The Lone Ranger Big Little Books by Larry Lowery and Jeff Kepley

The Lone Ranger Big Little Books by Larry Lowery and Jeff Kepley

H. J. Ward’s first Lone Ranger cover art for The Lone Ranger Magazine May 1937 Picture from the Robert Barrett collection.

 

The legend of the Lone Ranger was born on Detroit radio station WXYZ in January 1933, the product of station owner George W. Trendle and writer Fran Striker. The program was a success from the start, and within a year was also being heard on WGN in Chicago and WOR in New York in effect forming the nucleus of the new Mutual network.

 

Fran Striker

Fran Striker was a prolific writer. He turned out 156 Lone Ranger scripts and 365 daily comic strips including 52 Sunday features each year. He also wrote juvenile novels and edited/supervised 30 episodes of two movie serials.

By 1937, “Hi-Yo Silver!” was understood nationwide. Initially sustained by the station, the program was sponsored by Silver Cup bread starting in November 1933. Bond bread took over as sponsor in 1939 except in the Southeast states where Merita bread retained its franchise.

 

General Mills became the sponsor in 1941, tying the masked rider to such cereals as Kix and Wheaties until the radio series went off the air in 1955. Cheerios sponsored rebroadcasts until 1956, ending some 23 years and over 3,000 episodes of Western radio thrills and adventure.

 

Jack Deeds was the first actor to play the Lone Ranger, but only for the first six broadcasts. George Stenius assumed the role for the next three months. When Stenius quit, WXYZ station manager Bruce Beemer took over the role for a few months, but then he left to open an advertising agency.

 

Finally in May 1933, Earl Graser became the Lone Ranger’s voice and he continued the role until his death in 1941. At this point, Bruce Beemer was recruited to return to the role. He played the part from 1941 to 1955 and became the voice most closely associated with the character.

Over the years the masked man became a popular American culture figure. Many people believe that the character really existed. His possible existence is convincingly emphasized by the powerful voice of Fred Foy following the rousing opening theme from Rossini’s William Tell Overture at the beginning of each radio e

Gaylord Dubois

pisode.

 

“A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust, and a hearty hi-yo Silver! The Lone Ranger!” (Bridge music – List’s “Les Preludes”) “With his faithful I

ndian companion, Tonto, the daring and resourceful masked rider of the plains led the fight for law and order in the early western United States. Nowhere in the pages of history can one find a greater champion of justice! Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear! From out of the past come the thundering hoof

beats of the great horse Silver! The Lone Ranger rides again!”

 

The ending of the program was also interesting. Listeners never tired of the famous fade-out:

“Who was that masked man, anyway?” “Why don’t you know? That was . . . the Lone Ranger!” In the distance would be heard his departure cry: “Hi-yo, Silver–awa-a-a-ay!”!”

Whitman’s Big Little Books came upon the scene the year before the Lone Ranger was first heard on radio. Whitman obtained the rights to develop the first four Lone Ranger BLBs. Who wrote the first one is unknown, but the next three were authored by Gaylord Du Bois under his pen name, Buck Wilson.

The Lone Ranger and His Horse Silver BLB #1181 (1935) Author: Unknown, adapted from radio scripts Artist: Hal Arbo

This first Lone Ranger BLB is also the first medium outside radio through which the Lone Ranger’s exploits were spread. The author is unknown. The title page makes no reference to Striker or The Lone Ranger, Incorporated. The BLB begins with an introduction somewhat akin to the radio program’s lead-in. True to the show, the Lone Ranger and Tonto ride double on Silver. In the radio series, Tonto does not get his own horse until radio script #416 (September 30, 1935). An oddity of this BLB is that it contains two stories: The Adventure of the Stolen Cattle and The Adventure of the Bank Robbery. Scanning Striker’s scripts prior to script #416, one finds two scripts that directly match the story lines: scripts #233 (7/27/34) and #349 (4/26/35) are adapted almost word-for-word. The stories are written in the first person as are the scripts.

In the first adventure in this BLB, Tim Galloway, framed for stealing cattle, chances upon the Lone Ranger and Tonto, who provide assistance to prove his innocence. In the second adventure, the Lone Ranger is victimized by two schemers, Morgan and Flint. They have no idea who he is, but they tie and gag him at the outset of the story as part of their plan to pin their bank robbery on somebody. The Lone Ranger remains bound and helpless until the climax of the story.

