Having finished the colossal SPACE CONQUERORS! project at my blog, today I was finally able to set up a page devoted to TIM HOLT / RED MASK from Magazine Enterprises in the early 1950's.
Most of the covers are by Frank Bolle, with a few by Frank Frazetta thrown in for good measure.

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RED MASK #48  /  Mar'55

A 705 pixels wide image from Heritage Auctions.  Pretty small, pretty miserable.  But, you do what you can.  I picked this over a somewhat larger image at the Comic Book Plus site, because while smaller, this one looked MUCH better to start with.  I then cleaned up the logo area, and the top and right edges, plus a few spots of "drop-out' here and there.  Not bad... but if I could find a MUCH bigger one to start with, I could probably do even better.

RED MASK #49  /  Apr'55

A 711 pixels wide image from Heritage Auctions.  I had to "fill in" the top edge (comparitively easy) and both left and right edges (trickier around the bottom), plus I airbrushed the entire white background and red and yellow in the logo area.  Also, the entire right edge was much darker (discolored) and required some tricky copy-and-paste and airbrushing.  Compared to some, this was almost a "quickie".

RED MASK #50  /  Aug'55

A 969 pixels wide image from Comic Book Plus.  I had to "fill in" all the way down the entire left edge (to avoid cutting off the left side of the company logo).  I airbrushed the entire sky background and logo area, and cleaned up the bottom edge as well.  Overall, a few hours at most.

This turned out to be Frank Bolle's FINAL cover for this series.  I've seen a couple more covers he may have done on turn up on some foreign reprints, but for the remaining issues in the US, Dick Ayers' Presto Kid was cover-featured.  Gee, it's kinda sad when a character gets sidelined in HIS OWN BOOK.

RED MASK #51  /  Oct'55

Thanks to the B***S*** of the Comics Code, one of the most successful western characters of the 50's was cancelled.  In place of THE GHOST RIDER, came THE PRESTO KID.  Instead of stories that bordered on supernatural horror (but were mostly of the "Ghost Chasers" variety) was a stage magician who pretended to have real supernatural powers.  Go figure.  This only lasted 4 issues before Magazine Enterprises gave up the ghost... so to speak.

Let's keep this simple... the scan, a 968 pixels image from Comic Book Plus, was a HORRIFIC MESS.  Not anymore!

DICK AYERS rides again...!



RED MASK #52  /  February-March'56

Another horrific mess!  The 963 pixels wide image from Comic Book Plus required airbrushing virtually the entire upper logo area, plus the entire white background.  In addition, I adjusted the color for all the figures on a separate layer, and very carefully airbrushed in new skin tones for The Presto Kid's face.  I also did some addiitonal repair, but to tell the truth, I could spend several more hours on this one... I just DON'T feel like it! Sometimes you just gotta know when to stop.



Maybe I'll do more later... or maybe a better version (much larger) will turn up eventually.

RED MASK #53  /  May'56

This one wasn't so bad.  A 959 pixels image from Comic Book Plus.  I airbrushed the entire logo area and white background, the yellow text balloon, and the red, whte & skin tones on the Presto Kid and baddie.  I also adjusted the dark greens on a separate layer.  The trickiest part was cleaning up the photographic face in the logo area.  This one "only" took a couple hours!



RED MASK #54  /  September'57

Another mess... a 960 pixels image from Comic Book Plus, as usual, I airbrished the entire logo area & background, as well as bits of the bottom ground area.  I copied the horse onto a separate layer because I didn't want the pale blue to BLANK out due to use of "levels".  A few hours.



I wonder what was going on that this FINAL issue of TIM HOLT / RED MASK came out more than a YEAR after the previous one?

Here's a huge improvement / expansion...

TIM HOLT #1-10 !!!

Just posted at "Western Comix Blogspot"...


There was a short-lived character, "The Phantom Rider", in STAR COMICS v.1 #16 and v.2 #1-2 from Centaur (1938-39).

