Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sensational Strips: McKimson & Aren's Roy Rogers

The forties boomed with many a wild and wooly Western newspaper strip, but the last great sagebrush drama to arrive in December 1949 was the famous movie cowboy, Roy Rogers, distributed by none other than King Features Syndicate. Feeling a lot like a grade-B movie, the storylines followed similar themes of Roy's cinema tales, where our hero would ride into town just in the nick of time to save a lone rancher falling off a cliff or foil a local bank robbery in process. With the help of his wonder horse, the beautiful Trigger, and a group of good-hearted country sidekicks, Roy had some very action-packed yarns. This strip was loaded with long panoramic vistas of the West, and dynamic panel layouts - especially on the Sunday page. Too bad there was not much use of his lovely wife, Dale Arden, in those daily or Sunday gems, but the writer's stuck with humorous partners for Roy to get in and out of numerous scrapes with. Initially drawn by brothers Tom and Chuck McKimson, they did an excellent job with cowboy stories, probably from their many years working with Disney Studios. But starting in the mid fifties, the talented Mike Arens took over the reins (from Trigger) and the other cast members, drawn in his smart, crisp style, was a perfect match for the strip. Unfortunately, the love of the West was slowing dying out in comics, movies, and newspaper features in the late fifties, so Roger's and his pals took their last ride into the 4-color sunset in 1961. Happy Trails!

No comments: