Monday, June 14, 2010

THE Masked Rider of the Plains- Accept No Substitutes!

The Lone Ranger debuted on the radio in January of 1933. He would gain a syndicated comic strip in 1938 and make his first appearance in a comic book in 1939. Most of his early comic book adventures were simply color reprints of the daily comic strip. In 1948, Dell comic began publishing a regular Lone Ranger comics series (again, mostly reprints at first) which would come and go as the company became first Gold Key and then Whitman.

Today's offering is Gold Key's Lone Ranger #23 from 1975. Notice that by this time the appearance of the Lone Ranger and Tonto are very deliberately modeled on Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels from the Lone Ranger TV show, still in syndicated re-runs at the time.

Update! I just found out that Pappy, over ta Pappy's Golden-Age Comics Blog, just posted a far cooler Dell Lone Ranger by Tom Gill. Be sure to check it out :


  1. Thanks again for a great post!

    I totally had this one... I haven't thought of it in years but I remembered the story right away! Isn't that weird how that happens?

    I still like the LONE RANGER in spite of how truly odd a character he can be upon examination. Your post after this one totally touches on that... and quite well I might add.

    You and Mykal and Bill Cosby certainly aren't the only ones who've noticed how strange and fixed and unmoving those characters were. The whole arrangement raises all sorts of questions... everything from "Why did Tonto put up with all that crap?" to "Why would a grown man wear a powder-blue jumpsuit to fight outlaws?" LOL

    But then you realize it really isn't all that much stupider than most superheroes. :)

    And what's more... as an icon LR is just plain cool. "Who WAS that masked man, anyway?"

    Peace, brother.

  2. Albie: I find it's best with the Ranger to just sit back and enjoy the ride and try not to think about it too hard. ;-)

    True fact: Do you know the real world reason why the Lone Ranger wears a mask? Because the guys who created him thought Zorro was really cool.

    Also true: Tonto was introduced because the producers of the radio show found it awkward to have a guy riding around alone talking to himself all the time.

  3. You know what's interesting? A few years back I bought some paperbacks reprinting an old pulp character called THE MASKED RIDER. The original magazine was a "hero pulp" that lasted about half a decade back in the 1940s.

    Recently I have dug these paperbacks out to read with my son and they're pretty decent. It was, of course, a blatant LONE RANGER imitation, but it seems to have been a well-written rip-off at that.

    Anyway... what's interesting is that these rip-offs actually read like the LONE RANGER stories you wish existed: the ones with some grounding in reality.

    The MASKED RIDER is the secret identity of a rancher who actually has a day job... He only dons the mask when he's about to kick some butt! His sidekick, BLUE HAWK, is a truly intelligent Yaqui Indian who speaks perfect English-- and Spanish-- and disguises himself often [usually as a Mexican peon] to gather information. There is a wonder horse of sorts, but its not over-done, and there are no weird accoutrements like the silver bullets [what the heck kinda wasteful calling card was that?? LOL]

    The whole thing makes ya wish they had taken the same kind of time to give our beloved LR some of the same verisimilitude... but hey, you can't argue with world-wide success.

  4. Albie: I read one of Fran Striker's LR novels once. It was a little grittier and more real-world than the TV show or comics.

    As I understand it, there are a LOT of problems with silver bullets. Silver has a very different weight than lead, for one, so you have to adjust the amount of powder. Also, silver is much harder and doesn't conform to the gun barrel's rifling as well, making it spin less. This causes a silver bullet to be waay less accurate. Sure makes it hard to shoot someone in the hand!

    As to the cost, don't forget, LR owns a silver mine!