Friday, September 16, 2011
Wagon Train #13
Dell Comics, in particular, went in for licensed features from other media. The appeal is obvious; TV shows and movies have existing fan bases who may be influenced to buy the comics based on their familiarity with the characters and storylines. Of course, one of the ironies today is that the licenses often go the other way, with old-time comic characters making the transition to the big and small screens.
Wagon Train was a hugely successful TV show which ran from 1957-1965. The show featured the adventures of a group of covered wagons crossing the prairies from Missouri to California, shortly after the Civil War. The stories mostly revolved around newcomers to the Wagon Train, and/or the local citizens whom they encountered along the way. This is a common theme in TV, with shows such as Route 66 and Star Trek having many similarities (in fact, Gene Roddenberry reportedly pitched TV executives that Star Trek would be Wagon Train in space). Wagon Train had two main characters; the wagon master Christopher Hale (played by John McIntire) and the scout Flint McCullough (played by Robert Horton).
Note the 15-cent price tag. Dell tried to lead the comics to break the 10-cent barrier on several occasions, starting as early as 1958, but were always frustrated by the reluctance of the other publishers to go along. Finally in late 1961 Marvel and DC raised their prices to 12 cents, while Dell tried to make the higher price stick into 1962 (this comic bears an indicia date of April-June of that year).
The story starts in typical fashion:
Word reaches the wagon train that marshals are looking for a young man and an accomplice who robbed a Wells Fargo stagecoach of $50,000 and killed three people. The description fits Jack. Later, while passing through some mountainous country, the new wagon disappears. They have decided to strike out on their own. Fortunately, the scout comes along just as the renegade Indians attack, and saves them. When the battle is over, the older man shows little gratitude:
Comments: An interesting and unusually sophisticated tale; I can't help wondering if it's an adaptation of an actual episode of Wagon Train.
The backup tale is of a former circus acrobat and his son. It turns out that the father had lost his grip on his wife and she fell to her death. While the Wagon Train is stopped for a dust storm, the boy wanders off to recapture his pet calf. He is attacked by a mountain lion, and escapes onto an old wooden bridge:
Overall, this was an excellent comic. Incidentally, the last page includes a circulation statement:
Posted by Pat at 4:31 PM