John Ostrander: Walking Tall On the Small Screen

John Ostrander

John Ostrander started his career as a professional writer as a playwright. His best known effort, Bloody Bess, was directed by Stuart Gordon, and starred Dennis Franz, Joe Mantegna, William J. Norris, Meshach Taylor and Joe Mantegna. He has written some of the most important influential comic books of the past 25 years, including Batman, The Spectre, Manhunter, Firestorm, Hawkman, Suicide Squad, Wasteland, X-Men, and The Punisher, as well as Star Wars comics for Dark Horse. New episodes of his creator-owned series, GrimJack, which was first published by First Comics in the 1980s, appear every week on ComicMix.

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7 Responses

  1. Mindy Newell says:

    I’m a fan of THE RIFLEMAN, John, too. And you’re right, the stories were always more than “white hat vs. black hat.”

    Connors also went on to BRANDED, another Western that was more than “white hat vs. black hat.” He was a calvary officer who was falsely accused of cowardice and drummed out of the U.S. Army. Here’s the theme:

    “Scorned as the one who ran.”
    “What do you do when you’re branded,
    “and you know you’re a man.”

    “Whatever you do for the rest of your life,
    “You must prove
    “You’re a man.”

  2. mike weber says:

    I remember those days – Maverick, Fury, Cheyenne

    Eric Bogle wrote a song called “Front Row Cowboy“, about the Saturday matinées of his youth (that cost sixpence). The refrain is

    roy rogers, roy rogers, oh you were my hero,
    a man made of steel on a horse made of gold
    together we rode through the days of my childhood
    memories like heroes, they never grow old.

    and the last verse says

    and now i’m a man, and i’ve hung up my six-gun
    no more do i ride on a horse made of tin.
    now i ride subways, and freeways and railways,
    instead of a six-gun i now wield a pen.
    but part of my heart will always be ridin’
    along the bright canyons and the wild forest ways
    along with roy rogers my faithful companion,
    into the sunset of my childhood days.

    and the song ends, after the final refrain

    he was my friend, yes, he was my friend.
    he never let me down.
    he was honest and faithful right up to the end
    i loved roy rogers ’cause he was my friend.

    Personally, i love Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West..; it may be my favourite film, not just my favourite Western…

    • Mitch Fagans says:

      Never heard that song before. I like the lyrics. And Once Upon A Time In The West is one of my all time favorites, very powerful movie.

      • mike weber says:

        Eric Bogle is brilliant – you may know one of his songs, “No Man’s Land” (also called “Willie McBride” and “The Flowers of the Forest”).

        It and “The Band Played Waltzing Matilda” are two of the most powerful anti-war songs i know.

        But the man also writes some of the funniest songs you’ll ever hear, too.

  3. Tom Lawrence says:

    “The “Rifleman” is, at its best — which is damn good — almost Biblical, a stark, violent saga with characters seemingly drawn from the Old Testament — Lucas, Micah and Mark. Peckinpah played a major role in developing it and you can see actors who became part of his stock company, including Warren Oates and R. G. Armstrong, in the series. Connors portrayed the title character as a somewhat crazed man, driven wild by a tortured past and/or killers who somehow repeatedly came to the little community of North Fork, where he was forced to kill them, week after week. Paul Fix, who frequently worked with John Wayne on the big screen, was a perfect companion as the alcoholic but wise and surprisingly tough Marshal (one l, by the way) Micah Torrance. The powerful music adds a great deal to this classic Western series.

  4. Michael Maddox says:

    I started watching The Rifleman as an 8 year old boy, on an old 2 channel, black & white TV with rabbit ears. Never missed an episode. My mom would remind us when it was coming on if we were out playing (kids “played” together in those days!). When Chuck started firing his rifle in the beginning, me and my brother would grab our chests and fall to the floor dead, every time. I can’t say much good about television today, and what they offer. There are no TV censors anymore. Anything goes, and it helps to destroy the morals of society. This is one reason why I started collecting vintage and classic TV series and episodes, off the Internet. I’ll always watch one of my favorite shows, the Rifleman, and I know that Johnny Crawford realizes what a profound and morally sound memory, he helped to present to millions of TV viewers around the world.

  5. P.T. Allen says:

    I grew up watching The Rifleman. I became a single father. My twin daughters watched reruns of the show with me. After it was over, we discussed the moral of the story, the trust, the honesty or other events through the story. The girls are 26 now, and we have a great relationship. We own every single episode on DVD and have marathons when they come visit. I became a lawman by trade. A quiet guy, who talks his way out of a confrontation with everyone shaking hands and parting amicably whenever possible. And, I carry a large lever .44 Winchester Carbine instead of a patrol shotgun. That’s true, my employer allows it because I hit what I aim at. The Rifleman is a lot more than an old western. It was full of life lessons to teach my children. They became good adults.