Comic Showcase: Turok, Son of Stone

Happy Columbus Day everyone!

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For our international readers, Columbus Day is a day for Americans to celebrate the first European to discover the continent of North America and helped kickstart a new age of European expansion into the New World that laid the foundation for modern day America.

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However, the truth is a bit more complicated.  Columbus wasn’t the first European to discover North America, that honor belongs to the Leif Erickson and the Vikings.

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Also, Columbus has a REALLY unsavory reputation among the Native American population as a thief, criminal, and as the man who did a lot of terrible things to the native population.

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We would like to avoid talking about Christopher Columbus on this blog so instead we’re going to talk about a comic book starring a Native American.

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Now the history of Native Americans in popular culture runs the gamut from well meaning and respectful to outright offensive but the fact of the matter is that Westerns were really popular in the 1950’s and comic books were nothing if not blatant trend followers.

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Today we’re going to talk about one of the more well known Native American characters in comic books.  Not only was he treated with a surprising amount of respect and dignity, he was one of the greatest examples of the glorious insanity that was so prevalent in the early days of comic books.  Ladies and gentlemen: Turok, Son of Stone.

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Origin and Career

Turok was first published by a company called Dell Comics, which got its start publishing pulp magazines in the 1920’s and moved into comics when they became popular.  They have a long and complicated history that we’re not going to talk about here but long story short, they were best known for publishing non superhero comics and at one point in time they were the most successful comic book company in the world.

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They made their money turning the old pulp characters into comic books and were most successful with licensed properties like Disney characters and popular tv shows.

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Dell also published an anthology series called Four Color Comics and in December of 1954 they published the first appearance of Turok.

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The credits for who created Turok are a bit shady but it is widely believed that he was first drawn by comic book artist Rex Mason (not shown here because I can’t find his picture) and early issues were written by writers Gaylord Dubois, who was well known for his work on The Lone Ranger, 

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and Paul S. Newman, who holds the world record as the most prolific comic book writer with over 4,000 published stories to his name of the course of his fifty year career.

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Sadly, I can’t go into any great detail about the adventures of Turok here because unlike most of the characters we talk about on this blog he’s still under copyright and his comics aren’t available for free (we’ll get to that later) but what I can say is that he was a Native American who fought dinosaurs and was therefore awesome.

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Under the Dell Comics label Turok and his younger brother Andar found themselves stranded in a place known as “The Lost Valley”, a mysterious place in the wild west of New Mexico.

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The Lost Valley was a strange and savage place, a place that time and reason forgot.  There were cavemen, dinosaurs, monsters, and a whole host of other ancient wonders that should have been extinct a long time ago.

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It was up to Turok and Andar to survive, thrive, and try to escape the hidden valley and their adventures were so popular that they kept going from the 1950’s all the way to the 1980’s as one of Dell Comic’s most successful and long lived characters.

So what happened?

Turok’s adventures were popular.  His journey as an actual comic book title was long, confusing, and in many ways even more interesting than then the character himself.  So this is going to be one of the longest and detailed “what happened?” segments this blog has ever seen.

If you look at the top left corner of each of the old Turok covers I’ve published you’ll notice that the company publishing him changes between three logos:


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and Gold Key.

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See, Western Publishing was a separate comic book publisher and was the studio who created Turok.  However, Western had a deal with the much larger and more successful Dell Comics where they would develop and create series that would be licensed and published by Dell Comics.

This deal would continue from 1956 to 1962 with and published over 27 issues of Turok.  However, in 1962 Western decided to leave Dell Comics and published comic books on their own.  Western went on to create their own publishing imprint, Gold Key comics

Sadly, both Dell and Gold Key suffered during the 1970’s due to decreased demand for comic books.  Dell ceased operations in 1973 and Gold Key ceased operations in 1982.  While Western did publish a few more Turok titles under another imprint called Whitman Publishing, it was no longer interested in comic books because they were making more money with toys, tv shows, and their Golden Books series.

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Western lasted the longest, but they declared bankruptcy and in 1997 they were absorbed into Golden Books Family Entertainment.

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Golden Books didn’t last long and the early 2000’s they were bought by Classic Media,

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which was then bought by Dreamworks Animation,

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which was then bought by NBC Universal in April 2016.

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With all this going on you would think that Turok would have disappeared.


In 1992 a small startup company called Valiant Comics picked up three original Gold Key characters to use in their fledgling comic book universe.

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Those characters were Magnus, Robot Fighter,

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Doctor Solar,

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and Turok.

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These titles, along with original Valiant works such as X-O Manowar, Harbinger, and Rai were incredibly successful.

However, Valiant fell victim to some unfortunate corporate problems that are far too complicated to get into here.  Long story short, Valiant was sold in 1994 to a company called Akklaim Entertainment, who was a video game publisher.

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Akklaim wanted to turn Valiant characters into video games and in 1997 they launched Turok: Dinosaur Hunter.

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The game was a hit and spawned a franchise of five more games.

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Akklaim would go out of business after some terrible business decisions and Valiant would abandon Turok when it made a roaring comeback in 2005.

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Today Turok is no longer a comic book or video game mainstay.  Dark Horse published four new issues of Turok in 2010,

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and Dynamite published twelve new Turok stories in 2013.

