Texas Slim greets his horse. Artist: Ferd Johnson.


Medium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: Chicago Tribune Syndicate
First Appeared: 1925
Creator: Ferd Johnson
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The name "Texas Slim" isn't entirely an unfamiliar one in American popular culture. It was the name used by an old-time rodeo star who got into one or …

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… two movies, and, both more recently and more prominently, a pseudonym used by singer John Lee Hooker. But the use of the name that concerns us here is the title character of a comic strip by cartoonist Ferd Johnson.

Slim was only the second-most famous comics star to flow from Johnson's pen. He's much better known for his 68-year stint (probably the longest in the history of American comics) on Frank Willard's Moon Mullins. He was only 17 when he started hanging around The Chicago Tribune's offices in 1922 (the year before Moon Mullins started and he became Willard's assistant), but he got to be so familiar a sight and so well known there for his humor and drawing ability, that he was offered a chance to create a strip of his own. Texas Slim, a Sunday page, debuted from the Trib's syndicate on August 30, 1925.

The title character was a ranch hand, working for a man named Dirty Dalton — who, as might be guessed from the name, wasn't exactly a nice guy. But he wasn't an out-and-out villain, either, and the Slim/Dirty relationship, augmented by Slim's often put-upon horse, Loco, made a good basis for slapstick humor.

In that incarnation, the Texas Slim comic lasted only until 1928. It was revived in 1932 as a topper to Johnson's domestic comedy, Lovey Dovey. But the latter lasted only a few months, succumbing to Johnson's increasingly time-consuming duties as Willard's assistant. It was revived one last time as a Sunday half-page, on March 31, 1940, this time with Dirty sharing the title. Texas Slim & Dirty Dalton set the pair on a more equal level, but Dirty, less than fully committed to fair play, was still the dominant partner. This series lasted until 1958, when Willard died and Johnson assumed full responsibility for Moon Mullins.

Texas Slim never made it into movies or radio — or even the weekday newspaper, for that matter — but reprints of his comics did appear in a few mid-1940s issues of A-1 Comics, published by Magazine Enterprises (Thun'da, Funnyman). These comic books display a very pleasant art style, and humor that sometimes borders on the outrageous. But Moon Mullins was always Ferd Johnson's main job.


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Text ©2004-06 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Tribune Media Services.