Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Boone Trace!

Daniel Boone is a culturally significant figure in my home state of Kentucky, a key part of the history of the earliest European settlements in the region. And in the 50's because of the Disney movies starring Davy Crockett, the coonskin cap wearing hero (he never did in real life by the way). Between them, Boone and Crockett had many different comics from many different companies. Charlton too had a Daniel Boone comic book and a Davy Crockett comic. The Daniel Boone trace is a long and oddly surprising one, even for Charlton.

Comic Media was a short-lived comics company which tries to put out comics in most of the popular genres of the time - horror, crime, romance, and westerns. Their western outing was a comic titled rather dramatically Death Valley. With a debut cover by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito, the comic was kicked off to a rousing start in 1953.

With the very next issue the workhorse of the company Don Heck took over the cover duties and supplied the art for all of the remaining issues.

The series ended in 1954 with the sixth issue as did sadly the company itself.

A year later in 1955 though, Charlton put out its own Death Valley comic picking up right where Comic Media left off. The issue kept the numbering intact and even sport a Heck cover.

Charlton produced two more issues in the run before the comic Death Valley lived up to its title at long last.

The genre stayed pretty much the same, but the title was changed to Frontier Scout Dan'l Boone and issue ten was his first.

With issue thirteen (lucky that) the comic ended its run at last in 1956.

But a nearly a decade later in 1965 a fourteenth and final issue at long last produce which was all reprints from various previous issues of the run. Note that "Dan'l" is now "Daniel" in the title. This comic sported a vivid and strong Dick Giordano and Sal Trapani cover with Daniel Boone in a crouched stance ready to fend off the enemy.

That cover is an almost exact reworking of the debut cover of Davy Crockett from 1955 by an enigmatic artist who signed his name "Roppe".

As with many of Charlton's comics, the trace ends but only after a very winding path indeed. 

To go and read the earliest issues of Comic Media's Death Valley go here. For the earliest issues of Frontier Scout Dan'l Boone check this out.

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  1. It was either Daniel Boone or Davy Crockett who fought and killed a bear when he was three years old.

  2. It was Crockett who was reputed to have killed a bear at three. That myth, not unlike Hercules and the snakes in his crib, is a wonderful whopper. Crockett and Boone often get conflated because of the way they are depicted in pop culture. The fact that Fess Parker played both at different times on TV doesn't help. Both are men who were really truly heroic, but have become American myth figures.

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