For the last couple of weeks I have had all my free time consumed with moving. Mind you, this isn't some big move, just a few miles from one neighborhood to another. However, it has been a do-it-yourself job and it has taken up my weekends and evenings considerably.
The one good thing about moving is that you get the chance to go through things you haven't gone through in some time, occasionally even years. Such was the case for me. While trying to find places for the many things I wanted to keep as mementos, or things associated with family history, I came across my old comic book collection. I hadn't bought a comic book since I was in about the sixth grade or younger (which means these things were old!). I was actually excited about finding these old things because I had a number of comic books that were true collectors issues.
Considering the fact that the comic books had been stored in cardboard boxes in the attic or garage, suffering the abuses of the damaging Southern summer heat, for 25 to 30 years, they were in surprisingly good shape. I used some old shelves that we had put in a spare closet to reorganize the comic books into some fashion so I could make sense of what I had and to make them available to my kids. I figured that they had brought me so much pleasure when I was a kid, that my kids might enjoy them too.
I was a Marvel Comics nut, and loved reading the old "Sgt. Fury" comics, as well as "The Defenders," "The Avengers," "Ghost Rider," "The Incredible Hulk," "The X-men," "The Black Panther," and many other Marvel superhero characters. My favorite was always "Spiderman," and I had lots of those. While sorting all the different comics (I couldn't believe how many I actually had), I stumbled upon one in particular that brought back a rush of memories and actually shocked me.
The particular comic was "The Gunhawks." It was a comic book series staged in the Old West. The series was about two young men, one white and one black, making their way around the west after the War for Southern Independence. What was special was how they came to be together drifting around the Old West. All was explained in the first issue, and I had it!
The two men had grown up together on a Southern plantation, the white man the son of the plantation owner, and the black man one of the slaves. The story went that the two were raised together like brothers, playing together, and even being educated together. All was wonderful on the plantation until the war came along. The white man went off and joined the Confederate army, and the black man stayed home to protect the plantation. When the Yankee army came and attacked the plantation, the black man defended his home along with the other slaves and the white family that owned the plantation. The Yankees overran the plantation, sacking, looting and burning. They even abducted the black man's love, another slave on the plantation. The black man survived and joined the Confederate army, "killing every blue-belly" he could for destroying his world and stealing his woman.
When the war was over, he returned to what was left of the plantation. There he found the white man, his life-long friend, and they filled each other in on their war experiences. As all was lost with the plantation, the white man decided to help his black friend search for his lost love. This was the basis of their friendship and what caused them to roam the west having adventures while searching for this black woman.
The pictures in the comic book are interesting because they drew the black man in a Confederate uniform killing union soldiers, and waiving a Confederate Battle Flag. It was early-mid 1970s when this series came out. I seriously doubt that anyone would dare produce such a comic series today with our current PC environment. I'm willing to bet that Stan Lee, who runs Marvel Comics, has probably destroyed all the evidence he can get his hands on of this comic series. I don't remember any political leanings of Lee's back when I was a kid, but today he is a far-left liberal who has even produced homosexual superheroes. Maybe Marvel should change their name to "PC Comics."
This comic book shows that there was a time when people were not so hostile toward Southern views or the ideas of the Confederacy. There was a time when our society was more tolerant. Not anymore. No, the powers that be wouldn't stand for this comic series to be produced today with this foundation for the story line. Who would accept reading about blacks defending their plantation homes or joining the Confederate army (even though it actually happened)? No, they don't write 'em like that anymore.
10 July 2001