Minorities in cartoons: Lobo

Lobo #1
“Lobo” #1 (December 1965). Art by Tony Tallarico.

This week’s minorities in cartoons entry is Lobo. No, not the more familiar DC Comics alien bounty hunter, but a Western hero published by Dell during the 1960s. Dell writer Don Arneson and artist Tony Tallarico created the hero.

Background

Lobo’s significance is being comics’ first recurring African-American character to headline his own comic book series. Earlier comics starring Black characters were either one-shot stories (“Negro Romance“) or about Black Africans (Black Panther).

Only two issues of the comic were published. The first issue was released in December 1965, and the second one in September 1966.

The premise was that Lobo was a former Civil War Union soldier who’d moved out west to start a new life. Unfortunately, villains framed him for a robbery/murder he didn’t commit. He soon found himself at odds with others, including law enforcement.

Lobo decided to become a heroic gunslinger, righting various wrongs in the Old West. His signature “calling card” was leaving a gold coin (with an “L” stamped on it) on the foreheads of those he’d defeated. The hero had inherited a gold mine from a prospector he’d rescued.

The gunslinger’s adversaries gave him the nickname “Lobo”; his real name’s unknown.

One reason given for the book’s short run was that many newsstands of the time refused to carry a comic starring a non-stereotypical Black character. Thus, Dell received many returned unsold issues.

Like most Western characters in comics, Lobo’s been in comic book limbo since his second and final issue. However, there’s still one positive outcome. The East Coast Black Age of Comics convention in 2006 honored Tallarico for his work on the comic.

(Updated 11/17/16)

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