January 26, 2009

Klondike Ho!

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Randall Winn over on his blogger, REWinn Scrapbook had a post on December 27, 2008 on the 1994 comic book style illustrated history book called, Klondike Ho! I agree 100% with Mr. Winn that this 72 page history of the Klondike gold rush is a perfect book for youngsters. It will be the perfect starter book I would want my son to read before he goes with me to Seattle and Skagway, Alaska for the first time. It is a generic history with some mistakes commonly passed down through the decades so there is no need to pick on the author for these imperfections. No book on the market will tell a totally truthful story on Soapy's adentures ... except when mine comes out.

I found Mr. Winn's blog through a Google search and posted a comment as he had mentioned Soapy Smith was pictured in the book. He not only responded, but offered to send the book our way. Ladies and gentlemen, Soapy Smith through the eyes of author/illustrator, Curtis Vos.


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The first panel dealing with Soapy is called, Life in Skagway. Clearly it indicates that the author did his history homework. He includes the (surely exaggerated) story told of Mounties sleeping in their beds and not rising when bullets entered their room because it was a nightly occurrence. I did enjoy the bunco steerer making friends with his prey and offering to show him around town, as Soapy rests against a building observing.


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The second panel regarding Soapy is called Soapy's Reign. In the gang to the right of Soapy is obviously "Reverend" John L. Bowers, whom the artist must have used an actual photograph of Bowers with his droopy eyes, mustache and derby hat. I was also impressed with the rendition of Jeff Smith's Parlor, again the artist obviously viewing old photographs. The alley in which John Stewart was swindled and robbed is in full view.


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The third panel is entitled Enter Bill Reid, however it should be Frank Reid. Reid's droopy handlebar mustache is no coincidence. There was little room in this generic telling of Soapy's story in Alaska to include the fact that Frank Reid once worked as a bartender in one of Soapy's saloons.


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The fourth and final panel is appropriately called, Shootout at the Dock. Although a cartoon, it is one of the few depictions of the gunfight that show Soapy and Frank at the proper distance from one another. There are only two shots fired here whereas there were between five and eight shots actually heard. There is no Jesse Murphy to finish off Soapy ... but we can't blame the author for not knowing that. Spread throughout the book are various references on Soapy and his gang. He is definitely well represented, no doubt about that.


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For a condensed comic book style account I am very impressed and thrilled to have it in the family collection. For those who wish a copy of this fun book, it is no longer in publication but Googling the title will surely turn up some copies available for purchase.

Klondike Ho! information:
  • Author: Curtis Vos
  • Format: Paperback, 72 pages
  • Published: Todd Publications (December 1997)
  • ISBN: 978-0969461241

2 comments:

  1. Great write-up!

    (I especially liked "...No book on the market will tell a totally truthful story on Soapy's adventures ... except when mine comes out." LOL!)

    I wonder if we can find Mr. Vos and get him to re-issue his work as a webcomic. In 1994 there was no such thing but now it's easy ... who knows, he might even sell a few more books.)

    Anyway, I'm glad you enjoyed the book & it has CLEARLY found its way to the right home!!

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  2. Thanks, Mr. Winn.

    I did try to find the author, Mr. Vos, but it appears he has no sites of his own that I could find. Perhaps writing to one of his publishers would turn up an address.

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