Reid, Asa Elmer, Jr. [Ace] (1925–1991)

By: Glen E. Lich

Type: Biography

Published: October 1, 1995

Updated: May 3, 2019

Asa Elmer (Ace) Reid, Jr., cowboy cartoonist, son of Asa E. Reid, Sr., and Callie Bishop, was born on March 10, 1925, at Lelia Lake, in Donley County, Texas, the first of two children. Growing up during the Great Depression in a rural community near Electra in Wichita County, young Reid helped his father with livestock, oilfield operations, and sharecropping. He was even a good cowboy, though he preferred drawing horses to riding them. During his last two years in high school, he made himself an art studio in an old chicken house at his parents' home. Reid quit school in 1943 to join the Navy for three years. After duty in the Pacific theater, including a visit to Nagasaki a month after the atomic bombing, he returned to the Panhandle to speculate in the oilfields, raise livestock and crops, travel in Mexico, study art, and plan his career as a writer and artist. On September 11, 1949, in Dallas, he married Madge Parmley, daughter of the doctor in Electra. After several business and artistic ventures in Dallas and Wichita Falls, Reid and his wife moved to Kerrville in 1952. A son was born in 1954. After many difficult years, Reid, drawing on his regional past, launched himself as a cowboy cartoonist and in 1961, despite a diagnosis the day before that he had leukemia, bought a house and 250 acres, which he and his wife called the Draggin' S Ranch. For the rest of his life, Reid resided on this ranch and worked from his studio there and his office in nearby Kerrville. From 1958, when he brought out his first Cowpokes book and calendar, sales and syndications grew steadily across Texas and the western United States until his death in 1991, long past the five years he was told he might live in 1952. A friend of other Hill Country personalities like Frederick B. Gipson and John Russell (Hondo) Crouch , Reid became one of the clearest and most honest recorders and interpreters in twentieth-century Texas of a West that was no more. His captions and sketches plumbed the region's culture. "All my kinfolks were horse breeders, ranchers, or bank robbers," he joked. "There was nothing middle class about us." Millions of devoted readers and fans identified with such timeless and seemingly simple humor. Reid, described by one critic as a "Texas pen-and-ink Will Rogers," died on November 10, 1991, a victim of the cancer he may have contracted at Nagasaki.

John R. Erickson, Ace Reid: Cowpoke (Perryton, Texas: Maverick, 1984). Kinky Friedman, "Good Humor Man," Texas Monthly, March 1994.

  • Visual Arts
  • Cartooning

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Glen E. Lich, “Reid, Asa Elmer, Jr. [Ace],” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 14, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

October 1, 1995
May 3, 2019