Smiley Burnette was popular enough with theatergoers that he ranked among the Top 10 Boxoffice western stars for several years. With the success of their GABBY HAYES WESTERN which began in late ‘48, Fawcett Comics figured two—or even three—sidekicks might generate even more sales.
Fawcett gave the heavyset, jovial sidekick his own comic beginning with SMILEY BURNETTE WESTERN #1 (March ‘50). Unfortunately, sales didn’t match Gabby’s and Smiley was canceled with #4 (Oct. ‘50).
In the comic Smiley’s the newspaper editor of “Burnette’s Bugle”. His horse Ringeye was carried over from the movies. There are photo covers and photo back covers on all four issues, with inside b/w photo covers in #4. The art was mostly by Louis Zansky (1920-1978) who first worked on Gilberton’s CLASSIC COMICS in the early ‘40s, then migrated to WESTERN ADVENTURE, CRIME MUST PAY THE PENALTY, HAND OF FATE and other crime and mystery titles. Stan Asch (Aschmeier) (1912-1992) likely drew some of the stories also which weren’t particularly funny.
Fawcett also debuted SIX GUN HEROES #1 in March ‘50 starring Hopalong Cassidy, Rocky Lane and Smiley Burnette. Lash LaRue joined the threesome with #6. Smiley (with art by Zansky) lasted through #17 (11/52) but was replaced by Monte Hale as of #18. Never cover featured as were the other three stars, there was a back cover pic of Burnette on #3, 4.
SMILEY BURNETTE #1 in Fine is hard to find and overvalued at $132. #2-4 in Fine bring $99 (also overpriced). SIX GUN HEROES #1 (Fn) can cost you $135, #2 (Fn) $81, #3-17 (Fn) $40-$55. Smiley is also featured in Orbit Publications’ PATCHES #8 (6/47).
Okay—with two sidekicks going, Fawcett tried for three with ANDY DEVINE WESTERN #1 in December ‘50. Deemed by Fawcett “The Master of Mirth and Girth” and “The Jest of the West”, Andy failed faster than Smiley with #2 (2/51) being the last issue.
Drawn in a very cartoonish style by Dick Briefer (1915-1983), best known for his work on FRANKENSTEIN at Feature Comics, in the comic, Andy is a carefree, wandering cook with his horse, Hoss. Both issues have photo front and back covers.
Even harder to find than Smiley, ANDY DEVINE #1 in Fine books out at $177 with #2 in Fine at $129.
When Fawcett folded, Charlton acquired much of Fawcett’s inventory and titles. SIX GUN HEROES was one of these as of #24 (1/54) variously starring Hoppy, Lash, Rocky, Tex Ritter, Monte Hale, Rod Cameron
Meanwhile, Charlton’s COWBOY WESTERN changed format with #59 (4/56) and cover-featured Wild Bill Hickok (Guy Madison) and Jingles (Andy Devine) through #67 (3/58). These issues catered more to action. Many of the Charlton stories were hacked out by Charles Nicholas (1921-1985), Sal Trapani (1927-1999) and Vince Alascia (1914-1998) but featured good likenesses of Andy and Guy. #67 was a Giant 68 pager, with some better art by Al Williamson/Angelo Torres and Joe Maneely. These 9 issues price out around $25@.