January, 1966.

U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson announced the resumption of bombing raids in Vietnam, as almost month-long peace negotiations had failed. Stateside, the worst blizzard in seventy years struck a large portion of the east coast, killing 165 people.

Pop music listeners tuned in to the melodic and hip sounds of Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sounds of Silence,” The Beatles’ “We Can Work It Out,” James Brown’s “I Got You (I Feel Good),” and The Byrds’ “Turn! Turn! Turn!” TV viewers watched Gunsmoke, Bonanza, Green Acres, The Munsters, Gilligan’s Island, Wild Wild West, and Mona McCluskey (a forgotten situation comedy, which is why I list it here).

And all across the country, in many of America’s drug stores, convenience shops and newsstands, comic book readers of all ages (over 210,000 if the circulation statement is accurate; take that Astonishing X-Men!) purchased for a mere 12 cents Tomahawk #103 (April, 1966), featuring “The Frontier Frankenstein!”

Tomahawk and his troop of Rip-Roaring Rangers have seen their fair share of fierce battle and bizarre adventure during the American Revolutionary War. Even a team this strong needs a break. They’d settle for a little shuteye, but suddenly they’re attacked by Frankenstein’s monster! Well, not exactly?actually it’s Professor Von Skeller’s monster! Von Skeller has been working for the British redcoats, and was able to capture one of Tomahawk’s men, Big Anvil, and convert him into a big green monster to ravage the colonial rebels! Von Skeller was over 30 years ahead of his time (Mary Shelly didn’t write Frankenstein until 1817)! The things you learn reading an old comic book!

Tomahawk and the Rangers prevail, of course, and in only 16 pages. Big Anvil changes from big green giant to big buff human a couple of times, but in the end Anvil’s hulkish self sides with the Americans to fight off the British. He then reverts permanently to his patriotic self. Von Skeller apparently flees the colonies. Tomahawk and the Rangers finally get to take a nap. The final panel asks, “Is it possible that years later Mary Shelley adapted this grotesque giant, this horrible hulk as the basis for her Frankenstein character? Nobody will ever know — for sure!” Heck, I don’t even know for sure who wrote and drew “The Frontier Frankenstein!” No credits are given!

All those kids who used their hard earned allowance money to buy Fantastic Four #48 (the coming of the Silver Surfer and Galactus, indeed) that same month didn’t know what they were missing in Tomahawk #103!



About The Author

Jim Kingman

Jim Kingman is a writer for Comics Bulletin