A little while back, I did a piece of dog-centric comics of yesteryear. Today, I thought I’d do the same for horses. I know that you’re champing at the bit – so let’s get started:
The Lone Ranger’s horse Silver is probably one of the most famous horses of all-time. Including two issues from the Four Color series, Hi-Yo Silver ran for an impressive 36 issues until late 1960. The stories are entertaining and the art is gorgeous, much of it by the great Alberto Giolitti.
The success of Silver was almost certainly the inspiration for Charlton’s Black Fury, a series that followed the same format. Perhaps even more so than Silver, Black Fury was the Rex the Wonder Dog of the equine world. Many of Charlton’s usual suspects worked on this title including Dick Giordano, Rocco Mastroserio and Maurice Whitman. This series lasted more than 10 years, totaling 57 issues.
Two other ‘celebrity’ horses had their very own titles during the 50s. The first is Trigger, who starred in his very own series Roy Rogers’ Trigger, which ran for 19 issues and featured some beautiful painted covers by Sam Savitt. That series was merged with Roy Rogers to become Roy Rogers and Trigger, where Trigger remained as co-headliner from 1955 until the series was cancelled in 1961. This series featured all photo covers and artwork by the likes of John Buscema and Russ Manning. Unfortunately, Trigger was absent for the vast majority of the covers and many of the stories. In truth, the series should have been called Roy Rogers & Dusty for the last couple of years.
Following the exact same path was Champion, Gene Autry’s trusted steed. Champion had his own title, Gene Autry’s Champion, for 19 issues, many of which featured lovely Sam Savitt painted covers. In 1955, it was merged with Gene Autry Comics to become Gene Autry & Champion, which continued until 1959. This series did differ somewhat, as the stories remained focused on Champion right to the very end. Russ Manning and Jesse Marsh were two of the artists to work on this series.
Dell’s Four Color series was jam packed with other horse-based books, some of which were spun out into their own series including Fury and Mister Ed, the Talking Horse and the TV version of National Velvet. These all moved over to Gold Key for a short period after the Dell/Western split. Long time Lone Ranger artist Tom Gill worked on many of the Fury issues.
Four Color was also the place to fine horses from the big screen, such Gypsy Colt as well as horses featured in literature, including both Black Beauty and Son of Black Beauty.
Sports comics were quite popular in the 40s and 50s, and thoroughbreds were as popular as any other sports celebrity of the day. There are horse racing stories scattered throughout various sports titles, including the story of Man O' War featured as the cover story in Ziff-Davis’ Bill Stern’s Sports Book #2.
There have been horses featured in plenty of other comic book genres such as superhero and funny animal, but none have really been given the star treatment. One of the most prominent was the ghost horse, Nightmare who shared top billing with Casper in the Casper & Nightmare series that ran for 40+ issues during the 60s and 70s.
Finally, I’ve leave off with the Horses issue from Gilberton’s World Around Us #3. Regular readers will recall that this title also had an issue dedicated to Dogs. I’ve never actually read this book but artists such as Reed Crandall and Graham Ingels were contributing to Gilberton at this time, so there’s likely some nice stuff inside. Yes, LB Cole fans – that is his signature on the cover!
There are other horse-based books, but I think I’m reading to be put out to pasture. For more comic related gibberish – stop by my blog: Seduction of the Indifferent