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BUCK JONES and the "Iron Horse Trail"“BUCK JONES”

The fabulous Buck Jones became a major western star in the waning days of the silent era and continued on with sound at Columbia, Universal and finally Monogram (The Rough Riders) before he died tragically in the Boston Cocoanut Grove fire on November 28, 1942.

Buck first appeared in comic form in Henie Publication’s WOW #1 (7/36). Next was Dell’s 1938 FAMOUS FEATURE STORIES one shot, a Big Little Book reprint. (For the record, from ‘34-‘43 there were 12 BLB’s based on Buck Jones, 7 being movie adaptations. Published by Whitman and Engel Van Wiseman. In ‘34 Whitman also issued 6 different 8 pg. Jones BIG THRILL CHEWING GUM booklets.)

Buck was in the star-studded lineup (along with Don Winslow, Tom Mix, etc.) for Dell’s first issue of CRACKAJACK FUNNIES in June ‘38. Dell kept Buck in the comic through #17 (11/39). These were serialized stories (the first 3 issues drawn by the noted Ken Ernst [1918-1985]) running from 2-6 pages each. Other artists included Jim Gary and John Hampton. Some of these serialized stories were, again, BLB reprints. With #17 Buck was discontinued and the story never finished with issue #18.

Splash page from MASTER COMICS #28 (7/2). Art by Ralph Carlson.Fawcett’s MASTER COMICS was the next to publish Buck Jones stories beginning with #7 (10/40). Supposedly “written by Buck Jones”, these stories (with Ralph Carlson artwork that did not resemble Jones at all) continued through #32 (11/42)—discontinuing the series with Jones’ death, which was probably coincidental as the December issue (now featuring Hopalong Cassidy) was no doubt already in production (or even on the stands) by the time of Jones’ death in late November ‘42.

Buck and Silver (or Silver-B as he is referred to in the Dell issues) didn’t gain their own comic until 8 years after his death with Dell’s Four Color #299 (#1) in 1950. Dell continued the series after this try-out with #2 in April-June ‘51 and continued with quarterly issues through #8 (Oct.-Dec. ‘52), then reverted back to Four Color numbering with FC 460 (4/53), FC 500 (9/53), FC 546 (3/54), FC 589 (10/54), FC 652 (10/55), FC 733 (10/56) and FC 850 (10/57). As you can see by the dates, at the end BUCK JONES was only being published once a year.

Action page from BUCK JONES FC 299 (#1).All 15 issues featured painted covers with #1-5 also having painted back covers.

Artwork was by Nat Edson (1909-2001), Tom Massey, Pete Alvarado (1920-2003), Nicholas Firfires (1917-1990, once married to Buck’s daughter, Maxine), Jesse Marsh (1907-1966), Sparky Moore (1925-?) and Mike Arens (1915-1976). Buck’s likeness is especially good in FC 299 (#1), 4, 6, 8, FC 589, FC 652.

Stories were often written by Paul S. Newman (1924-1949), Phillip Evans (1909-1989) and Robert Ryder.

Check out #6 for the artist’s “Barnacle Bill” dead-ringer character likeness to western screen comic Andy Clyde.

WOW #1 will set you back some $920 in Fine—if you can find a copy. FAMOUS FEATURE STORIES in Fine goes for $210; the MASTER COMICS issues range from $879 for #7 (Fn) to $200 for #32 (Fn). CRACKAJACK FUNNIES in Fine also bring crackerjack prices, with #1 at $711 (Fn) on down to $96 for #17. These are obviously for “just-gotta-have-‘em” Jones fans! Dell’s BUCK JONES FC 299 (#1) books out at $39 in Fine with later issues bringing $15-$21 each in Fine.

Cover Gallery

Covers to BUCK JONES #5 and #6.

Covers to BUCK JONES FC546 & FC589.