Ken Maynard blazed onto the silent screen beginning in 1924. His First National series stressed mile-a-minute action staged on a lavish scale with production values to back it up.
When sound came in, Ken bounced around from Tiffany to World Wide, starred in a great series at Universal, was adequate at Columbia, then began to fade in the late ‘30s at Grand National and Colony under scanty production values.
Maynard’s volatile and self destructive personality helped lead to his downfall. After three years off the screen, a slightly pudgy Ken returned from mid ‘43-‘44 to co-star with Hoot Gibson (and Bob Steele) in six Trail Blazers B’s at Monogram. Other than the really Z-budget “Harmony Trail” for producer Walt Mattox (made in ‘44 but more widely seen as “White Stallion” in ‘47), this was Maynard’s western swan song.
Ken’s first appearance in comic book form was in WOW, WHAT A MAGAZINE published in ‘36 by Henie. This very rare comic brings as much as $600 in Fine, if you can locate a copy.
Even though Ken had been off theatre screens for years, Fawcett, realizing television was reviving his early westerns, elected to star Ken Maynard in a series of comics beginning with #1 in September ‘50. All eight KEN MAYNARD WESTERN issues sport gorgeous front and back-cover full color photos. Art in all eight is by Carl Pfeufer, an excellent artist who also drew Fawcett’s Tom Mix, some Gabby Hayes and a few earlier Hoppy issues.
Pfeufer, born in 1910 in Mexico City, immigrated to New York with his family around age seven. After attending Cooper Union Art School, the Grand Central School of Art and the National Academy of Design, he began as a magazine illustrator in the early ‘30s, next creating several newspaper comic strips, of which the best known is DON DIXON, a Flash Gordon imitation (‘35-‘42). After a period of pulp magazine illustrating, he broke into comic books drawing Sub-Mariner for MARVEL MYSTERY COMICS. He drew many other features for Timely and then Fawcett, in particular TOM MIX, GABBY HAYES and DON WINSLOW OF THE NAVY. Pfeufer later worked for DC, Charlton and Harvey. Doing more comic strip and book illustration after leaving comic books, he was living in Texas doing painting and watercolors at the time of his death in 1980.
Pfeufer’s likeness of Maynard was adequate, but his Mix was better. The comics did give Maynard his Tarzan horse to ride, but saddled Ken with the phrase “Bite Wind, Tarzan” when he went into hard riding action.
Issues #1-3, and 5-8 all feature book-length stories broken into three chapters each. Oddly, #4 broke format with two separate stories. Ken’s series ended in February ‘52.
Today, #1 commands $150 in Fine, #2—$90 with #3-8 booking out at $65 each. #5, “Mystery of Badman City” is probably the best story, action-packed, with a nice portrait photo cover. #7 strays far-afield as Ken battles a dinosaur!?!