RODEO RICKMedium: Comic Books
Published by: DC Comics
First Appeared: 1948
Creators: unknown writer and Howard Post (artist)
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When DC Comics made a commitment to the up-and-coming western genre in 1948 by launching Westerm Comics and converting its ongoing All-American Comics, which had formerly starred the superhero Green Lantern, to the genre, it quickly filled the niches where western characters are commonly found. It had itinerant fix-it men like The Nighthawk, Cavalry men like Foley of the Fighting Fifth, school teachers like Johnny Thunder, even (after a little while, at least) Injuns like Strong Bow. There was even a nod given to those showmen who entertained crowds by demonstrating that what
a cowboy does every day for a living is worth cheering for. Rodeo Rick debuted in the very first issue of Western Comics, dated February, 1948.
The writer of Rick's first story hasn't been identified, but the artist was Howard Post, who had gotten into cartooning by working in animation at Famous Studios. Post had just finished co-creating Jimminy & the Magic Book for DC. His later work for that company included Anthro. Rick appeared in the comic's back pages, along with The Vigilante and The Wyoming Kid, who had already been established in DC's general anthology titles. The lead position, as well as the cover, was occupied by The Cowboy Marshal, who debuted with him in that issue.
Rick's last name wasn't mentioned, but his horse's name was it was Comet, no relation either to the later Supergirl's pet horse or the earlier superhero of that name. His entire schtick was that he had adventures, righting the occasional wrong, while earning his living in the rougher and tougher areas of show business, which is pretty rough and tough under the best of circumstances.
Howard Post didn't stick with Rick very long. Later creators on the series include writers Gardner Fox (Adam Strange), France Herron (Animal Man) and others who were known for DC work in the same general time frame; and artists Jimmy Thompson (Two-Gun Percy), Ramona Fradon (Aquaman) and Tom Cooke (Robotman). With its heterogenous mix of writers and artists, Rick continued at first only through the 27th issue, but he was back in #31 (December, 1951), where he replaced The Cowboy Marshal. After that, he was a fixture in the position until #69 (June, 1958), skipping only one issue, #68.
Superhero fans, who, following the advent of The Flash about that time, were starting to be a presence in comic book demographics again, mark a high point with Rick's story in #58 (August, 1956). There, writer Gardner Fox (whose credits also include The Justice League of America) and artist Jerry Grandenetti (Gunner & Sarge) had him emulate The Black Rider and Redmask, and create a false identity for doing his good deeds. But his guise as "The Masked Stranger" didn't garner enough interest to continue.
By #70 (August, 1958), Western Comics had switched from four stories per issue to only three, and there was no longer enough room for Rodeo Rick.