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ISSUE NO. 837
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DC's "Lost" Western Titles

In 1978, DC launched the "DC Explosion," a company-wide expansion of every DC title which added pages and new features to every title in the line. As part of the "explosion," DC also planned to launch several NEW titles, including Demand Classics and DC Western Classics, as seen in the ad pictured above.
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Unfortunately, for various reasons, covered in DBB #252, the big "explosion" didn't work out as planned, and DC wound up cancelling ALL the new titles, and some of the old ones too. The contents of some the cancelled books had already been written, drawn and inked -- but not colored.

Someone at DC decided to xerox a few black and white copies of covers and some pages from the terminated titles, then bind them together under a plain blue cover (see photo above), and distribute them to a handful of staffers who had created the material.

One "lost" book that never saw print was DC Western Classics. The never-published original art for the projected first issue's cover, drawn by James Sherman and Maurice Whitman, is pictured below. The title was new, but the book was slated to feature old reprints, aka "classics," beginning with Johnny Thunder by Gil Kane and Nick Cardy's Bat Lash.
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The companion book to DC Western Classics was to supposed be DC Demand Classics, another reprint title, scheduled to kick off with the immortal "Flash of Two Worlds," which introduced the concept of the multi-verse. The book's cover is seen below.
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Pictured below is the never-published cover for DC Demand Classics #3, which looks like it was slated to feature the first story in Walt Simonson's wonderful Manhunter series, along with a Jim Aparo Phantom Stranger tale.
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Another planned reprint books were
Battle Classics and Dynamic Classics, seen in the ad below...
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The Giordano Kid Returns

Apparently, at some point before the big "Implosion" struck, DC retitled Demand Classsics to Dynamic Classics, and decided to ditch the Flashes and publish the book with a different lead feature (Batman in "Secret of the Waiting Graves"), while keeping Manhunter as the back-up feature. This title lasted for just one single issue. That issue's cover, by the oater-loving former editor of All-Star Western, namely Dick Giordano, is pictured below.

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Deserting "The Deserter"

Another western-themed new title that got shot down in the great DC Implosion was The Deserter.

The horrible xerox below shows what would have been the cover of the book's premiere issue, done by the late, great Joe Kubert. This cover was originally scheduled for Showcase #107-109, then it was shuffled over to The Deserter #1, which was never published.

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Belwo, also by Kubert, was the unpublished cover
for Battle Classics #3...
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The Deserter was to be about a tormented Civil War deserter named Aaron Hope.

In the story, Aaron Hope rides into Cooper's Canyon and makes an impression on the sheriff and his daughter Marcy-Anne due to his refusal to use a gun. The sheriff tells Aaron how Jase Carson is buying up land at Dry Water and chasing off those who refuse to sell.

After Aaron heads to Dry Water, Willie Dredge who is looking to turn in Aaron as a army deserter, arrives. Meanwhile, Aaron tells the residents of Dry Water that the railroad will come through their town and they rally against Carson.

As a last gambit, Carson snatches Marcy-Anne and tries to flee, but Aaron saves her and puts Carson down. This was the first installment of what was a projected three-part story, written by Gerry Conway, with interior art by Dick Ayers and Romeo Tanghal.

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ABOVE: Dick Ayers displays some of his characters, including Marvel's Sgt. Fury and the Howlin' Commandos, flanked by DC's Unknown Soldier.
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ABOVE: Romeo Tangal, famous for inking about a billion George Perez stories for books such as New Teen Titans, Crisis On Infinite Earth and Wonder Woman.

The unpublished story page below, penciled by Ayers and inked by Tangal, is from The Deserter. Blue sketch lines are visible in the American flag seen in the lower right corner. It's hard to draw fifty little tiny stars in perspective, but as you know, each star represents a state -- and that's how the west was won!
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