THE LONE RIDERMedium: Comic Books
Published by: Superior Comics
First Appeared: 1951
Creators: unknown writer and Jack Kamen (artist)
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Westerns, which were prominent among the comic book genres that replaced the superheroes of the early 1940s, had much in common with the earlier dominant genre. For one thing, unlike love stories and war stories, which were also prominent among newer comics, westerns depicted clearly-defined, unequivocal good guys versus bad guys — good versus evil, to put it in its
simplest terms. For another, unlike most westerns in other media, comic book westerns very often featured heroes with secret identities. The Two-Gun Kid, The Hooded Horseman and The Ghost Rider were only a few examples of good guys in the Old West who did their work without revealing their real names. One of the less well-known of this sub-genre was The Lone Rider, whose name seems to be an amalgam of two extant western characters, The Lone Ranger and Marvel's The Black Rider.
The Lone Rider was seldom seen without his mask. When he was, he was rancher Jim Larrimore, who somehow managed to ditch both his duties and his ranch hands in favor of evil bashing, just about whenever he liked. It isn't clear whether or not he rode his easily-identified horse, Lightnin' (so called because of the bright yellow lightning bolt on his forehead), as Jim, or only with his mask on.
The Lone Rider #1 was published by Superior Comics, one of several imprints used by publisher Robert Farrell. The cover date was April, 1951. Farrell had gotten into comics in the previous decade, working in Victor Fox's flimsy empire, which had given the world The Bouncer, Jo-Jo the Congo King and Wonder Man. When the empire imploded, Farrell inherited several of Fox's properties, including The Flame, Samson and Phantom Lady. But The Lone Rider, like Spunky the Smiling Spook, Billy Bunny and Vooda, was original with Farrell's outfit. He was about as long-lasting a character as Farrell ever had.
The artist on The Lone Rider's first issue, and many subsequent ones, was Jack Kamen, who drew some covers for Rulah, Claire Voyant and the like, and some inside features for various publishers, but is best known for his work at EC Comics. The writer isn't known. Kamen stuck with the character for years, with art in most issues until the series ended.
That ending came with the 26th issue, dated July, 1955. The Lone Rider also appeared in the back pages of Swift Arrow's title, and occasionally guest-starred in Swift Arrow's own stories. (Swift Arrow, a pal of The Lone Rider, also did the same with him.) A couple of years after the series was finished, The Lone Rider was revived, as just The Rider. That series ran five issues under Farrell's "Ajax" imprint, between 1957 and '58. Over the next few years, some stories underwent unauthorized reprints at the hands of Israel Waldman, who did quite a lot of unauthorized reprinting, in Waldman's title Blazing Sixguns.
Farrell left the comics business after this revival folded. Tho some of his properties wound up in the hands of Charlton Comics, The Lone Rider wasn't revived again.