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Lobo

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Lobo
Lobo-1q

Real Name

Unknown

First Appearance

Lobo #1 (Dec. 1965)

Original Publisher

Dell

Created by

D. J. Arneson & Tony Tallarico

Origin

Issue One begins with the end of the Civil War. Lobo is a solider being mustered out the Union Army. After being attacked by a small band of confederate soldiers whom his compatriots shoot down Lobo smashes his rifle against a tree and leaves for the west hoping to leave the world of violence behind for the life of a cowboy. He soon finds that life as a cowboy means always proving himself to his white colleagues. Though he is tolerant and forgiving of the unfair treatment he defends himself and remains dignified, often humbling those who would humble him. Unfortunately two of the cowboys that he had to humble accuse him of robbing and murdering the paymaster of their cattle drive, the real murderer is another cowpoke by the name of Johnson.

As Lobo goes on the run hoping to prove his innocence he meets a prospector who is drowning in a river. It is revealed that the prospector was also accused of a crime he did not commit and the two form a bond. The prospector offers Lobo his fortune to fund his quest to prove himself innocent, but he refuses, but he does take a pouch full of gold coins with the engraving of a wolf and the letter L, a coin that would become his trademark.

The two cowboys who accused him of the crime along with an accomplice of theirs rob a local bank and Lobo apprehends them and turns them into a sheriff who declines to arrest Lobo after getting one of the Lobo coins saying “I don’t know there was just something about him…” Later he finds Johnson staked in the sun, punishment by a group of Apaches whose horse he had tried to steal. Johnson dies and along with him Lobo’s only chance at proving his innocence. He decides to ride back and visit the old miner who made his coins only to find him dying. The miner asks Lobo to take his fortune in gold and do some good with it, which is what he decides to do in the closing pages of Issue 1.

Lobo-2q

In Issue 2 Lobo finds a man tied in the back of a wagon heading for bottomless canyon. After saving him it is revealed that he is a local farmer who is being bullied off his land by “the King of the West”, a local cattle owner with delusions of making a new Camelot out of the west with himself as King Arthur.

Lobo decides to help and tries to round up a resistance but finds the locals reluctant to cross the King. Lobo rigs a flash bomb out of a bag of flour and some black powder and apprehends some of the King's men. The King decides to tarnish Lobo’s reputation by making some duplicate Lobo coins and leaving them at various crime scenes. The trick is soon uncovered when the coins are revealed to be lead with a thin sheen of gold on the outside.

Lobo rides to the King's castle for a final showdown. The King asks Lobo to choose from his impressive collection of anachronistic weapons from the Middle Ages. The two men fight with spears, maces and crossbows, but when the tide turns against him the King calls in his cronies. Lobo makes his escape along with a girl the King had been holding. They meet up with the sheriff and when the girl reveals to the sheriff that the King had been holding her hostage the King shoots her, wounding but not killing her.

Lobo chases him down and the King, in haste to escape, falls into quick sand. Lobo saves the ungrateful King who still tries to kill Lobo, but Lobo knocks him out and hands him over to the sheriff who lets Lobo go even though he is still technically a wanted fugitive.

Publication History

Lobo starred in Dell Comics' little-known, two-issue series Lobo (Dec. 1965 & Sept. 1966), also listed as Dell Comics #12-438-512 and #12-439-610 in the company's quirky numbering system. Created by Dell editor and writer Don "D. J." Arneson and artist Tony Tallarico, it chronicled the Old West adventures of a wealthy, unnamed African-American gunslinger called "Lobo" by the first issue's antagonists. On the foreheads of vanquished criminals, Lobo would leave the calling card of a gold coin imprinted with the images of a wolf and the letter "L".

Tallarico in a 2006 interview said that he and Arneson co-created the character based on an idea and a plot by Tallarico, with Arneson scripting it:

"I had an idea for Lobo. And I approached D. J. Arneson and he brought it in and showed it to [Dell editor-in-chief] Helen Meyer. ... She loved it. She really wanted to do it. Great, so we did it. We did the first issue. And in comics, you start the second issue as they're printing the first one, due to time limitations. ... All of the sudden, they stopped the wagon. They stopped production on the issue. They discovered that as they were sending out bundles of comics out to the distributors [that] they were being returned unopened. And I couldn't figure out why. So they sniffed around, scouted around and discovered [that many sellers] were opposed to Lobo, who was the first black Western hero. That was the end of the book. It sold nothing. They printed 200,000; that was the going print-rate. They sold, oh, 10-15 thousand."

Arneson, in a 2010 interview, disputed this version of Lobo's creation:

"Tony Tallarico illustrated Lobo. He did not create the character, I did. He did not plot the storyline, I did. He did not write the script, I did. And he did not approach me with the original concept or idea. ... I developed the original premise for Lobo (originally Black Lobo, a title Helen Meyer rejected as inappropriate at the time...) from the book The Negro Cowboys by Philip Durham and Everett L. Jones.... On reading the book in 1965, I recognized the potential for a black comic book hero based on historical fact.... I added other elements to the original Black Lobo character concept, e.g.: Robin Hood, the Lone Ranger, etc., as well as the familiar adventurous spirit of the American cowboy of popular Western novels and cowboy movies of that time.... Tony illustrated a mock-up cover ... which was presented to Helen Meyer along with the proposal I wrote.... I then wrote the script and Tony Illustrated the comic book from my script. ... I have no idea on what information or source ... Tony based his explanation for the discontinuation of Lobo. Sales were the primary basis for the continuation or discontinuation of a series title. I neither have now nor did I have at that time any intimation or suggestion that Lobo was discontinued because anyone was somehow conspiratorially "opposed" to it."

Notes

  • Lobo was the first African American comic book character to headline his own series.
  • Having been released in 1965 by a company no longer in existence, the character of Lobo can be considered an Orphan Work.

See Also

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