Friday, June 13, 2008

Showcase #76

Showcase #76 (On Sale: June 13, 1968) is a classic issue featuring the debut of DC's most conflicted western hero, Bat Lash. It sports a nice cover by Nick Cardy and puts forth the question asked in dozens of DC house ads (see below) in the previous months: "Will he Save the West -- or Ruin it?"

As Sergio Aragones told Mark Evanier at the 1998 San Diego Comic-Con:

I was, by that time, living in New York and I was called by Joe Orlando and Carmine Infantino. We went to a restaurant next to DC Comics and they talked about new projects and stuff. They said they wanted to create a different western and they had the name, "Bat Lash." I said, "Don't say anymore. I'll bring you something."

So I went home and thought of a more European western. In those times, all the westerns were very, very aggressive with the cliché of the American Cowboy with very beautiful clothes and able to shoot guns out of other people's hands.

I have adored the western I brought in ideas and sketches and they liked what I did. They took it to Nick and said, "Go ahead!" It's very hard because I write the way I talk...pretty bad. [laughter] People don't understand so what I do to save time (and it's much easier for me because I'm more visual) I draw my scripts and put in very basic dialogue. I would put in notes to the artist saying, "Please don't use this as reference!" [laughter]

Instead of writing about a saucer, for instance, it was just as easy for me to draw a saucer. So I would do the scripts on 8-1/2" x 11" paper, divided into panels, and I would draw the story very crudely, but with no intention for the artist to follow the drawings. When I saw the first work that Nick did, I was so emotional.
(Pheasant in Aspic) is written by Sergio Aragones and drawn by Nick Cardy. Bat Lash is forced to leave town when the boyfriend of a woman that he has been romancing tries to kill him. On his trip to the next town of Welcome, Bat Lash catches a pheasant which he intends to have for dinner. When he reaches Welcome, he notices that most of the honest people are leaving town. Criminals have taken over the town making it unsafe for good people.

Bat Lash brings his pheasant to the local restaurant to have it cooked. Diane, the woman running the place, wants to leave town, but Bat Lash refuses to let her leave until he has dinner. He then goes to the general store to buy additional ingredients.

Bat is confronted by crooks who try to force him out of town. The cowboy proves stubborn and hard to kill. Despite several attacks and trouble from the locals, Bat Lash finally gets Diane to finish cooking his dinner. When he offers her the first bite, she refuses to eat since it has been poisoned. Diane admits that she is the head of the criminal gang, so Bat Lash escorts her to the nearest jail before leaving town. Shamefully never reprinted.

Edited by Joe Orlando.

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