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Roy's first comic appearance--ROY ROGERS Four Color #38 (February 1944).ROY ROGERS

Dell Publishing was the third comic book publisher to enter the field doing so in 1936 with POPULAR COMICS #1. THE FUNNIES, THE COMICS, CRACK-AJACK FUNNIES and others followed. Dell’s Four Color series began in 1939; their Series 1 consisted of 25 issues. Four Color Series 2 began in 1942.

Roy Rogers rode onto the comic book page with Four Color #38 in February 1944. With this comic came several important firsts: the first Western title in either Four Color series and the first Western comic with a color photo cover of the star. MODERN SCREEN magazine reported this first issue sold a million copies within 24 hours—probably a bit exaggerated hype, but nevertheless Roy’s first issue was a runaway seller. Dell used a color photo form on high gloss paper stock and all their comics produced by Western Printing and Lithograph really stood out against all others on the comic book racks.

These Four Color one-shots continued for 13 issues through December 1947. (#38, 2/44; #63, 1/45; #86, 10/45; #95, 2/46; #109, 6/46; #117, 9/46; #124, 11/46; #137, 2/47; #144, 4/47; #153, 6/47; #160, 8/47; #166, 10/47; #177, 12/47).

Gaylord DuBois (1899-1993), a workhorse at Dell, wrote nearly every issue of Roy’s comics from FC #38 through ROY ROGERS #108 in December ‘56—and again from #134 (11/59) to #143 (5/61).

Burris Jenkins art in FC #38.Burris Jenkins (1897-1966) rendered an excellent likeness of Roy in the first Four Color issue but didn’t continue. (He went on to a lucrative fine art career.)

Albert Micale (1913-1993) took over with the second Four Color issue and became Roy’s longest running consistent artist. He set the pace for the series and established how Roy should look in the comics. Micale continued on for 10 years through ROY ROGERS #23 (11/49).

Albert Micale art in Four Color #63 (Jan. '45).Micale was joined from #24 (12/49) through #73 (1/54) by artists Al McKimson (likely a pseudonym for art director Tom McKimson (1907-1998) and Al Steffel), Peter Alvarado (1920-2003), Randy Steffen (1917-1977), Andrew Benson, Tony Sgroi (1924-1998) and other stray artists such as Irwin Myers (1888-1965), Jesse Marsh (1907-1966), Erwin Hess (1913-1999) and Harry Parks whose only full story is in FC #177. This resulted in Roy’s likeness varying a bit from the established Micale image, but this “bullpen” effect was common in comics in order to step up production of Roy’s and other Dell comics.

Youngish Roy with art by Erwin Hess and Jesse Marsh in FC #144 (April '47). Also Irwin Myers involvement.

Art by Harry Parks in FC #177 (Dec. '47).

ROY ROGERS #1 (Jan. '48).Obviously a sales success, Dell began publishing ROY ROGERS COMICS monthly with #1 coming out in January 1948. As stated, Micale’s artwork along with other assistants continued through #73 at which time John Buscema (1927-2002) stepped in with #74 (2/54) and carried the heaviest amount of art, giving us a very handsome Roy.

In January 1957 with issue #109 Dell shook things up, regular writer Gaylord DuBois was off the comic (his stories returned in #134, 11/59) and Buscema was replaced by Nat Edson (1909-2001) who gave us a more realistic, squinty-eyed Roy, far removed from Buscema’s polished work. Also the stories were now
Art by John Buscema in #74 (Feb. '54). aligned with Roy’s TV series; Mineral City is the setting. Edson’s work was fairly consistent till the end of Roy’s run—#145 in Sept./Oct. ‘61. (Roy’s comics became bi-monthly with #125 in May/ June ‘58). However, a few other artists’ work can be noticed from time to time during this period—John Ushler (192?-?), Russ Manning (1929-1981), Pete Alvarado, Jesse Marsh and especially Alex Toth (1928-2006) from #119-124.

Art by Nat Edson in #110 (Feb. '57).The world was changing and Roy rode his last comic book adventure with #145 in September/October 1961.

Throughout his comic adventures there were many highlights…

  • Full color back covers ran through #55.
  • A photo of Dale was seen in FC #137, FC #160, #13, #14, #35.
  • Dale Evans stories with art by Russ Manning were added with #132 and ran through #145.
  • Trigger was seen on too many covers to list.
  • Trigger was added to the title of the comic with #92.
  • The first solo Trigger story is in #20. Runs through #46 and again #100-131 (usually drawn by Harry Parks).
  • Roy’s dog Bullet is seen on the covers of #12, 16, 22 (back cover), 25, 32, 38 (back cover), 42, 78, 79, 86, 87, 95, 103, 109, 114, 120, 129.
  • Bullet was used in stories beginning in the ‘50s.
  • Pat Brady first appears in #69.
  • There are heroin drug stories in #57, 58, 64.
  • There are back cover photos of Roy’s daughters Cheryl and Linda in FC #86, FC #117, FC #124, FC #166, #1, 8, 15.
  • Roy’s son Dusty is seen on inside back cover photos in #12, 14, 22, 33.
  • TV’s Mineral City is first mentioned in #110.
  • #131 marks the end of the comic being a true Western in the sense it had been from the beginning. The cover photos as of #132 now included Dusty and reflected the “adventure” theme of the first story in each issue which now saw Roy and Dusty leaving Trigger at home and flying around in a plane for adventures in Africa, Alaska, South America and Mexico. The second story remained a traditional Western.
  • Dusty joins his Dad on the covers of #132, 134-145.
  • There is a photo article of Roy and Dusty in #132 and of Roy and Dale in #133.
  • There are Christmas covers on #37, 61, 73, 85.
  • In April 1967 Gold Key issued ROY ROGERS AND TRIGGER #1 reprinting the cover of #125 and stories from #121, 124 with Alex Toth art.

Roy and Dustry with art by Nat Edson in #144 (July/Aug. '61).Pricewise, FC #38 (‘44) commands $456 in Fine Condition. The next 13 Four Color issues range from $114 for FC #63 to $45 for FC #177. ROY ROGERS #1 (‘48) brings around $183 in Fine. In Fine prices for #2 on through the final issue range from $60 for #2 down to $18 for #145. The Gold Key reprint (‘67) can be bought for $10-$12.

 

 

 

A ROY ROGERS
COVER GALLERY

Cover to ROY ROGERS FC #86.Cover to ROY ROGERS FC #95.

Cover to ROY ROGERS FC #160.Cover to ROY ROGERS #7.

Cover to ROY ROGERS #14.Cover to ROY ROGERS #21.

Cover to ROY ROGERS #61.Cover to ROY ROGERS #71.

Cover to ROY ROGERS #86.Cover to ROY ROGERS AND TRIGGER #115.

Cover to ROY ROGERS AND TRIGGER #144.Cover to ROY ROGERS AND TRIGGER Gold Key #1 (1967).