The Lone Ranger A BLB BLOOPER #1135 (1936) Mistake Title The original cover design mistakenly labeled this book as a Lone Ranger BLB

In those early days when the Lone Ranger was being developed, the character’s popularity was spectacular. When Whitman prepared a BLB about a Texas Ranger, the designer of the BLB cover thought the book was about the Lone Ranger and titled the book The Lone Ranger. The cover was prepared and ready to be used, but someone discovered the mistake. The printing was stopped and the cover was relabeled as The Texas Ranger.

The Texas Ranger BLB is interesting because it provided the history of the Texas Rangers – they were the inspiration for the creation of The Lone Ranger. The Texas Rangers were the U.S. counterpart to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. They had a regional jurisdiction rather than a national one. It quickly got the reputation of “getting its man.” They started in 1820 as a volunteer organization. Their status alternated between that of a paid full-time corps and a volunteer militia. They achieved national attention for their courage during the Mexican War. They were reorganized in 1874 and became Texas’ statewide law enforcement agency. The Texas Rangers are still active today. They are a branch of the Texas Department of Public Safety.

In addition to this BLB, Whitman published several more Texas Ranger items: The Texas Ranger, a 256-page Cocomalt premium (1935); The Texas Ranger and the Rustler Gang, a 64-page Pan-Am premium (1938); The Texas Ranger Rustler Strategy, a 126 page Taran Ice Cream Premium (1936).

The Lone Ranger and the Vanishing Herd BLB #1196 (1936) Author: Buck Wilson (pen name for Gaylord Du Bois) Artist: William Juhre

The second Lone Ranger BLB was written by Gaylord Du Bois. William Juhre did the artwork. The story line is again about stolen cattle. The victimized rancher identifies himself to the Lone Ranger and Tonto as Harve Walton, “ . . . uncle to young Dave Walton whose neck you saved when they were puttin’ the new railroad through.” This reference to a prior character ties the story to the initial Lone Ranger Grosset & Dunlap novel. A pilot script with some similarity to the “Vanishing Herd” BLB aired in December of 1935 (Radio script #449). Du Bois deviates from the radio developments of this period in that he describes Tonto’s horse, named Brownie, as “dark, of a nondescript color” while on radio Tonto was riding a white horse appropriately named “White Feller.”

The story begins with the Lone Ranger and Tonto stopping a stampede of Rancher Walton’s cattle. Walton’s cattle have been mysteriously vanishing and the trail ends in a box-canyon with a vertical rock wall 50 feet high. While Walton explains his situation, the Lone Ranger plans to disguise himself as an an unsavory character in order to join up with a neighboring ranch (Davies) who Walton suspects is stealing his cattle. In disguise, the Lone Ranger accompanies the cattle rustlers to the top of the box-canyon where a derrick is hoists the horses down and the cattle up in order to move them to a re-branding station 5 miles away. The Lone Ranger leaves the Davies ranch, discards his disguise, and returns to Walton’s ranch to tell the whole story. Jack Scott, who works for Davies but isn’t part of the rustling operation, comes to see Walton’s daughter, Laura, and is nearly strung up by Walton but the Lone Ranger intervenes. Walton and his cowboys head to Davies’ ranch for a shootout, while the Lone Ranger and Jack head to the re-branding station. The rustlers are rounded up except for Davies and his son Bart who escape and kidnap Laura, but Tonto wounds the elder Davies. Walton and his crew catch up with the dying Davies, while the Lone Ranger and Jack capture Bart Davies and rescue Laura.

 

The Lone Ranger and the Secret Killer BLB #1431 (1937) Author: Buck Wilson (pen name for Gaylord Du Bois) Artist: Herbert Anderson

Although some Big Little Book stories match Striker’s radio scripts, nothing was found for this story. Gaylord Du Bois claims that he created the story line specially for the BLB format. The “secret killer” in this book’s title is Ephram Angel, alias Jake Dorgan, alias The Cherub. In this story, it is the villain and not the Lone Ranger who uses disguises. In one instance he shaves his head, in another he dyes his beard white. In spite of the disguises, justice prevails.

Right in front of the Lone Ranger and Tonto, three would-be dry-gulchers are killed and Hiram Jefferson is wounded. When he awakes, Hiram tells of the “shroud of fear” that has gripped his town for the past year. The arch-criminal behind this reign of fear is called the Cherub, and he sends letters to various people to have them rob and kill on his behalf. If they refuse, they are killed on the day that is written in the letter. Hiram refused and was resigned to his fate when the Lone Ranger and Tonto saved him. Leaving Hiram hidden to recover from his wound, the Lone Ranger goes in search of ranchers who can give him more information on the mysterious unknown devil, while Tonto stays near a cabin occupied by an old man, Ephraim Angel. The Lone Ranger finds Frank Barclay Sr. and Jr. who have the courage to assist the Lone Ranger.

