The Black Rider Rides Again, And Again

Gunsmoke Western #47
Gunsmode Western #47 (July 1958) “Trouble In Leadville” page 1 pencils by Jack Kirby

Like “The Raiders Strike” in Gunsmoke Western #51 this Black Rider story with an “M” job number is probably inventory left over from before the Atlas Implosion. One reason that I have been reviewing some of Kirby’s work that might have been done before the Implosion is the hope of finding more examples of Kirby inking Kirby. Alas GW #47 is not inked by Jack but instead looks like the same inker as GW #51. I check Atlas Tales and they do not list the inker for GW #47. Because I forgot to do so in my previous post, I also check Atlas Tales for GW #51 and they list Dick Ayers as the inker. A check of GCD gives Ayers as the inker of both stories, but surprisingly says Dick also penciled “Trouble In Leadville”. Sigh, what can I say, the GCD is such a mixer of accurate and, in this case, widely off mark attributions. Anyway I really do not know enough about Ayers to voice an opinion on the inking attribution. Whoever the inker for GW #47, he did a good job and did not overwhelm Jack’s pencils. As with GW #51, I feel that inker’s more detailed style is a poor match for Kirby’s pencils. Jack’s pencils in these Black Rider stories are stylized and the inker’s style make the figures look somewhat freakish. It may seem odd to say the inker did a good job but a poor match for Kirby’s pencils. With Black Rider Rides Again #1 I felt that Kirby’s inks complimented his pencils. Jack’s pencils would suffer from any inker not following that style, which would be pretty much any other inker. That being the case the most one could expect is that at least the line inking be sensitive to Jack’s pencils.

In the very beginning of “Trouble In Leadville” the Black Rider is involved in a shoot out against a number of opponents. He proves too much for them and the ride away. We then find that he has saved Marie (the recurring female character) and her father from Dan Basset’s gang. The gang came asking a lot of questions about Leadville and became angry when the pair refused to answer. Suspicious that the gang was up to no good the Black Rider tries to go after them but the trail goes cold. But he asks Marie to go to the sheriff and warn him about the gang’s presence. Back in town and having resumed his identity as the local doctor, we find out the sheriff has left with a posse. Basset and his gang arrive to find the town is unprotected and make for the bank. But the doctor does a quick change to the Black Rider and saves the day.

I have to admit I am really not a big fan of these Black Rider stories. Of course Kirby’s art is nice but the stories themselves leave a lot to be desired. They seem very formalistic. The stories often seem to start with action where either the Black Rider prevents the bad guys from whatever they are doing but is unable to capture them, or the Black Rider arrives too late to and the bad guys are already gone. The Black Rider resumes his identity as the town doctor. Later when the bad guys show up, he dons his Black Rider outfit and almost effortlessly saves the day. The repetitive nature of the plots indicates to me that they were not by Kirby who, if anything, had an overly active imagination.

4 thoughts on “The Black Rider Rides Again, And Again

  1. Harry Post author


    Thanks for the encourage, it probably means more then you realize, particularly now. I knew when I started my current serial post on Kirby’s Astere Inking Style that I would be venturing into area perhaps to esoteric for many. Still I was surprised to see how much my readership suddenly drop.


  2. Stan Taylor

    Hi Harry,

    Isn’t the inking on the Black Rider stories credited to Bill Everett? That’s what I have in my notes, but I can’t recall where I got it from. Doc V. perhaps.


  3. nick caputo


    I love reading about the “esoteric” areas and hope you continue.

    Stan, I’m not sure who attributed the inking to Everett. I’ll have to take a closer look at the complete story, which I have at home, but going by the splash page, my first inclination is it may be inked by George Klein.

    Nick Caputo

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