Thursday, May 17, 2012

Tim Holt

Tim Holt was a popular western actor who, like many others from the era of the late 40's-early 50's, got his own comic-book series, this one at Magazine Enterprises.  The first 3 issues were part of ME's rotating anthology series, A-1, but unlike many such features, after that it was spun off into its own entirely separate series.

Each of the first 5 issues had 3 Tim Holt stories, plus various fillers, such as photos promoting Holt's movies, articles about western lore, and text stories.
In the 6th issue, a new back-up series appeared that replaced one of the other stories, starring The Calico Kid.  He was a mysterious figure who posed as a chuck wagon cook, while on the side sneaking off to investigate various criminal activities.  After 5 episodes, the character was revealed to be an alias for U.S. Marshal Rex Fury, who, following a failed murder attempt against him (in the tradition of The Lone Ranger!) took on a new secret identity as the masked hero, Ghost Rider. Apart from 2 of the Calico Kid episodes, Ghost Rider's entire run was illustrated by a single artist--  Dick Ayers!

The success of Ghost Rider saw him spun off into his own quarterly title, in addition to making regular appearances in the anthology BEST OF THE WEST, while his regular monthly home remained the TIM HOLT book.  Meanwhile, Tim Holt was given his own comic-book masked hero identity, as RED MASK.

For the entire run, every single episode of TIM HOLT or RED MASK was illustrated by artist Frank Bolle. I was familiar with some of his work at Warren in the 60's, and to a lesser extent, some of the inking work he did for Marvel in the early 70's.  As with many artists with their own distinct style, I find it distressing to see someone more or less wasting their time and talent as an inker, but I guess it paid the bills. Bolle also worked on several newspaper strips, which presumably paid much better. I've recently discovered he also worked for BOYS' LIFE magazine for nearly 20 years, illustrating Bible Stories, several comics adaptations of science-fiction novels, and various other features.

As of July 2013, I've restored just about EVERY cover in this series, so I'm going to post them all here in sequence.  Most of the early ones are photo covers, but starting with issue #17, they switch to comics art.  The majority are by artist Frank Bolle; in addition, there's a few by Frank Frazetta thrown in for good measure, and right at the end a short set by Dick Ayers.  All have been lovingly, painstakingly restored as best I could. These really made me a fan.  Enjoy!

Click the links to read the full contents of each issue at the Comic Book Plus site!

A-1 #14 / TIM HOLT 1  /  art by FRANK BOLLE   (1948)
Here's the splash page of the very 1st Tim Holt episode!
(For the rest of the story, visit the Comic Book Plus site.)

A-1 #17  /  TIM HOLT 2   (September-October 1948)
A-1 # 19  /  TIM HOLT 3   (November-December 1948)
TIM HOLT 4   (January-February 1949)
TIM HOLT 5   (March-April 1949)
TIM HOLT 6   (May 1949)
Behind this unassuming cover was the debut of The Calico Kid--
who before long, would become known as The Ghost Rider !
Here's the splash page of the 1st Calico Kid episode...
the (not-yet-revealed) debut of Rex Fury!
This was artist Ernie Bache's only episode on the series.
(For the rest of the story, visit the Comic Book Plus site.)

Story by Ray Krank  /  Art by ERNIE BACHE

TIM HOLT 7   (July 1949)
Here's the splash page of the 2nd Calico Kid episode.
This was artist DICK AYERS' debut on what would become
his most-famous work!
(For the rest of the story, visit the Comic Book Plus site.)

Story by Ray Krank  /  Art by DICK AYERS
TIM HOLT 8   (August 1949)
Here's the splash page of the 3rd Calico Kid episode.
This was artist Fred Guardineer's only work on the series.
He was more associated with another western hero... The Durango Kid!
Dick Ayers would return for the 4th episode, and stay all the way to the end.
(For the rest of the story, visit the Comic Book Plus site.)

Story by Ray Krank  /  Art by FRED GUARDINEER 
TIM HOLT 9   (September 1949)
TIM HOLT 10   (October 1949)

(Continued in Part 2)

Artwork (C) Magazine Enterprises

Raw scans from Heritage Auctions site
Raw scans of interior art from "Freddyfly" / "Josemas"
     at the Comic Book Plus site

Restorations by Henry R. Kujawa

For more:
Read the complete contents of TIM HOLT comics at Comic Book Plus!
Visit the Frank Bolle Studio site
See Frank Bolle's work on the BOYS' LIFE BIBLE Stories series!
Read "Pappy"s TIM HOLT article at the Insomnia Notebook blog
Read the RED MASK article at Don Markstein's Toonopedia site
Read the TIM HOLT biography at the IMDB site

Read the GHOST RIDER article at Don Markstein's Toonopedia site
Read the GHOST RIDER article at the International Hero site
Read the Dick Ayers interview at the Twomorrows site
Read the Dick Ayers interview at the Adelaide Comics And Books site

Read the Ernie Bache article at the Lambiek site
Read the Fred Guardineer article at the Wikipedia site

Buy BEST OF THE WEST reprints from the AC Comics website!


  1. Especially nice to see a cover featuring the Black Phantom (#25). Helen made several more appearances, as well as earning her own one-shot (also with a cover by Bolles).

  2. I'm curious about the logo in the corner. Is ME (Magazine Enterprises) another imprint of what would become Marvel Comics, or was it a competitor? I don't recall hearing of it before. And what years were these covers from? The 1950s?