It turns out that Hiram is the brother-in-law to Frank Sr. Barclay’s cowboys join the Lone Ranger to hunt down the outlaw gang. They go back to pick up Hiram and Tonto, but when they get to Hiram he is involved in a shootout with the Cherub gang. Next they meet up with Tonto by the cabin, Tonto relates tells of seeing the small child late at night carrying a water bucket. Tonto finds out that it is really a 12 year old girl, named Sally, who is actually the niece of Frank Barclay. Before they can attack the cabin, Sally makes her escape but Ephram (who is the Cherub) shoots at her. The Lone Ranger saves her but gets shot in the shoulder. Tonto then takes off on Silver to chase Ephram but is captured by the Cherub’s gang. Silver escapes and brings the Lone Ranger and Barclay’s cowboys to the Cherub’s stronghold. Silver sets Tonto free and the good-guys capture the Cherub. In the distance the departure cry is heard: “Hi-yo, Silver – awa-a-a-ay!”

 

The Lone Ranger and the Menace of Murder Valley BLB #1465 (1938) Author: Buck Wilson (pen name for Gaylord Du Bois) Artist: Robert R. Weisman

Gaylord Du Bois, under the pen name of Buck Wilson, wrote this original story specially for the BLB format. In the story, the “menace” is Roy Lovett alias Ramon Lazano. Lovett is a villain who is clever at disguising himself, but he is not clever enough to fool the Lone Ranger for long. This book concludes the Golden Age of Lone Ranger BLBs, and it is the last one written by Gaylord Du Bois. From this point on, Fran Striker is listed as the author for the Silver Age Better Little Books.

This story begins with the Lone Ranger and Tonto seeking shelter in a cave again. The Lone Ranger hears a voice and 2 gun shots. He climbs to another part of the cave to find a man left for dead with a head wound and broken leg. The Lone Ranger and Tonto rescue rancher Dan Willoughby and help him back to his spread in Murder Valley. Mysterious mishaps have been occurring the past several months (with blame pointed at the Apaches) and now Dan’s young foreman, Jack Buell, is accused of killing him but Dan’s daughter Bess, who is engaged to Jack, says he is innocent but is locked up in jail. A new comer to the valley, Roy Lovett, comes to the ranch to inform them that a mob has taken Jack out of jail and will lynch him.

The Lone Ranger and all the cowboys head to town with Tonto staying back to lookout after Bess and Dan. The Lone Ranger saves Jack but when he gets back to the ranch, Dan has been shot, Tonto has been strung up and Bess kidnapped by white men dressed as Apaches. The Lone Ranger arrives in time to save Tonto and gets Dan back into bed. He and Jack take off toward the Apache camp to warn them that someone is trying to start a fight between the valley ranchers and the Apaches. When they arrive the white men dressed as Apaches had already attacked the village, but most were killed, but the leader was captured. The leader turned out to be Roy Lovett, who was really Ramon Lazario from Mexico, who wanted the valley for himself. Apache warriors found Bess where Lazario’s gang left her and returned her. When Lazario pulled a knife on the Lone Ranger, an Apache arrow silenced him.

 

The Lone Ranger and the Lost Valley Dell Fast Action # (1938) Soft cover Author: Uncredited Artist: Uncredited

This Dell Fast-Action book has a cover illustration that is similar to the one used later for The Lone Ranger on the Barbary Coast. In this Fast-Action adventure, the story opens after an ambush has left Tonto wounded. The Lone Ranger gets him to a cave and removes the bullet while the ambushers are still in pursuit. The masked man searches for another exit from the cave and when he does, he make a remarkable discovery.

 

 

This story begins with the wounded Tonto riding double with the Lone Ranger. The murderous gang that wounded Tonto (the remaining Cherub gang from the previous BLB) is not far behind. Sighting a narrow cleft in the sandstone hills, the Lone Ranger seeks a safe hideout. A pool of water is in the cave, prompting the Lone Ranger to investigate its source. Tunneling through the thin wall of sandstone, he finds a hidden valley that looks untouched by humans. Guiding Silver and Tonto, the Lone Ranger descends into the lush valley, and discovers a tribe of friendly Indians. The Indians believe in their prophecy that the “Great Spirit” (Lone Ranger) will return riding a white beast (Silver).

