July 13, 2013

33 Tonto comic-book covers

Don't Call Him a Sidekick: 33 Covers of Tonto's '50s Comic BookBy now we're all familiar with Johnny Depp's stated intentions with his performance in The Lone Ranger--one of them being to wash the "sidekick" stink off of the character of Tonto. The movie opened nationwide July 3, and audiences are now free to judge his success or failure in theaters everywhere.

But about this "sidekick" image--beginning in January 1951 and running through January 1959, Tonto had his own comic book in which he was not a sidekick at all. Published by Dell with the title The Lone Ranger's Companion Tonto (admittedly, that wording makes it sound a little sidekick-y), each issue featured two-fisted, double-barreled swashbuckling Tonto action with no interruptions by the masked man and his silver bullets. The comic book's popularity was no doubt boosted by that of the Lone Ranger television series, in which Tonto was played by Jay Silverheels, which ran from 1949 to 1957.
The first issue (below):Dell Four Color #312

Description from MyComicsShop.com: Indicia title is "TONTO, No. 312." Painted cover art. Description of the Hopi Indians' Snake Dance. Laughing Dog's War Party, art by Jon Small; Tonto returns to his home village to find that hunters have been killed or wounded by rifles that blow up when fired. Tonto and the Stock Killers; Tonto helps a rancher by setting traps for a pack of wolves that is preying on his cattle. The American Cayuse; History of horses in North America, starting with their introduction into Mexico by Hernando Cortez. The Shaman, art by Jon Small; Tonto and his friends Tall Pines and Swift Otter help a white man retrieve his gold after he is robbed by three other white men. Directions for building a wigwam. Description of the construction of a batista, a giant war club used by the Arikara and Huron tribes to crush enemy's canoes.
Comment:  For more on Tonto, see New Tonto as Racist as Old Tonto and Best of the Lone Ranger Reviewed.

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