Friday, February 13, 2009

Junkyard Dog Scrounging Down at the Memory Dump

Now and then, a stray cosmic ray hits a neuron, some long-forgotten engram blossoms, and I remember something I haven't consciously thought about in a while.

Given that such a memory might be wiped away with the next beer or glass of wine, or maybe even be replaced with the fog of age, I sometimes jot it down, just in case I might want to use it.

One of the purposes of this blog, other than to entertain those who chance upon, it is to preserve such small bits. Might be a book there some day.

A little background before revealing today's memory. As a boy I was an omnivorous reader. Everything with print in English was mine -- books, newspapers, encyclopedias, cereal boxes, and, of course, comics. Thousands of the latter over the years. Across the spectrum, from D.C. to Dell to E.C. to Classics Illustrated (15¢, those, not a dime) to you name it. (Marvel was a johnny-come-lately, didn't show up until I was an adolescent, but then I read that one, too.)

To give you an idea of how selective these flashes are, all I can tell you about the comic in which I read it was that the series was about a frontiersman, ala Dan'l Boone or Davy Crockett; they didn't merit their own title, but were B-stories in the back of  some other work. The Hero wore buckskins and a coonskin cap, had a long rifle, and a young sidekick. This was the norm in those days, the sidekick -- Lone Ranger had Tonto, Cisco had Pancho, Roy had Pat Brady, Yancy fronted his backup band, Pahoo. And in those pre-pedophile-are-they-gay? days, some of the macho heroes had teenage boy sidekicks: Batman and Robin, Green Arrow and Speedy, Range Rider and Dick West. And my favorite, Red Ryder and Li'l Beaver ...

So, here was the Deerslayer and his young sidekick, Squirrelshooter, whoever they were. And in the story, they met up with an English fop, one of those hanky-waving, pistol-toters, back when the Pennsylvania flintlock rifle was the only thing real men carried. I think the Fop was a pistol salesman, but I could be confusing that with an episode of Davy Crockett. I seem to remember vaguely an exchange as the pistoleer was trying to show the worth of his product. Some mention of the range, and the rejoinder that they were for inside a hundred yards, unlike the rifle. Why, the frontiersman said, inside a hundred yards, we just use our fists ...

I don't recall the plot. But there is a scene in which Our Hero and his Young Ward and the Fop are attacked.

In one panel, the Fop addresses the attacker nearest him thus:

"Desist, you blackguard, lest I be compelled to injure you!"

At my young age, whatever it was, certainly pre-teen, I thought that was about the coolest line I had every seen in a comic book. Not, "Stop, or I'll shoot!" The man used language I had never seen in such a medium. "Desist?"

I think that line was one of the things that sparked my intent to write. How ... clever that writer was. That he had created a character who would use such language. And then had him say it.

Oops, the rats are organizing. Best get out of the memory dump for now ...


Tiel Aisha Ansari said...

That reminds of the sequence from the Wolverine MacAlistaire comic, where Wolverine runs into an English fop who's out to civilize America...

If you haven't read that one, you should-- it might be hard to find now. By the same guy who did Epicurus the Sage-- William Messner-Loebs, one of the best.

Anonymous said...

Here's that book, fwiw.