The Lone Ranger realizes he cannot change their minds but also knows the gang of outlaws will find them. He, along with the chief, make plans and prepare the warriors for the coming battle. Eventually the 24 outlaws find their way to this garden of paradise, but after a quick and violent skirmish, all the white men are killed. Tonto and the Lone Ranger take their leave, but as they pass back through the hidden entrance they dynamite it so no one will ever find this peaceful valley again.

 

The Lone Ranger and the Red Renegades BLB #1489 (1939) Author: Fran Striker Artist: Unknown

In this book, the theme is that of an army outpost desperately low on ammunition being hounded by the historic personage of Geronimo, the Red Fox. While Geronimo appeared in the last two radio scripts by Striker, neither of them seem to be related to this particular story. The cover of the book is almost identical to the cover on the second Lone Ranger pulp dated February 1937.

Geronimo (the Red Fox) is gathering warriors to attack Fort Wade, the lone garrison that is the only thing standing between Geronimo and the survival of the surrounding towns. Ammunition and gun powder are very low at the fort as new supplies have not reached the fort yet. Both Geronimo and the Lone Ranger know this and that is why Geronimo is planning to attack. Tonto tries to join Geronimo’s warriors but is declared a friend to the white man and is going to be put to death. But the Lone Ranger saves Tonto and then both of them head to Fort Wade to warn Colonel Potter of Geronimo’s impending attack. With very little ammunition or powder, Colonel Potter is resigned to his and his men’s fate. He gathers the remaining powder in his office and will blow it up when the Indian warriors swarm the fort, killing his men and as many Indians as he can. He gives Tonto and the Lone Ranger the option of leaving the fort at night to try and make it through the Indians that surround the fort. Oddly, the Lone Ranger says yes to the Colonel’s proposal, surprising many soldiers.

The Lone Ranger and Tonto manage to make it through Geronimo’s warriors and head for the nearest town. But at dawn, just as Geronimo is about to signal the start of the attack, a wagon full of boxes is being pulled by Silver and Scout. The soldiers start firing, using up the last of their ammunition, in order to help Tonto and the Lone Ranger make it to the fort. Once the wagon is inside, Geronimo realizes his advantaged is gone with the resupply of ammunition to the fort. His warriors retreat back to the badlands. The soldiers cheer the two heroes for their new supplies, but they find that all the boxes are empty. The Lone Ranger has tricked the Red Fox and the real supplies will arrive in a couple days.

 

The Lone Ranger and Dead Men’s Mine BLB #1407 (1939) Author: Fran Striker Artist: Not credited, but appears to be Henry Vallely

The story line in this book involves the attempt to take over a mine by a scheming partner, Vince Coulter, who seals the entrance with an explosion and traps poor Hank Stevens, the Lone Ranger, and Tonto inside. An earlier version of this story line was called “Death’s Head Vengeance” and appeared in the final Lone Ranger pulp magazine of November 1937.

Mysterious deaths have occurred at “Dead Men’s Mine” near the town of Nugget. Hank Stevens and Vince Coulter worked their newly purchased mine but Hank was warned by the Sheriff not to go in partnership with Coulter, alas he did anyway. Most people avoided the mine but Hank was dutifully extracting the gold ore while his partner spent the profits at the gambling tables in town. The Lone Ranger and Tonto were headed to “Dead Men’s Mine” on a mission when they spotted the large identifiable rock that sat precariously above the entrance to the mine. To find out more about the mine, the Lone Ranger disguised himself so he could ask questions around town. He found out that Coulter was losing more than just his share at the gambling tables. Tonto and the Lone Ranger then went to the mine, when they overheard the two partners arguing.

The Lone Ranger shot the gun out of Coulter’s hand but only Tonto made his presence know. Hank was thankful to Tonto and hired him to help work the mine while the Lone Ranger stayed hidden in hopes of finding some important evidence. But Coulter had hired a man from town to help kill off Hank, and he got the drop on the Lone Ranger and knocked him out and then carried him by mule into the mine. Coulter’s plan was to blast the rock so it covered the entrance to the mine, and when he did, he trapped 4 men and a mule. Coulter left for town to establish his alibi, meanwhile Silver freed himself from where he was tied up and came to the entrance of the mine. The Lone Ranger managed to scribble and note on his hat and push it out through a narrow opening so Silver could go for help. When Silver got to town, the sheriff arrested Coulter and grabbed volunteers to help free the trapped men. The evidence was destroyed by the blast, but the Lone Ranger bluffed Coulter into confessing to a murder that was blamed on Hank’s Father.

