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by Billy Ingram

Firehair comicsIf I found myself stranded on that proverbial desert island and all I could take with me were a few of the comic books I grew up with, I think I'd grab Joe Kubert's Firehair.

Firehair debuted in Showcase #85 and ran for three issues of that title, putting them on sale during the summer months of 1969. Showcase was a proving ground for concepts - The Flash, The Atom, Green Lantern and other DC stalwarts got their start in Showcase. If a feature did well a place on the schedule was warranted. A good percentage of Showcase concepts resulted in short run series like Inferior 5 and Metamorpho.

Both written and drawn by Joe Kubert, Firehair was a unique graphic adventure with a true Southwestern feeling - the use of a grease pencil to create dramatic effects, decorative borders resembling primitive drawings, even the color and shading was more subtle than you would find in a typical DC or Marvel comic.

Joe Jubert's FirehairThis was the story of a white child who survives an Indian massacre of settlers and is taken to be raised by the Blackfoot Chief as his own son. Racial tensions and cultural divisiveness served as the catalyst in these stories as Firehair discovers he is seen as neither white nor red, truly accepted by no one except the man who 'adopted' him.

The stories were rooted in American Indian folklore, a subject virtually unexplored in comics in any serious manner. Kubert's wife Muriel was of Native American descent and that no doubt served as inspiration.

The storylines were direct and confrontational - in one Firehair must prove his mettle by running the gauntlet to save a hateful white man; in another he questions ancient Indian superstitions and further alienates himself.

Horse operas weren't particularly popular in 1969 and this twist on the traditional western was a hard sell. After the Showcase tryouts Firehair turned up a year later as a back feature in Son of Tomahawk comics, reduced to 6 page stories that turned up three times in that comic's 10 issue run (with a two-pager to start out with in issue number 131).

Son of Tomahawk, the story of the half breed son of a revolutionary war soldier and an Indian gal, was an attempt to resuscitate a long-running title that had no relevance in the late-1960s. With Joe Kubert as the new editor, Son of Tomahawk took place in the days of the wild west and sported some of the most dramatic covers of the era.

Firehair in Son of Tomahawk comics

Joe Jubert's FirehairThis bold exploration of the tensions that develop when cultures clash was a fantastic run of comics but failed to light up the newsstands and disappeared in 1972, as did Joe Kubert's remarkable creation Firehair.

Although the run was short, Kubert's Firehair stories are some of the finest ever created for the comics. It's a shame they've never been reprinted in the United States, it's one of several Joe Kubert masterpieces standing alongside his Tarzan adaptations and Enemy Ace.

Dig the crazy cover for the last issue of Son of Tomahawk below. Note the comic gets a sharp new logo just in time for cancellation.

native americans and comics


Native Americans and Comics

Firehair comic bookFirehair

Showcase #85 - #87, Sept - Dec, 1969

Son of Tomahawk #131-132, 134, 136 March 1971 - June 1972

Published by DC Comics, images copyright 2009 by DC Comics.

SEE ALSO: Joe Kubert 1960s DC Super Hero Covers



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