Monday, October 19, 2009

The Head-Hunter of Pirates Peak

In my opinion, Bobby Benson’s B-Bar-B Riders #14 (1952) sports one of THE most quintessential Dick Ayers pre-code comic book covers ever. All the elements are there: sexy damsel in distress strapped to table (bondage), knife wielding maniacal hunchback, hick hero swinging to the rescue, and of course a wall full of gory, decapitated, shrunken heads with their eyes sewn shut--- there’s even a skeleton in shackles! Open the cover and Page One cruelly smacks you with a grisly splash of even more severed horrors, and this time some headless bodies to boot! Whether you’re a fan of westerns or not, I think you’re going to like this one, mostly just cuz it’s loads of corny gruesome fun!

And thanks again to ebay specialist Michael at Top Quality Resellers for hooking me up with this awesome issue, and at such a great deal too!

And don't miss our DRAW ME CONTEST going on now! Get your entries in by this Friday... see last Thursday's post "The Gypsy Curse" for all the details!


Vintage ADS


Mark B said...

There's so much in this one, all the things you mentioned, plus a freaking CASTLE in the desert, the dumbness of leaving a trail of peas, the cliche question "Are you an angel?" and the creepiness of the hunchback saying "A boy and -- a girl!" as if he had to think for a moment what she was.

What is also awesome is that the comic was really a western comic. There was a Lemonade Kid story with a flying saucer in one issue but I don't think anything like this appeared in other issues. If they did, I'd love to see them. Ayers rocked on this one.

Mark B said...

Color me embarrassed. I just remembered that of course Ghost Rider was in some of these, like the cover shows. So I guess they did mix some horror in with the stage coach robberies.

Anonymous said...

Awesome story, but the violence was surprisingly nasty.

Tex fondling the girl in the final panel is another fun detail you didn't mention and the castle and pea trail are great too of course.

Unknown said...

Bobby Benson reminds me of another heroic comics lad with the initials BB: Billy Batson, aka Captain Marvel.

Unknown said...

This was a swell one-day departure from business as usual. How are other issues of B-Bar-B Riders?

Mr. Karswell said...

>I just remembered that of course Ghost Rider was in some of these

If anyone is interested in seeing the Ghost Rider story from this issue let me know, it's pretty good and worth posting too.

>Tex fondling the girl in the final panel is another fun detail you didn't mention

I couldn't mention them all! One of my favorite things in this is tenderfoot Betsy's dialog in the panel on page 3 when we first meet her, "I was exploring... got lost... saw those men, and came this way..."

Haha, Whoa Betsy!

>BB: Billy Batson, aka Captain Marvel.

He reminds me of the brat across the street who won't leave my halloween decorations alone.

>How are other issues of B-Bar-B Riders?

I have no idea, this was my first B-Bar-B Riders purchase. Pappy may know more about this series as he's posted quite a few Ghost Rider stories over the years, although I believe his scans came from GR's own series.

So that's cool, I'm glad everyone (so far) is enjoying this one, it's always a gamble around here to post anything slightly off the usual pre-code beaten path. Keep those doggies rollin', and stay creepy ya'll...

bzak said...


Love Dick Ayers horror work. But it was his pencils on Sgt. Fury with inks by John Severin that got me to seriously collect comics full time.

My favorite story horror story by Dick can be found at this link:

It may not be "Golden Age", but this one cracked up my brother and sister and me for years. Funniest thing we ever read.

Brian James Riedel

Mr. Karswell said...

Ayer's "Swamp Monsters" re-make can also be found in the THOIA Archive, posted last January, right alongside of Myron Fass's original 50's version called The Life of Riley here:

There's another half dozen Dick Ayer's stories in the Archive as well, use the handy search engine for more!

Anonymous said...


Prof. Grewbeard said...

this was great, i love genre-mixing anyway but this was a great example. i love the way Ayers draws terified women(heh, heh...). it's okay with me if you post that Ghost Rider story too!

Mark B said...

>How are other issues of B-Bar-B Riders?

Filled with fun, corny western stories. Based on my small sampling, the early issues have mostly Bob Powell art, and the later issues have mostly Dick Ayers art. So the art is top notch.
As far as Ghost Rider, most of the stories I've read are of the Scooby Doo school. His supernatural origin story could have been just a dream. He uses tricks himself. In other words, almost everything seems to be flesh and blood.

Pappy posted a couple stories from Ghost Rider #7 I would recommend - "Legion of the Living Dead" and a non GR story called "The Bloody Fangs of Fear". Both have supernatural elements.


Thank you Karswell, for losing your head on this one! Great bizarre cross-over! Ayers and co. set the tone right with not one, not two, but 3 headless corpses smacking you in the face on page one!

Bobby is esentially every teen sidekick/hero (as said, Billy Batson, Rick Jones, Jimmy Olsen, Bucky even Robin)and they are annoying by nature. Too bad he didn't get his head shrunk...

On the last page,thank God Betsy left her headlights on so Billy (I mean Bobby) can see what he's doing (I think they're HIGHBEAMS). And that cover is Mmmm-mmm good! They didn't have comics like that when I was a lad!

Dick Ayers was an excellent artist who was able to infuse his characters with loads of personality, and shows us his skill here as well as on his Atlas horror and western stories, and Charlton's 'MAD'-like humor comic, EH!...It's unfortunate that many comic fans nowadays only know of Ayers as (like Joe Sinnott)"that guy who used to ink Jack Kirby!" Thanks to you, Karswell, we can all re-discover these historical artifacts, and maybe learn something, too!! Heads off to you!

Unknown said...

Thanks for the feedback, Mark!

Johan Urban said...

Thank You! Always on the look-out for a good shrunken-heads-story!

Trevor M said...

Imagine 8 and 9 year olds getting a dime from mom to pick this up in the 1950's? That cover is nuts. Talk about a boy's fantasy come to life. I could imagine some little delinquent pretending those heads on the wall were teachers. And then right on the first page the decapitations are off the charts! I count 21 blood dripping decapitated heads, one giant hunchback with a knife and woman strapped to a table, and three gruesome headless body murder scenes. And that's just the first page. ahahha! Thanks for posting this one, Karswell!

Tamfos said...

Ayers was so underrated, not only for his art, but his storytelling and innovation. Check out the way the caption in the 2nd panel on Page Two runs from border to border, leading the "open" Panel One directly into the meat of the narrative. Nice touch.

Weird how the heads are introduced in such a small panel and without comment. It takes the hunchback himself to point them out, as if he's drawing attention to his efforts out of an inferiority complex.

I have to say, though, that I'm perplexed by the last line of the story. "tooth ache?"

Trevor M said...

I can only guess, Tamfos, that the reference to "tooth ache" is connected to the numerous references to anesthesia when the hunchback confronts our boy hero. Of course, it makes as much sense as our boy hero laying out his trail with dried peas -- but this story must have been written by somebody in an insane asylum, the more you consider it and think about it.

Anonymous said...

@tamfos- my guess is he's happy to still have his head attached, so he won't complain about headaches or toothaches.