 

The Lone Ranger and the Black Shirt Highwayman BLB #1450 (1939) Author: Fran Striker Artist: Not credited, but appears to be Henry Vallely

This is the second BLB that appears to be done by the Striker/Vallely team although Vallely is still not credited on the title page. The advertising on the back cover of this book marks this as the latest of three Lone Ranger BLBs published in 1939. The prior books all have full cover art illustrations and no ads on them.

An outlaw wearing a black shirt (Killer Grimes was his name) had committed many crimes and was wanted throughout many counties. The Lone Ranger and Tonto came to the town of Little Rock to investigate further crimes alleged to the Black Shirt Highwayman. Sheriff Tuttle did a good job keeping peace in his town. He had strict rules for the saloon and gambling hall run by Butch Beasley which didn’t set well with Butch. One night the Lone Ranger had a conversation with Sheriff Tuttle and then later that night the Lone Ranger and Tonto were interrupted in their attempted robbery of the Wells Fargo office and barely escaped when a man in a black shirt fired shots at them. The man, who gave his name as Bart Jones, became the town hero. Beasley, after being visited by the Lone Ranger at gunpoint, made plans to use the young gunman (who the Lone Ranger suggested was Killer Grimes) to replace the old sheriff at the upcoming elections. Beasley used the fact that Bart was supposedly Killer Grimes to blackmail him to do his bidding.

After Bart Jones was elected sheriff, he along with the Lone Ranger and Tonto and Beasley and his gang, went to hold up the stage. After the holdup, Beasley lead everyone to his hideout, where the Lone Ranger and Tonto captured the whole gang. When they arrived back in town, the sheriff told the town how he followed the Lone Ranger’s plan to capture the outlaws responsible for attributing more crimes to Killer Grimes, who the Lone Ranger found dead before coming to Little Rock. Bart Jones turned out to be the lone survivor of a shootout with the “real” Killer Grimes that the Lone Ranger and Tonto nursed back to health, but he also turned out to be Tom Tuttle the son of the sheriff.

 

The Lone Ranger Follows Through BLB #1450 (1941) Author: Fran Striker Artist: Not credited, but appears to be Henry Vallely

This BLB takes place in the town of Gunstock. A town in need of law and order. Tex Livingstone, a former Texas Ranger living in retirement outside the town, is asked to help. He agrees to do so but is shot outside his home before he can act. The story was written by Fran Striker and illustrated by Henry Vallely who receives credit on the title page for the first time – his third Lone Ranger BLB.

The Padre, a close friend of the Lone Ranger and Tonto, signaled for them to come see him at the mission. He was hesitant to ask his friends to help save the town of Gunstock from a murderous gang called the “Black Hat Gang.” The Padre knew that the Lone Ranger never fatally wounded anyone, but in order to bring law and order to Gunstock, the Padre worried that the Lone Ranger would have to kill someone. The Lone Ranger knew one person in Gunstock – Tex Livingstone, a retired Texas Ranger, who had hung up his guns for ranching and raising a family. One day Banker Timmons came to visit Tex to ask if he would go after the Black Hat Gang in order to bring the gang to justice and save the town. Even with a $500 reward for capturing the gang, Tex had to think about it. Tex finally agrees and Timmons makes the public announcement, wherein a cow puncher wants to talk to Tex but is killed before he can give him all the information he knows about the gang. Tex immediately returns home where the gang shoots him and his son before the Lone Ranger chases them away.

Tonto removes the bullets from Tex and saves his life. No one knows who the gang members are (they could be neighbors), but some town people begin to speculate among themselves about Pete Humphrey a store owner and Harvey Greer a clerk in the bank. Sheriff McCoy arrests Pete as a gang member because unsold weapons from his store were used in several killings. The Sheriff also arrested Jeff Gordon. This was all part of the Lone Ranger’s plan to have Jeff Gordon (who was the one name the cow puncher had given Tex) lead them to the secret hideaway. Tonto freed the prisoners and gave them a horse to escape and sure enough Gordon led them to the hideaway. The Lone Ranger, Tonto, and the Sheriff follow and capture the whole gang. The leader turns out to be Harvey Greer the bank clerk.

The Lone Ranger and the Great Western Span BLB #1477 (1942) Author: Fran Striker Artist: H. E. Vallely

The story in this book was apparently adapted from The Heritage of the Plains, a pulp story featured in the 6th issue of The Lone Ranger Magazine (September 1937). It is another father and son story. The “flip-it” feature included in the book is the only Lone Range BLB to have one.

