world in a love embrace
Fire all of your guns at once
And explode into space”

Steppenwolf, “Born to be Wild”

3 thoughts on “Day Six: The Outsiders!

  1. patrick ford

    While it was kids on motocross bikes rather than Hell’s Angels, Kirby is said to have been possibly “inspired” by his own recent experience with motorcycles. At a minimum, motorcycles must have been “in his head.”

    [The following interview excerpt is from The Jack Kirby Collector #10, April 1996]

    Tell me about the house you built in California.

    ROZ KIRBY: We bought the land, and we built this beautiful Spanish house from the plans. We had to do a lot with the lawyers and the builders, and finally got the thing built. And we lived over in Baranca. We lived on one level that looked down into a valley with a stream. There were these beautiful green acres, with sheep grazing there. Just beautiful. And after we were living there for awhile, all of a sudden we hear, “Vroooom! Vrooooooom!” All this noise! And these motorcycles were down there. We lived right on Baranca, and it’s like a funnel, and Jack’s studio is right overlooking it. The noise was so loud, it was terrible, and it went right into Jack’s studio. We’d complain to MGM, who owned the property at that time. They said there wasn’t anything they could do about it. Then we called the newspapers, and they took a picture of Jack pointing down into the valley. They called him Superman because they always said all the super-heroes were Superman. So the headline read, “Even Superman Can’t Get Rid Of Them.” (laughter)

    We said we didn’t mind the kids using their motorcycles down there, but to just put mufflers on them. But they wouldn’t do it, and the police would go after them on their motorcycles, and we’d have double the noise! (laughter) And then finally they had a meeting, and the parents complained that, because of us, the kids were going to turn to drugs, because we were chasing them off their motorcycles. (laughter) So we lived there two years in this beautiful home. And I finally said, “It’s no use. We can’t take it anymore. I’m not gonna have Jack get sick.” And we sold it after living there two years. (Editor’s Note: Roz previously told me these motorcycle riders were the inspiration for the Outsiders gang in Jimmy Olsen.)

    In a previous post, Jon mentioned in passing there is a rival to the Outsiders in the Wild Area. A paramilitary militia is briefly (don’t blink or you’ll miss them) seen on pages 15-16 of Jimmy Olsen #133.

    The impression left is the secret government agency behind the The Project is enabling the Outsiders, and the rival militia group (they are both heavily armed with advanced weapons).

    The presence of two armed outlaw camps makes the Wild Area a dangerous place, and in effect creates a security force since the dangerous circumstance would tend to discourage visitors, without identifying the super-secret project as being an obvious government “Area 51”-type base.

  2. patrick ford

    BTW, Jon, I want to thank you for the proofreading/editing you’re doing here.

    I almost never read anything I post before I send it. It isn’t that I’m to lazy to edit my own posts, but I noticed a long time ago that once I start to proofread anything I’ve written, I notice so many things I’d like to correct, or rephrase, that I end up junking the whole post and moving on.

    Of course, I see my posts after I’ve sent them and cringe at the spots where I stopped writing, went and flipped a pancake, came back and broke a sentence, but for me it’s the only way that works.

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