Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Saturday, October 17, 2015


For three seasons, from 1954 to 1957, Annie Oakley, a fictionalized version of the real-life sharpshooter, helped keep the town of Diablo safe.  The show was the first national western television show with a female as the title character.  The star, Gail Davis, was a cute, pig-tailed blonde who became a role model for girls and a fantasy for boys.  (I was not immune to her charms although I much preferred Gloria Winters, "Penny" on Sky King.)  The show was produced by Gene Autry's Flying "A" Productions and Autry called Davis "the perfect western actress."  I'm sure that Davis being Autry's long-time mistress had nothing to do with his assessment.

What to do with a popular western show?  Turn it into a comic book, of course.  Annie Oakley and Tagg ran until issue #18 in 1959.  For those unfamilar with the show, Tagg was Annie's little brother, played by popular child actor Jimmy Hawkins for 80 of the 81 episodes.  (For some reason, the role was filled by Billy Gray for one episode.)  The series ended when Hawkins reached puberty and became to big for the role.  And lest one think that Annie was raising her little brother by herself, well,,,pshaw!...Annie's uncle was Diablo's sheriff, a man who was never seen or heard throughout the entire series.  Who was seen was his deputy, Lofty Craig (where do they get these names?), who provided the somewhat platonic love interest because we don't want the kids to get the wrong idead, do we?

As usual, the comic book followed the template of the series.

In "The Rainbow Trail," bank robber and murderer Slick Paul has been seen near Diablo.  Annie's never-seen uncle heads up a posse to track him down.  Unfortunately, Unk's horse slipped on a wet rock and threw him down a cliff, so he's brought back to town as the possee continues its hunt.  Annie leaes Tagg alone while she rushes to the doctor's to see her her uncle.  Meanwhile Slick Paul has eluded the posse and has snuck back to town to get a fresh horse.  Tagg sees him riding off and decides to follow him.  Of course Tagg gets captured and rain erases his trail.  Can Annie find him in time and capture Slick Paul?  Do you even have to ask?

In Annie's second adventure, "The Signal," Bick Shaw is an honest ranchers whose two brothers turned bad and became wanted outlaws.  In a surprising (to me, anyway) twist, Annie's uncle makes an appearance in this story.  And Annie -- who never misses -- fires a shot at a chicken hawk../and misses!  Or did she?

The issue is rounded out with a six-page western story ("A Real Mild Hombre"), a one-page text story ('Two Gun Secret"), and a one-page filler ('Indian Designs and What They Mean").  There's also two pin-up pages of Gail Davis as Annie.  (I was going to say "as the titular character" but even I am not that crass.)


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