 

The story begins with the false arrest of Bart Hepworth, a bridge engineer who the deputies thought (by the power of suggestion) was the most wanted man in the state, Scar Markheim. The sheriff releases Hepworth who is hopping mad at being delayed for four (4) days and who has a tight completion schedule to meet so he doesn’t default on the bridge contract. On his way back to the construction site, Hepworth thinks about all the accidents that have occurred and realizes that someone is trying to prevent him from finishing the project on time. Upon his return Hepworth is shot and killed and a rider-less horse takes off and passes the Lone Ranger and Tonto who are nearby because they have been on the trail of Scar Markheim. The Lone Ranger and Tonto try to help Bart Hepworth as the bridge crew comes out to see about the shots fired. Bart’s son comes out as well as the foreman Buckthrone, and on his dying breath Bart tells his son Bob that he must finish the project for the family name. Scar was hired on the bridge crew (under another name) and was paid by a man named Fenton from a rival company to disrupt the schedule of the work by any means possible.

Fearing that the work will still be completed by Bob Hepworth and Buckthrone, Scar sends a letter naming Buckthrone as the man who killed Bart along with some money via a young girl (Betty Turner). Bob and Buckthrone dismiss the letter as fake but take after the girl to make sure she gets home safely. The Lone Ranger finds the letter and Scar jumps him and alerts the rest of the crew and convinces them that the Lone Ranger killed their boss. The Lone Ranger jumps through a window to escape. Scar knows a shortcut and kidnaps the girl before Bob, Buckthrone and the Lone Ranger can reach her home. They finally capture Scar and return to camp knowing they have missed the deadline to complete the bridge. But when they return, the bridge is complete thanks to Tonto who has captured and forced Fenton to supervise and oversee the completion of the bridge construction.

 

The Lone Ranger and the Secret Weapon BLB #1428 (1943) Author: Fran Striker Artist: Not credited, appears to be H. E. Vallely

This book is an adaptation of a radio script called “The Tarantula Series.” It aired in five parts from August 4th to 14th, 1942 (Scripts #1501 – #1505). A 12 week daily adventure strip of this story appeared in newspapers from October 1942 through December 1942. And it was reprinted in the first Lone Ranger Four-Color comic (FC82) at the end of 1945. The strip was illustrated by Flanders, but the BLB was done by Vallely without credit.

The Padre sends a message to the Lone Ranger that a town, Border City, is under the sting of a murderous gang known as “Tarantula.” The Padre tells him that he can get more information about the gang from a singer named Lolita (a young Mexican singer) who works at Texas Jack’s café. Lolita tells the Lone Ranger that Dan Martin, ex-sheriff, has more information but when the Lone Ranger enters his hotel room the ex-sheriff is already dead.

The Lone Ranger also finds a man holding a knife (with a symbol of a tarantula on it) in the hotel room, but quickly ascertains that he is not the killer. The Lone Ranger helps the man escape the hotel and takes him to the safety of the woods, but the man is mysteriously killed by a knife in the back while talking with the Lone Ranger and Tonto. Don Martin has a son, Don Ricardo, who is a terero (bull fighter) in Mexico and the Lone Ranger and Tonto go south of the border to see him in order to find out more clues as to who is behind the Tarantula gang. During the last part of the bull fight, two spectators attempt to kill Don Ricardo with the Tarantula gang’s secret weapon, a sturdy make-shift cross bow that shoots knives instead of arrows.

Lolita rides to find the Lone Ranger and relays a message from Texas Jack that the murderous gang needs to be stopped and he knows where they might be. Tonto and the Lone Ranger follow the advice of Texas Jack and find the gold mine. The Lone Ranger sets a trap and with help from the sheriff, captures the gang, and eventually the leader, who turns out to be Texas Jack. He directed gang members on both sides of the border to rob and kill, and his plan was for the Lone Ranger to capture all of the gang so he could keep all the money for himself.

 

The Lone Ranger on the Barbary Coast BLB #1489 (1944) Author: Fran Striker Artist: Henry E. Vallely

This book is an adaptation of a radio script which aired as part of the 11 episode “California Series”. The part which became the BLB story aired in 3 episodes from November 1 to November 4, 1943. A Sunday newspaper version ran from February 13 to May 28, 1944. In May of 1951, Dell Lone Ranger Comic #35 reprinted it with slight modifications. The BLB contained Vallely drawings for which he received credit.

