Scott's Classic Comics Corner: A Wyatt Earp Triple Bill

Anyone remember the dueling Wyatt Earp based movies from the early 90s? Tombstone and Wyatt Earp were released within 6 months of each other, raising the question of whether we really needed two biopics at the same time. Well, the funnybook world did one better in the late 50s, as there were no less than 3 Wyatt Earp titles published concurrently.

Let’s start with Atlas’ Wyatt Earp title. It was launched with a cover date of November, 1955 making it the first out of the gate. It was quite successful for a late 50s Atlas title, as it was one of the few titles to survive the infamous Atlas Implosion and ran until June, 1960 ending with the 29th issue in order to make room for the revamped Rawhide Kid. Like many Atlas series, this one featured an all-star crew of creators with great covers by Joe Maneely, Jack Davis, Jack Kirby and John Severin. Norman Maurer and Dick Ayers provided the majority of the interior artwork, but Maneely, Davis and Doug Wildey made contributions. In 1972, Marvel relauched an all-reprint version of the title continuing the numbering with issue #30. Those five issues are an inexpensive way of getting a taste of the 50s title.

With a cover date of January, 1956, Charlton comics responded in kind with Wyatt Earp, Frontier Marshal. Like many Charlton titles (and Atlas, for that matter), the numbering continued from another series, beginning with issue #12. The series had a nice run, lasting until issue #72, cover dated December, 1967. I’m running on the assumption that most of this series was written by Joe Gill, and many Charlton mainstays including Rocke Mastroserio and Pete Morisi contributed artwork. What’s perhaps most interesting is that both Joe Maneely and John Severin contributed to this series, at about the same time that Atlas would have started publishing mostly inventory during the implosion. I’d be surprised if these two didn’t get a bit mixed up about which stories to drop off at which publisher.

Finally, let’s take a look at Dell’s Wyatt Earp series. Launched around the same time as the other two as part of the Four Color series, it begin in full force with Wyatt Earp #4 with a cover date of December, 1958. As the covers clear point out, this is the "Authorized Edition", based on the long running Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp television series starring Hugh O’Brien, whose visage graces these covers. The series only ran until issue #13, cover dated December, 1960. I believe that Russ Manning contributed most, if not all of the artwork for this series and that fact alone makes me want to track down a complete run.

So that’s a quick peek at a rather strange moment in comic book history. For more comic book talk, stop by my blog Seduction of the Indifferent

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