#26 Vampiric Cowboys
#26 Vampiric Cowboys
Only Printing / Spring 1990 / 52 pages / Rip Off Press
Just Deserts • Greasewad City Tales • Henry Miller I’m Not • El Bandito Muerto • We Want Your Blood Buckaroo • Lost on the Plains • Bats • Ballad of Stoney Joe • Real Vampiric Cowboys • • Immortal Decay • Vampire Cowboys • How the West Was Won • Cowgirl of the Night • My Vampiric Cowboy Shirt • Little Fight in Mexico • Day of the Dead poster
#26 Vampiric Cowboys
about this issue
Not that vampires weren't always a popular fictional subject (Bram Stoker's 1891 book Dracula has never been out of print), but it seems that vampires have done nothing but grow in popularity throughout the 20th century and beyond. And that growth has been on an L curve, leading to vampires (and their undead cousins, zombies) being wildly popular in almost every entertainment media today. But that wasn't the case in 1990, when Rip Off Comix #26 featured the "Vampiric Cowboys" theme. So what inspired this?
Perhaps it was Anne Rice's popular series of novels, beginning with 1976's An Interview With a Vampire and going strong throughout the '80s. Could it have been the great 1987 cult movie The Lost Boys, which matched its spookiness with cheekiness in a classic comic-book send-up? Was it the small wave of vampires in comic books published in the late '80s, like Rick Shanklin's Blood of the Innocent or Blood of Dracula? Perhaps it was Marvel's unconventional four-issue vampire series Blood (1987-88) or Eternity Comics release of Dracula and Scarlet in Gaslight in 1989.
Somehow I doubt it was any of these in particular, but perhaps all of them in concert. In any case, "Vampiric Cowboys" is the theme, and the contributors in this issue have all taken their assignment pretty seriously, beginning with Carol Lay's "Just Deserts." Lay, a prolific and successful cartoonist since graduating from UCLA in 1975, gives us an 8-ball-headed maniac who drives a school bus of kidnapped children off a high cliff in the desert. The 8-ball dude bounces out of the bus but his 8-ball head pops off his body and lands atop a cactus. Then a swarm of giant-insect-like cowboys descend upon the cactus grove and suck the juice out of every cactus, which eventually leads 8-ball head to reunite with his lower body.
Lay contributes this bizarre tale in the midst of producing her outstanding Good Girls solo series at Fantagraphics, which ran for six fairly successful issues, with the last being published at Rip Off Press. If you like the quirky, amoral tone of "Just Desserts," be sure to check out the rest of her stuff.
Steve Lafler's alter ego, Dog Boy the cartoonist, takes on the vampire cowboy thing in "Henry Miller I'm Not!" Dog Boy begins to draw his story in earnest, but he can't quite wrap his head around the theme and ventures off into a love triangle story, gets lost in the plotting, gets frustrated with trying to write like he's trying to write, loses his temper and tears up all of his work. In between all that is a compelling story about a love triangle that a lot of people might be able to relate to. Oh, Dog Boy, if you could just keep your talents on target!
Mack White contributes a solid two-pager about a dead cowboy gambler who comes back to life to exact revenge...on everybody! Wayne Honath follows that with his own two-pager featuring Howie and in his brother Pete in their bunkbeds after Howie had a nightmare about vampire cowboys. At first Pete tries to console Howie, but soon gets a kick out of scaring him even more, and then ends up scaring himself. Classic Howie comics from Honath!
The next three stories include one each by Richard Sala and Mary Fleener that are quite sassy and end with adroit non sequiturs. Light-hearted fluff, yet entertaining. But it's The Pizz who takes on the theme with no holds barred in his story "Vampiric Cowboys!" It stars three vampire cowboys in Las Vegas, one of whom recalls the glory days of 19th-century settlers in the Old West, when victims were easy to come by and bloody gore was commonplace. The Pizz spares no taboo in this gruesome feast of loudmouthed desecration evocative of S. Clay Wilson at his most vile, yet it's somehow offered with whimsical panache.
Bruce Hilvitz, the editor of this issue, follows with the four-page "Immortal Decay," a black-scratchboard tale of a lone cowboy who didn't pay enough heed to a stranger joining his campfire. The dark, creepy mood is jarringly altered when J.R. Williams follows with "Vampire Cowboys," a goofy comic about two inept vampire cowpokes with more ambition than sense. They end up getting their blood-suck on all right, but not with the tasty treats they'd set out for.
R.L. Crabb shows us how vampire cowboys were probably not necessary in the Old West, since the regular cowboys seemed to inflict more than enough bloodshed in "How the West Was Won." John Seabury follows with a story of how a vampire cowgirl left her mark on a small Western town and one particular crooner. The mag concludes with a couple of enigmatic comics by G. Parsons and Carel Moiseiwitsch, the latter having crafted a mercurial career in illustration and comics. Good stuff by both of them with some powerful imagery, but I think I need an interpreter.
Led by the tour de force "Vampiric Cowboys!" by The Pizz, Rip Off Comix #26 is perhaps the strongest issue the series has produced since returning from its hiatus a dozen issues ago.
It is currently unknown how many copies of this comic book were printed. It has not been reprinted. Like other magazine-format comics with numbered pages, the index of comic creators below follows the page numbers defined in the magazine instead of counting the covers as additional numbered pages.
Bruce Hilvitz editor, 30-33, back cover
Natasha Shawver front cover
John Howard inside front cover
Carol Lay 2-5
Dave Cherry 6
Steve Lafler 7-11
Mack White 12-13
Wayne Honath (aka Wayno) 14-15
William Neff 16-18
Richard Sala 19-21
Mary Fleener 22-24
The Pizz 25-29
J.R. Williams 34-37
R.L. Crabb 38-40
John Seabury 41-44
G. Parsons 45-48
Carel Moiseiwitsch inside back cover