Once again writer Fran Striker uses the Padre to relay a message to the Lone Ranger, this time from a wealthy banker in San Francisco named Arnold Gearson. His daughter Sally was returning home after attending school in New York, but when the ship docked on the Barbary Coast a ransom note was delivered to Gearson that his daughter was in jail in a South American port for gambling debts. The Lone Ranger and Tonto (this being their first time in California) had a hunch that the girl was still on the ship so they set their plan into motion. The Lone Ranger disguises himself and goes into the saloon run by one the worst cutthroats on the Barbary Coast, Stingaree, who was in the business of shanghaiing unwitting customers to serve on the crew of the Mary Anne. The Captain of the Mary Anne was Shak Dawson, one of the cruelest men on the high seas, and Stingaree supplied his crew for a price. The Lone Ranger allows himself to be shanghaied so he can get on the Mary Anne to rescue Sally Gearson.

At the appropriate time as planned, Tonto rushes into Stingaree’s saloon to tell him that Gearson has sent for the Lone Ranger and that he is already on the ship in disguise. Stingaree and Captain Dawson quickly round up their men and they row out to the Mary Anne to kill the Lone Ranger. Tonto in disguise is aboard one of the rowboats with the Lone Ranger’s weapons and clothes. One by one the Lone Ranger and Tonto subdue and tie up the whole gang (except for the Mary Anne’s first mate) and rescues Sally as well as all the “almost unfortunate” shanghaied men. Sally is reunited with her father and Stingaree and all his men will now serve as the crew for Captain Dawson, as the Lone Ranger instructed to the first mate. Sally explains to her father that justice will be served because Stingaree and his men will eventually mutiny against the cruel Captain.

The Lone Ranger and the Silver Bullets BLB #1498 (1946) Author: Fran Striker Artist: Henry E. Vallely

This story was originally a daily strip that ran from August 14 to September 16, 1944. It was drawn by Flanders. Dell Lone Ranger comic #9 reprinted the adventure in March 1949. Vallely did the art for the BLB.

An old timer down on his luck, Dusty, worked for food and board from Jim Stone, a Café/Saloon owner. Sheriff Turner and deputy Hank Stevens were standing around waiting for jeweler Sterling Vinson to arrive so they could begin their card game. After doing his chores, Dusty took his night walk to where he slept in the wood shed but was shot in the back shortly after leaving the cafe. Sheriff Turner, as well as several citizens, heard the shot and found Dusty facedown and he was clutching a silver bullet in his hand. Once Sterling Vinson saw the silver bullet, he immediately pointed blame to the Lone Ranger. Tonto happened to be in town picking up supplies and over heard the crowd organizing a manhunt for the Lone Ranger. Tonto rode to their camp to warn the Lone Ranger of what transpired. The Lone Ranger wanted to clear his name and see the evidence, so he and Tonto headed back to town despite the posse looking for him. Before the Lone Ranger could reach town, Hank Stevens was shot in the back while talking with the sheriff (a silver bullet was found in his pocket). An old desert rat was also found shot in the back and tied to a horse with a silver bullet around his neck.

All evidence pointed to the Lone Ranger but the sheriff just wasn’t convinced. The Lone Ranger snuck into town, confronted the sheriff, and took the silver bullets. That night the Lone Ranger appeared at the sheriff’s house and gave back the silver bullets. He showed the sheriff that his bullets were different, and he wanted to know more about Abner Gregg, Vinson’s partner in the jewelry business. No one knew how the three murders were connected but the Lone Ranger had a plan to capture the real killer. The sheriff went along with his plan. Abner Gregg also agreed to go along with the plan, even though he was probably the next target. As Abner walked down the street, the barrel of a rifle appeared in the window of a ruined house, but the Lone Ranger was able to disarm the real killer before he struck again. Sterling Vinson’s random killings were designed to draw suspicion away from himself when he eventually would kill his partner Abner and get the whole jewelry business.

 

The Lone Ranger and the Secret of Somber Cavern BLB #xx (1950) Author: Uncredited Artist: Uncredited

The New Better Little Books were distinctively taller and thinner than the earlier classic BLBs. One color (blue) was added to the illustrations which took up the top portion of each page with seven lines of text below. This story ran as a daily strip in the fall of 1943 beginning on August 2. In 1948 Dell Lone Ranger comic #6 reprinted the strip.

Plans for the railroad were stolen from railroad owner Mr. Harding when he and his daughter were aboard the Mary Jay steamboat. The Lone Ranger, along with Tonto and Dan Reid, were near the shore when they heard shots from the ship. The Lone Ranger swam to the ship to confront the criminal known as the Skeleton, who swore vengeance against Mr. Harding, but the Skeleton overpowered the Lone Ranger in the water and made his escape. Dan Reid helped Tonto and the Lone Ranger find the Skeleton by following a young member of his gang, but the Skeleton laid a trap for them and captured them in a pit. Silver and Scout knocked the gang into the pit and rescued their masters, but the Skeleton got away.

