Turok, Son of Stone Volume 8 cover image
Turok is a fictional Native American comic book character that first appeared in Four Color Comics #596 (cover dated October/November 1954). In 1956, Turok received his own title, Turok, Son of Stone. The series, which actually began with Turok, Son of Stone #3, was published by Dell Comics, later by Gold Key Comics, and finally by Whitman Comics (an imprint of Turok’s owner, Western Publishing).
A pre-Columbian Indian (Native American), Turok and his brother, Andar, were trapped in an isolated valley populated by dinosaurs, Stone Age-type humans, and other assorted cave men types. Turok and Andar referred to this strange land as the Lost Valley, and the brothers called the dinosaurs, “honkers,” for the noise they made. The brothers struggle to survive while searching for a way out of Lost Valley, which is surrounded by seemingly impregnable and sky-reaching cliffs.
Through its Dark Horse Archives line, Dark Horse Books is reprinting Turok, Son of Stone. Dark Horse sent me a copy of Turok, Son of Stone Volume 8 for review. It reprints Turok, Son of Stone #44-50 (cover dates March 1965 to March 1966), which were published by Gold Key. All the stories are written by Paul S. Newman, the most prolific comic book writer in history and Turok’s writer for 26 years. All the stories are drawn by Alberto Giolitti, of whom I’d never heard.
Seven issues might not seem like a lot of material for an archival collection. At the time of publication, however, issues of the Turok, Son of Stone ranged from 28 to 38 pages of comics and story. And boy, what comics and stories they are.
There are few pages of this book in which Paul S. Newman does not have Turok and Andar living with the specter of death hanging over them. However, Newman’s “action comics” are not of the constant titillation or throw-everything-at-the-wall variety. Newman’s storytelling is natural, as he offers tales of survival – man vs. man and man vs. nature. These are thrilling tales of wild adventure in a natural world.
A good example of this is issue #44’s “The End of the World,” in which a meteor shower sends the denizens of the Lost Valley into panic. All the complications the duo faces and all those obstacles to overcome are natural, rather than supernatural, even in a book about dinosaurs. These include a forest fire, a stampede, animal attacks, and tribal warfare. In a way, Newman is practically writing these Turok stories as frontier adventures. Newman doesn’t leave his readers without some weirdness; there is issue #48’s “The Top of the World,” a creepy and scary tale about abominable snowmen.
All of these stories are brought to life as comics by Alberto Giolitti, who was born in Rome, Italy and eventually became an American citizen. In these Turok, Son of Stone comic books, Giolitti is a brilliant storyteller, and his compositions reveal a level of draftsmanship that was likely matched by few of his peers in the mid-1960s. [Right now, I can think of only Alex Toth.] Giolitti’s depiction of the Lost Valley includes exotic jungles, massive cliffs, craggy mountaintops, dank caverns, alien jungles, lush forests, striking desert vistas, and inventive underwater scenes – all done with an illustrator’s grasp of landscapes. Y’all, this Giolitti fellow is incredible. I doubt that there are more than a handful of comic book artists working today who could draw like Giolitti – Mark Schultz, maybe, and I doubt he could draw six issues a year.
Every issue of Turok, Son of Stone also has extras about the natural world, the early history of man, and trivia and details about Native Americans. Although much of this material is probably outdated, it adds a nice touch to the naturalistic storytelling of Newman and Giolitti. I always wondered what the Turok comic books were like. If I’d known they were this good, I would have sought them out a long time ago. At $49.99, Turok, Son of Stone Volume 8 is a bargain because the quality it offers is worth more.