“GABBY HAYES WESTERN”
Only three B-western sidekicks were ever popular enough to acquire their own titled comic books, and only one—Gabby Hayes—lasted beyond four issues.
Unquestionably the most popular sidekick of all time, Gabby rode the screen with Roy Rogers, Bill Elliott, Hopalong Cassidy, John Wayne, Randolph Scott, Bob Steele and a few others. He even had his own TV show! And he starred in Fawcett Comics’ GABBY HAYES WESTERN for 50 issues, continued at Charlton for nine more issues when Fawcett discontinued its comic book line, and managed one issue at Toby Press in-between.
Fawcett’s GABBY HAYES WESTERN debuted with #1 in November ‘48 and ran through #50 (Jan. ‘53) with comical photo covers on every issue. Fawcett billed Gabby as “The most garrulous galoot ever to straddle a saddle” and “The rage of the purple sage”.
Back cover photos were found on #1-19, many of them movie photos with Harry McKim (#4), Gary Gray (#6, 8) and others. In the comics Gabby’s horse was named Corker.
Art was by (primarily) Leonard Frank (1909-1991) who worked extensively at Fawcett—and prior to that Fiction House and Street and Smith. Other artists were the prolific Jack Binder (1902-1988) (who drew Gabby with a fuller beard), and Clement Weisbecker (?-1965), with occasional stories from Ezra Whiteman, Bob Laughlin (inker) and Carl Pfeufer (well known for his work on Tom Mix and Ken Maynard comics at Fawcett.) Stories were primarily written by Rod Reed (1910-1989) and Irwin Schoffman (?-1994) with a few from Otto Binder and Eric Messman.
When Fawcett folded at the end of 1953 (over DC’s Superman Vs. Fawcett’s Captain Marvel lawsuit), Toby Press issued one GABBY HAYES ADVENTURE COMICS (with a great photo cover) in December ‘53. Oddly, it only featured one Gabby story, rounding out the issue with three filler stories.
Charlton absorbed many of Fawcett’s comic titles (ROCKY LANE, MONTE HALE, LASH LARUE, etc.) including GABBY HAYES (deleting WESTERN from the title) and put out #51 (Dec. ‘54) through #59 (Jan. ‘57), a sporadic nine issues over four and a half years. Charlton combined drawn covers with photo covers (#53, 55) and featured new stories along with Fawcett reprints. Marc Swayze drew some of the new material.
During their run, Fawcett evidently thought a lot of Gabby’s sales potential, featuring the range rascal in MONTE HALE WESTERN #34 (3/49) through #80 (1/53). (Remember, Monte started numbering at #29 picking up from the canceled MARY MARVEL.) With art by Leonard Frank from #40 on, Gabby was usually spotlighted on Monte’s covers with an “extra” billing and small photo.
Fawcett also featured Gabby (along with Tom Mix, Hopalong Cassidy, Monte Hale and Tex Ritter) in REAL WESTERN HERO (which started numbering with #70 after WOW was canceled). Gabby stories were in REAL WESTERN HERO (simply WESTERN HERO from #76 on) #71 (10/48)–78, 80-82, 84-86, 88-90, 92-94, 96-98, 100-104, 107-112 (3/52). Gabby was only full photo-covered on #103. Odd and unknown why Fawcett seemed to skip Gabby stories every few issues.
Additionally, Quaker Oats, Gabby’s TV sponsor in the early ‘50s, issued five 7 x 2½" giveaway comics in ‘51. Strangely, although Fawcett owned rights to Gabby at this time, these giveaways bear a distinct Dell Comics look, even though the COMIC BOOK PRICE GUIDE attributes them to Fawcett. In Fine these hard to find giveaways will cost you $30@. In Fine Fawcett’s #1 runs $123, with prices decreasing to $24 or so by the end of the Charlton issues. The Toby issue, also difficult to locate, will run you about $45.