Boys’ Ranch #2 (December 1950) by Jack Kirby
I have to admit that Boys’ Ranch along with Fighting American get short shift here in the Simon and Kirby blog. This is not because I feel that they are inferior work, quite the contrary. Much of what appears in this blog are the result of scanning and restoration work that I have been doing. I want to restore all the Simon and Kirby work. In all honestly it will be a long time, if ever, for such an effort to be completed. Boys’ Ranch and Fighting American have already been reprinted by Marvel, therefore they are low on my list of scanning to be done. I do have a particular love for Simon and Kirby covers and I take particular care in cover restorations. So you can expect that from time to time I will post on Boys’ Ranch and Fighting American covers.
Actually the covers from Boys’ Ranch are special in that all are really great covers. This is pretty unusual for Simon and Kirby productions. Well I guess you can say that all the Stuntman and Boy Explorers covers are all really fine but those were really short lived titles. Fighting American, Foxhole, Bulls Eye, Police Trap and In Love had great covers but the final covers just were not the same quality as the initial ones. The reason for the short comings of the final covers for these titles is that they were done when the Simon and Kirby studio was going through difficult times and would shortly disband. Because it was produced in the middle of the Simon and Kirby collaboration, Boys’ Ranch did not suffer from that problem.
The cover for Boys’ Ranch #2 puts special emphasis on Dandy and Clay Duncan but Angel and Wabash play their part as well. As first glance it might appear that we are looking at one moment in time, sort of like an illustration of a snap-shot. That however cannot be farther from the truth. The text in the balloons indicate that our heroes have been waiting to catch some cattle rustlers. Dandy has announced the arrival of the rustlers and is in the middle of rising up to fire his rifle. Clay has already begun firing. I am not quite sure about Angel. He appears to be rising up like Dandy but on the other hand is that smoke coming out of his right pistol? Wabash sits as if he is still waiting with no sign that he is even aware that their quarry has arrived. Although Clay may be in the midst of firing the first shot their prey has already returned fire with the bullet ricocheting off the rocks at Dandy and Clay’s feet.
Boys’ Ranch was published by Harvey and Joe Simon has said that S&K did not do the coloring for the comics they produced. Well whoever the colorist was he did a particularly nice job here. I especially like the use of graduated tones and highlights on Dandy and Clay Duncan. The red background grades to yellow near the horizon. This gives the impression of an approaching dawn and that our gang has been waiting all night. The colorist has shown in the left foreground that he is quite capable of effectively coloring rock formations. However he has wisely chosen to color the background rocks a neutral grey so that all our heroes stand out. Jack Kirby drew a great cover and the colorist made it even better.