The Skeleton went to the railroad construction crew and announced to all the men that he had hit a gold mine (he just wanted to distract the men from finishing the railroad on time) and the men foolishly followed him to Somber Canyon where the Skeleton had laid a death trap. Unable to convince the workers that it was a trick and there was no gold, Tonto, Dan and the Lone Ranger rescue them and capture the Skeleton. After the sheriff and Mr. Harding arrive, the Lone Ranger leaves with a shout of “Hi Yo Silver, Away.”

The Lone Ranger Outwits Crazy Cougar BLB #13 (1968) Hard cover; BLB #5774 (Reprinted 1980s) Soft cover Author: George S. Elrick Artist: Unknown

This story was written by George S. Ellrick. Although it is a commendable effort to produce a Lone Ranger story, it is clearly not a vintage Striker adventure. Numerous references to the Lone Ranger as “the masked lawman” don’t ring true. And the names of other characters,, which Striker used to spice the stories, in this book e find no one’s name besides the Lone Ranger and Tonto. The only new name is that of the medicine man, Crazy Cougar.

The Lone Ranger came upon two white men hide strippers killing buffalo on Sioux reservation land. After a brief skirmish, the Lone Ranger let them go without their weapons but he knew he had seen one of the strippers before. The Lone Ranger headed to meet up with Tonto at camp where he was working the secret silver mine that supplied the silver bullets and horseshoes. The next morning the Lone Ranger rode to see Crazy Cougar, medicine man of the Sioux, to let him know about the killing of the buffalo so the Indians wouldn’t attack the nearby fort.

Meanwhile, a band of young Sioux warriors on the warpath captured Tonto and took him to the Indian village where his fate would be decided by Crazy Cougar. The Lone Ranger narrowly escapes Crazy Cougar’s warriors by some fancy shooting that impresses them to the point they don’t react fast enough to subdue him. Before warning the soldiers at the fort of Crazy Cougar’s plans to attack the fort, the Lone Ranger stops by camp to get Tonto, but is captured himself and is thrown in the same teepee as Tonto.

Crazy Cougar comes into the teepee to tell them of his plan to stampede the buffalo through the fort destroying and killing anything in the path of the brown herd. Crazy Cougar removes his puma headdress revealing that he is a white man (one of the hide strippers) who once was a cavalry trooper who was drummed out of the service for dereliction of duty. Several civilians were killed when he was sleeping at his post when there was an attack by the Sioux. A young Indian boy helps Tonto and the Lone Ranger escape so they can warn the fort and find some way of stopping the buffalo stampede. The fort was warned, blasting powder was used to turn the herd away from the fort and the elders of the tribe turned on the medicine man (for having such weak magic) and discovered he was a white man, thus the flames of battle quickly died away.

FILM

Republic Pictures released two 15-episode chapter plays, The Lone Ranger (1938), with Lee Powell as the lead, and The Lone Ranger Rides Again (1939), with Robert Livingston. In the first serial, the Lone Ranger is unmasked! Following the outstanding success of the first serial, Powell made a bad business decision. He demanded more money and Republic let him go. Livingston, a member of Republic’s Three Mesquiteers movies was given the starring role. Powell later promoted himself in the Wallace Brothers Circus as the first Lone Ranger. As a marine, he was killed in action during WWII. Although a third serial was planned, it was never made..The first serial was reedited and made into a full length film titled Hi-Yo Silver (1940).

Wrather productions made three full-length films: The Lone Ranger (1955); The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold (1958) (both with Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels); and The Legend of the Lone Ranger (1981) with Klinton Spilsbury and Michael Horse. A Saturday morning animated Lone Ranger series aired on CBS from 1966 to 1969, with the Lone Ranger and Tonto battling mad scientists as well as conventional Western villains. The animated defenders of law and order surfaced again on CBS in 1980-81 as part of The Tarzan/Lone Ranger Adventure Hour.

A Sunday comic strip distributed by King Features appeared from 1938 to 1971 and was revived from 1981 to 1984. Charles Flanders took over the strip from Ed Krese in 1939 and continued as the main daily and Sunday artist until the mid-1960s. Comic books, including giveaways, novels, coloring books, photo albums,, and scrapbooks appeared in great numbers from the 1940s on. It would be very hard to overestimate the number of items licensed and merchandised in the name of the Lone Ranger, especially during the years the program ruled the air on radio and television. Items may be copyrighted by Lone Ranger Inc., Lone Ranger Television Inc., or starting in 1954, Wrather Corporation.

 

The Lone Ranger ©Comcast-NBC Universal

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