THE ORIGINAL GHOST RIDER VOL. 1 (Canton Street Press, First Printing, 2015; Hardcover)
Collects Ghost Rider #1-5 and the Ghost Rider stories from Tim Holt #11-14 (cover dates December, 1949- 1951)
Writers: Raymond Krank and Gardner Fox
Artists: Dick Ayers, Frank Frazetta (covers), C.W. Winter (The Saga Of Sage Brush Sam gag strip in #1), and Howard Larson (one page back-up strip in #1)
I have dreamed of seeing this run collected for years, and it's finally a reality. While this has a macabre appearing hero and has occasional Horror-esque overtones this is by and large not a Horror comic at all. It instead plays like an amped up Western with a superhero in a cool costume taking center stage.
Gardner Fox writes all of the stories except for the character's first appearance in Tim Holt #11 and the two back-up strips in the first issue of the series proper. Dick Ayers does all of the interior art and some of the covers, arguably doing the best work of his career. He seriously cooks here!
This being sixty five years ago, there are some things that may offend the more politically correct modern day reader, such as Ghost Rider's partner (while in his civilian identity as Rex Fury) Sing-Song, an Asian stereotype, from the broken English, buck teeth, right on down to his vocation (doing laundry). People have to understand that things were different back when these comic books were originally published, and that while the portrayal of the character isn't the best he is treated respectfully and not as the comic relief that many stereotype sidekicks were during this era of comic books. Native Americans are also depicted in all of their “savage” glory, although it should be noted that it is nearly always the white man who is the villain in these stories.
While there is no real continuity from one story to the next and they are at times formulaic and predictable they are also all highly enjoyable. There are many times where I prefer escapist comic books like this to any “cerebral” comic books published today. If anything they seem more believable to me because they are not trying so hard to be smart. I hope that this book sells well enough to get future volumes collecting the full run of this title as well as his appearances as a back up strip in other 1950s comics. Fingers crossed!
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4.75 out of 5.
The OCD zone- The stories from the Tim Holt issues are collected in the back even though they came out first. They are presented here as extras since the core series had a different vibe. I read them first because I am all about completism and chronological publishing order.
Linework and Color restoration: High resolution scans of original comic books, cleaned up with Photoshop. The pros of this method of restoration is that you see the comic books as they were originally published. The cons of this method are that you see the comic books as they were originally published, warts and all. Off register colors, line bleed, murky printing due to the primitive four color printing presses of the day.
Collected edition fans seem to be split into three camps: One who want to see everything mentioned above, warts and all scans. The second want to see this material properly remastered, with the material recolored using the original color palette while fixing errors like off register printing. The third camp is the undecided one, those who can appreciate both methods.
Paper stock: Incredibly thick coated stock with a slight sheen. This paper stock is thicker than anything found in any Archive-style book by Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, etc.
Binding: Smyth sewn binding with a rounded casing. This book lays completely flat from the first page to the last.
Hardback cover notes: Laminated casewrap. This is some thick lamination and is resistant to scuffs. If you handle your books like the Samsonite gorilla then you might have some problems with it. The other 99.9% of readers will enjoy a lifetime of durable reading with this book.