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While Turok is no longer a comic book mainstay he is an important part of comic book history.  He had an incredibly long shelf life as a character, his stories of fighting dinosaurs were epic and awesome, and he played an important role as a publishing mainstay in some of the most important comic book publishers of the past fifty years.

Not bad for one of the greatest Native American comic book characters.

Cambrian Comics Friday Showcase: My favorite comics #1


So here we are at the countdown of my top 5 favorite comics.  Here’s a quick recap.

5. DMZ


4. Sandman


3. Chew


2. Saga


You’ll notice a distinct lack of superheroes in this list, which is surprising considering that when a lot of people hear the word “comic” they tend to think of superheroes.  Well have no fear, because my number one all time favorite comic every created is…

1. Empowered (Dark Horse Comics)

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Author: Adam Warren

Artist: Adam Warren

Number of issues: 8 volumes as of this article

Written and drawn by Adam Warren, Empowered tells the story of a struggling super heroine trying to build a career and reputation in city filled with super heroes.  While she means well there’s a small problem.  See she’s a normal everyday mortal who became a superhero when a mysterious suit literally dropped out of the sky.


When she’s wearing the suit she has the strength of ten men, the ability to shoot energy blasts out of her hands,


and a whole host of other abilities such as x ray vision, the ability to stick to walls, and even the ability to survive in the vacuum of space.  However, there are two small problems.  Despite the suit’s amazing powers it is incredibly…clingy and form fitting (she can’t wear underwear under her suit) and it also has the annoying habit of tearing really easily despite being bullet proof which means this happens a lot.



Also, while the suit grants her incredible power when it’s intact, she looses her powers when she looses too much of the suit becoming a mere mortal in the process.  And what do comic book bad guys do when they find a helpless damsel in distress?


Wait, don’t go just yet!

Empowered is a very difficult comic book to defend at face value.  Yes, there are a lot of skimpy outfits.  Yes the lead character plays up the “I’m blonde and pretty but I suck at everything” routine very well and yes she does get tied up a lot and winds up in very…compromising situations.  And YES, the author does like to draw “sexy” shots of his lead character like this.


and this


and, sweet Jesus God, this:


But bear with me here because, much like the main character of this story, there is much more to it if you look beyond skin deep.

For starters, if you got past the T&A you’ll notice two things about the artwork.  First off, it’s all in black and white and second of all, it’s amazing!  Adam Warren has a very distinct manga style of drawing and when he’s not doing pinups he can draw really detailed and AMAZING scenery and action with nothing but pencils and ink.




And then there’s the supporting cast of this comic.  The secondary and supporting characters in this story are some of the best I’ve ever read.  Empowered’s best friend is an ass kicking, high flying, perpetually drunk, ninja assassin named Ninjette, so called because she decided to stamp that name on her tiny…tiny shorts.


She’s also part of the city’s resident superhero team the “Super Homeys”

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(yeah, it’s that kind of comic) with some rather…colorful characters like Major Havoc


and Empowered’s perpetual rival, nemesis, and lady determined to make her life miserable: Sistah Spooky.


Empowered also has two other roommates: a demonic overlord trapped in a power bondage belt (long story) that lives on her coffee table and has a very colorful vocabulary.

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and her boyfriend, a former minion (and may or may not have been the inspiration for a certain webcomic about a family of supervillains on this site) to a whole host of super villains named Thugboy.


This may seem like a lot of information to fit into a comic book but Adam Warren gives each of these characters a chance to shine and gives most of them a fully fleshed out backstory and motivation.  Ninjette is running away from her abusive father, Thugboy is haunted by a job gone wrong and his own prejudices against caped heroes, and if I go any further I will spoil something and I do NOT want to do that.

Which brings us to Empowered herself.


Yes there is the bondage and the skimpy outfits and the ditsy blonde routine but I think she is one of the most complete female characters in literature, and I’m not just talking about comics.  For starters, when she’s not bemoaning her insecurities and crying into a glass of wine she can kick quite a bit of ass.  She knows her limitations and when her suit’s gone and she’s bound and gagged she doesn’t just give up.  She gets really creative and is often able to win the day with her wits and mind.

Second, she isn’t just some shrinking violet when in comes to sex.  Despite the fact that she’s incredibly insecure about her appearance she and Thugboy fuck like rabbits without a hint of shame.


Also, Empowered is one of the kindest and trustworthy heroes out there.  There’s a short story in one of the volumes where she’s being held prisoner and uses her x-ray vision to see that one of her captors has a blood clot in his brain that will kill him.  She manages to convince him to go to the hospital and winds up saving his life.  I don’t think there are too many mainstream hero who would do that for a lowly thug.

And finally there’s her motivation.  As I said before, Empowered is a struggling super heroine who is trying to make her mark in the world and despite all the compromising situations she gets put in


despite the continuous abuse and ridicule she endures from her teammates and enemies and despite the incredible danger she faces on a nearly daily basis, she continues to work her ass off to be the best superhero she can be.  Not for fame, glory, or to help pay off her student loans…but because she is a superhero and damn anyone who tries to convince her otherwise.

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Next week, something completely different.