Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tonto- Upstaged by a Horse!

Let me start by saying that I am a huge fan of The Lone Ranger and of Tonto. I enjoy the TV series, the Radio shows, and especially the Dell/Gold Key/Whitman comics. I even liked Joe Lansdale's L.R. miniseries over at Topps. And, honestly, one of the best things about the Lone Ranger IS Tonto. Tonto is by far the more dynamic of the two characters. While the Ranger looks cool and solves mystery after mystery, Tonto lays the beat down on bad guy after bad guy.

Not that the Ranger is a wuss or anything, but Tonto is a serious Man Of Action.

Which brings me to today's topic. In 1951 the good folks at Dell Comics decided to give the Lone Ranger's Faithful Indian Companion his own comic book. And man, does it rock. Out of all the Lone Ranger comics I've scraped up over the years, my copy of The Lone Ranger's Companion Tonto #19 is my prized possession.

No, that's not The Shadow!
In his own comic, Tonto has lots of adventures as a young man, living with his own tribe (where they all-including Tonto- speak normal, flawless English; clearly because they are all speaking their native tongue) and as an Army scout (where he speaks the broken English associated with Tonto). The Tonto comics or at least issue #19 are very exciting and good, sturdy Western comics with rather nice art and beautiful painted covers.

But here's the crazy thing. Tonto wasn't the only Lone Ranger character to get his own series. Dell also published "The Lone Ranger's Famous Horse Hi-Yo Silver".

First of all, I would like to state that the horse's name is Silver, not Hi-Yo Silver. I have yet to read an issue of Silver's comic, as I have never been able to AFFORD one. Silver has a much higher resale value than Tonto. Apparently, Silver spends a LOT of time fighting other animals

and actually has arch-nemeses of sorts in the recurring characters of an angry puma

and an Indian named Keenay who wants to capture Silver.

The saddest thing, in my opinion, is not that Silver got his own comic, nor is it that Silver's comic is more valuable. No, the saddest part of all is that Silver's comic lasted for 34 issues. Tonto's only lasted for 33.


  1. i always thought the phrase was "hi-ho" silver. curious.

  2. I hope the guy who drew the Silver comic liked drawing horses--otherwise that assignment got old really quick.

  3. Cheer up, Dale Evans (24 DC issues and 22 Dell issues) crushed Roy Rogers' Trigger (17 issues).

    There was a 1960s song called "Hi Ho Silver Lining" by Jeff Beck, but in the intro to the Lone Ranger radio show, they always mentioned his "hearty hi-yo Silver!"

  4. Rob- Seriously, I can usually draw a decent horse, but 52 pages of horse comics would be a chore.

    Pat- Oddly, it DOES make me fell a little better. I still have always heard the intro (radio and TV) as "Hi-Ho Silver!" Maybe it's because I was already familiar with "Heigh-Ho" from Snow White?

  5. can someone tell me the name of Tonto's Horse??

  6. Val: Tonto's horse's name is Scout. Although, if Dell had released a comic starring Scout, it may have been called "Tonto's Famous Horse- Get'em Up Scout!". I wonder how well THAT would have outsold Tonto?

  7. I had never seen a horse fighting a bear, that's such a daring horse, it's my heroe and the picture above represents the best times of people like me when we sat on the couch to watch western movies.

  8. The phrase is indeed Hi-Yo Silver, and the horse is indeed Silver.

    An editor at Western chose the series title. I guess that theloneranger'sfamoushorse HI-YO SILVER looked better to the editor as a logo than theloneranger'sfamoushorse SILVER.

    All of the SILVER stories (and the series' secondary original character comics stories) were written by the King of Comics, Gaylord Du Bois, who created Silver's origin in the very first Lone Ranger novel, THE LONE RANGER (1936), based on the Fran Stryker radio series character.

    Paul S. Newman wrote TONTO. Newman himself praised Du Bois's superiority to himself in writing animal stories, as possessing a poetical and spiritual quality that elevated Du Bois's animal stories above his own.

    The higher prices are probably due to the demand for cover artist Sam Savitt, who went on to be a renowned artist of the equestrian painting genre.