The Lone Ranger had his share of imitators during the heyday of Western-themed comic-books, although the owners of that particular crime-fighters’ copyright were a heck of a lot less litigious than Harry Donnenfeld.
Alongside the ranks of The Masked Raider, The Mystery Rider, The Masked Ranger and The Black Rider – to name but a few – Ajax-Farrell’s Lone Rider stands alone as my favorite Lone Ranger analogue because of his striking character design.
Although the Rider was sometimes accompanied by a young Indian boy – emulating Red Rider’s Little Beaver, rather than the more fabled Tonto – the character’s closest friend and most trusted companion was his preternaturally skilled horse, Lightnin’.
Laugh if you want, but as one character in the following tale states: “A man’s hoss is his best friend.” You didn’t think Wild West heroes liked to hang around icky girls, did you?
From The Lone Rider #26 (Ajax-Farrell, June-July 1955), here’s “You Can’t Bargain With Horse Traitors!”
The writer and artist are not credited.
The Time Bullet begins its annual 13-day countdown to Halloween with a gothic romance that isn’t the slightest bit romantic.
From Haunted Thrills #10 (Ajax-Farrell, July 1953), here’s “Screams In The Swamp.” The story and art were provided by the fine folks at the Iger Studio.
Here’s a Pre-Code horror story with enough juice to be reprinted/rejuggled three times by the noted cut-rate horror outfit, Eerie Publications, in the late 1960s.
(And if you want the real lowdown on Eerie Publications, which united such colorful figures as Myron Fass and Carl Burgos, I strongly suggest you pick up this book. Essential reading for fans of f’d-up comics.)
“Heads Of Horror” originally appeared in Voodoo #14 (Ajax-Farrell, 1954). Creator credits aren’t available at the Grand Comics Database, but I’m not going out on a limb by guessing the story and art were pieced together by the Iger Studio.
The 13 Days Of Halloween continue with a Pre-Code horror classic from one of the genre’s masters: Steve Ditko!
Although Ditko is better remembered for his sizable contribution to super-hero comics (Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, The Creeper, Blue Beetle et. al.), he also lent his talents to horror and science-fiction titles published by such diverse companies as Warren, Charlton and – of course – Marvel.
Given that the reclusive artist regularly drew these sorts of stories for a good 30 years (1950s-1980s), it’s arguable that Ditko’s contributions to mystery and suspense titles may even dwarf the number of pages he dedicated to crime fighters in long underwear.
Tonight’s tale of a plastic man gone wrong originally appeared in Fantastic Fears #5 (Ajax-Farrell, 1954). It’s merely one of many stories that illustrate how Ditko can turn the most outlandish concept into a legitimate chiller.
“Stretching Things” was written by Bruce Hamilton and drawn, of course, by Steve Ditko.