Don't Call Him a Sidekick: 33 Covers of Tonto's '50s Comic Book
By 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.
As was Dell's custom, the "first" issue of the series was issue no. 312 of a publication known as "Four Color Comics," which contained a wholly different story each month and often acted as a test-issue for characters who were spun off into their own series. Tonto no. 2 was dated August-October 1951 and subsequent issues came out on a quarterly or bimonthly basis.
In addition to tales of Tonto's exploits, the series featured articles meant to educate kids about famous American Indians (Red Cloud, Potogojecs), Native culture (the Thunderbird, dances, games) and North American nature (wolverines, owls).
The images in this gallery come from the catalog listings for the series at MyComicsShop.com, where issues in stock are priced between $3.60 and $18.00.
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