Then there was "Bill Colt The Ghost Rider" in MIRACLE COMICS #3-4 (1940-41) from Hillman.

U.S. Marshal Rex Fury appeared in TIM HOLT / RED MASK #6-50; GHOST RIDER #1-14; BEST OF THE WEST #1-12; BOBBY BENSON'S B-BAR-B RIDERS #13-15; and BLACK PHANTOM #1, all from Magazine Enterprises (1949-55).

Reprints have been going on almost as long as the character existed; Bill Black's Paragon Publications and AC Comics have been reprinting his stories, most under the name "Haunted Horseman", since 1972!!!

"Carter Slade" was clearly one more "Roy Thomas-ism", the name a tribute to Hawkman (Carter Hall). Sadly, Marvel's "Ghost Rider" (the book initiated, no doubt, by Martin Goodman) was designed as a "western version of Spider-Man", rather than "The Lone Ranger plus supernatural elements". EVEN Dick Ayers was disappointed with the new version, and HE wrote the stories (dialogued by Thomas & Gary Friedrich). Carter appeared in GHOST RIDER #1-7 and WESTERN GUNFIGHTERS #1-6, being killed in #6.

Others who have taken up the persona include Jamie Jacobs, Lincoln Slade, Hamilton Slade, and Reno Jones, either under the name "Night Rider" or "Phantom Rider".

Appearances have included GIANT-SIZE KID COLT #3, THE AVENGERS #142-143, GHOST RIDER #50 (1980), several issues of WEST COAST AVENGERS, and THE ORIGINAL GHOST RIDER #3-20 (1992-94). The latter were all-new back-ups in a Johnny Blaze reprint series, all illustrated by Dick Ayers!

There were also at least 2 brand-new appearances of Rex Fury, in GREAT AMERICAN WESTERN #1 (1991) and BEST OF THE WEST #31 (2002), both illustrated by Dick Ayers.

TIM HOLT #14  /  February 1950

Now this was a real SONOFABITCH to clean up!!!  I started (3 years ago) with a scan from the GCD, which I cleaned up quite a bit.  But as with everything at that site, it was too small (400 pixels wide).

The biggest image I could find (for now) was at the Comic Book Plus site, clocking in at 968 pixels. Still smaller than I'd like, but a big improvement-- if only, size-wise.  Unfortunately, it was a HORRIFIC mess. And fuzzy. So even when I finished (and it took QUITE A FEW HOURS to fix), I'm still left with one where the sharpness and color isn't as good as the smaller one.  Oh well.

Anyway, here's the steps...

GCD after clean-up

CBP before clean-up

clean-up in progress


Look now, because eventually, I'll be taking down the "in progress" versions.

If anyone can supply me with a MUCH-bigger and MUCH-better scan, I'd appreciate it!

TIM HOLT, Part 2

Issues #11-19 plus GHOST RIDER #1-2, all stunningly restored!!!

This is no doubt jumping the gun, but I figured I'd send this around anyway.  I just started a new blog page, which so far consists of ONE western cover, stunningly restored, and ONE Bob Powell cover, "in progress"

For the "in progress" cover, there were 2 TERRIBLE versions online (one at the GCD, another at Comic Book Plus).  Fortunately, Heritage Auction had 2 whopping big images... but BOTH were terribly off-rotation!!  I picked the best one, corrected the rotation (on both of them), then copied the "M.E." logo from the 2nd image and pasted it down on the 1st, getting the size just right before cutting out the parts I didn't need.

This should give you an idea of how I do cropping.  I wanted to make sure I had enough space for the ENTIRE "M.E." logo, and not lose any detail down the right side.  But I also cropped a lot of excess sky off the upper-right, and the entire bottom edge was cropped drastically, because there just wasn't anything down there except a mangled edge that otherwise would have needed cleaning up.  And as you can see, I have a lot to do as it is!

That helicopter is something else!  Man, Bob Powell was TERRIFIC back then.


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