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John Payne as Vint Bonner in RESTLESS GUN FC #934 (#1) with art by Mel Keefer.“RESTLESS GUN”

John Payne as Vint Bonner on “Restless Gun” began on NBC September 23, 1957 (spun off from James Stewart as Britt Ponset on NBC Radio’s “The Six Shooter” which ran from September ‘53 to June ‘54).

Dell began a sporadic five issue series based on “Restless Gun” with Four Color #934 (#1) in September ‘58, a full year after the TV series debuted. Mel Keefer (1926-  ) provided the art for this issue, obviously using a lot of John Payne photo reference. Keefer even incorporated a Ted DeCorsia likeness onto the badguy in the first story. Keefer also worked on ZORRO, SWAMP FOX and TALES OF THE TEXAS RANGERS at Dell and ghosted the GENE AUTRY comic strip in ‘54-‘55.

Nat Edson's rendition of Payne as Vint Bonner in FC#1045 (#3).Nat Edson (1909-2001) took over the art chores with FC #986 (#2) (April/June ‘59), FC #1045 (#3), (Nov./Jan. ‘60) and FC #1089 (#4) (April/June ‘60). Edson also worked at Dell on REX ALLEN, ROY ROGERS, SUGARFOOT, TALES OF THE TEXAS RANGERS, BUCK JONES, BUFFALO BILL JR., JOHNNY MACK BROWN, GENE AUTRY and WAGON TRAIN.

Respected western artist Doug Wildey (1922-1994) finished up the run with FC #1146 (#5) in Nov./Jan. ‘61, two years after the series ended, but was still in syndication. Interesting to note on this final issue, the one page back cover story was originally drawn for a TEXAN comic—Rory Calhoun is easily recognizable—and modified for RESTLESS GUN.

Stories faithfully reflected Vint Bonner’s TV character. All issues had photo covers of John Payne with 934, 986, 1045, 1089 having inside front cover photos. #934 also had an inside back cover pinup and #986 had a back cover pinup photo.

In the TV series reader/viewer Mike Paladin has found “at least 4 episodes where Bonner switches-out barrels on his gun and adds a rifle stock for distance shooting” including “Day of the Dragon”. Dell’s writers sometimes have Vint Bonner use a pistol on which he could quickly remove the barrel, add a rifle stock and turn his six-shooter into a special made rifle.

Four Color #934 lists at $30 in Fine in OVERSTREET COMIC BOOK PRICE GUIDE with the other four issues booking at $24 each.

Restless Gun Cover Gallery

Covers to RESTLESS GUN FC #934 (#1) and FC #1146 (#5).