TUROK, SON OF STONEOriginal medium: Comic books
Published by: Dell Comics
First Appeared: 1954
Creator: Matthew H. Murphy
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Disney, King Features, Warner Bros. and other licensors of popular characters from outside media. But quite a few series appeared first in Dell publications, such as Brain Boy, Melvin Monster and Brothers of the Spear. The most famous of these Dell Comics originals was Pogo, but the one that lasted longest as a Dell title was Turok, Son of Stone.
Turok first appeared in Four Color Comics (the catch-all Dell comic that published everything from Woody Woodpecker to Kona, Monarch of Monster Isle) #596 (December, 1954). In it, Turok and his young friend, Andar, pre-Columbian Indians, were out on a hunting expedition. They stumbled into a large valley surrounded by unscalable cliffs, where dinosaurs (which they called "honkers") still lived, and couldn't find their way back out. They were to spend more than a quarter of a century trying to escape that valley.
The comic was illustrated by Rex Maxon, best known for his work on the Tarzan newspaper strip. Other credits are harder to pin down. Some sources say it was scripted by Paul S. Newman, probably the medium's most prolific writer; others say Gaylord DuBois, also extremely prolific. The character was probably created by editor Matt Murphy, but one prominent source that gives this information also says the first writer was Alberto Giolitti — who was actually the artist most prominently associated with the character over the years.
Be that as it may, Four Color devoted a second issue to Turok ten months later. He then moved out into his own book, starting with a March-May, 1956 cover date. First as a quarterly, then bimonthly, the Turok, Son of Stone title chronicled dozens of adventures Turok and Andar had with dinosaurs, primitive cave men and other anachronisms, for the rest of the 1950s, and beyond. Giolitti (whose other credits include comic book versions of The Twilight Zone, Ripley's Believe It or Not, Star Trek and other licensed properties for Turok's publisher) took over the art early on, and Newman (who has written everything from Patsy Walker to Plastic Man) wrote most of the stories.
Like most of Dell's titles, Turok was published at the behest of Western Printing and Publishing, which owned the character. In 1962, Western ended its association with Dell and began an imprint of its own, Gold Key Comics. The first Gold Key issue of Turok was #30 (December, 1962). It continued with Gold Key, same as always (but with the occasional space alien or man-eating plant tossed into the mix), until the publisher itself faltered. The last issue was #130 (April, 1982).
A decade later, Valiant Comics, then run by Jim Shooter, whose credits range from writing The Legion of Super Heroes at age 13, to a highly controversial stint as Marvel Comics editor-in-chief, licensed Turok from Western Printing. But Valiant, not content with the premise that had sustained the comic for 28 years, moved the lost valley from an inadequately-explored part of North America's past (probably the Dakota badlands) to an alien dimension, and changed the dinosaurs from mere dangerous animals to intelligent "bionosaurs", bent on malice. Writer David Michelinie and artists Bart Sears and Randy Elliot launched Turok, Dinosaur Hunter (as the Son of Stone was re-titled) with a cover date of June, 1993.
At Valiant (which later metamorphosed into Acclaim Comics), Turok managed to do more than merely get out of that valley — he actually found his way through interdimensional pathways into the 20th century. He also found his way into the world of licensed merchandise, which he'd never explored back in the Dell/Gold Key days. In fact, he starred in a video game that hit the top spot on the charts, and still stands tall in the history of that medium.
Later revisions and retcons made "Turok" less an individual adventurer than a hereditary post, and tied "his" ongoing story in with that of Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom and Magnus, Robot Fighter, 4000 AD, also licensed from Western by Valiant/Acclaim, as well as original characters created for that company, to form a 1990s-style superhero universe.
No Turok comics have been published since 1998, but the character continues to have commercial value. In August, 2002, Acclaim's British division launched a bizarre promotion — first paying men to change their names to Turok, then offering the same payment to parents naming their sons Turok. Apparently, they expect the Turok property to have a future.