The Arizona Cowboy, Rex Allen, made his Republic screen debut in April 1950 and his Dell comic book debut in Four Color #316 (Feb. ‘51). Successful in this tryout, Dell began regular numbering with #2 (Sept./Nov. ‘51) and continued REX ALLEN on a quarterly basis (4 issues per year) through #31 (Dec./Feb. ‘58/‘59) long after Rex’s last Republic starrer (“Phantom Stallion” in Feb. ‘54) was released.
As on screen, Rex rode KoKo, but no mention was ever made of Rex being a singer. In FC #316 Rex had a bearded sidekick, his foreman Booter, who didn’t reappear again until #7 and 8 and finally in #17 (in a KoKo solo story), unless you count the Booter in #3 who was suddenly a young boy (?). An old timer named Borax was Rex’s sidekick in #4, otherwise Rex rode the lone trail in all his comic book adventures.
There were striking photo covers on all 31 issues, with color back cover photos on FC #316 (#1) through #12. FC #316 also had inside photo covers front and back.
Jesse Marsh (1907-1966), best known for his work on Dell’s TARZAN, rendered an excellent likeness of Rex in FC #316 as did Mike Arens (1915-1976) in
Writers included Robert Schaefer (1926-2006) and Eric Freiwald (who also scripted many TV westerns) (1927-2010), Phillip Evans (1909-1989), Robert Ryder (1923- ) and Jean Klinordlinger (1914- ).
Rex’s horse KoKo was featured in solo back up stories from #11-19.
Rex Allen stories were also part of Dell’s all star Giant WESTERN ROUNDUP which started with #1 in June ‘52. Rex shared the spotlight with Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Johnny Mack Brown and Bill Elliott. Published quarterly, Rex Allen stories continued through #21 (Jan./Mar. ‘58), until the contents began to more and more reflect TV westerns.
#1-18 featured small head shot photos of each cowboy on the cover. This was abandoned in favor of some very generic, bland artwork for #19-21. As with Rex’s own title, the artists (most of the same ones listed above) varied from issue to issue with one of the most striking likenesses of Rex in #15.
When Rex’s TV series, “Frontier Doctor”, debuted in 1957, Dell issued FRONTIER DOCTOR as Four Color #877 in February of ‘58, adapting two of the TV episodes to comic form, “Storm Over King City” and “Apache Uprising”, with artwork by Alex Toth. There was a photo cover and inside front cover photos from the TV series. No further issues were published.
In Fine condition, REX ALLEN FC #316 goes for $48. #2-31 range from $33–$21 in Fine. The excellent Dell WESTERN ROUNDUP Giants start at $72 in Fine for #1 and work their way down to $27 for #21. In Fine, the single FRONTIER DOCTOR issue is around $30.