365 Reasons to Love Comics #36
So no one liked yesterday’s column? Dag, yo.
Anyway, let’s return to Black History Month, and talk about the first black hero to star in his own title.
No, not that Lobo. This Lobo:
You should remember this guy, as he headlined Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #82 several weeks ago.
I think it’s really neat that something this groundbreaking didn’t come from Marvel, or DC, but from Dell of all places. The series only lasted two issues but it made its mark in history. Don’t listen to those people who tell you the first black hero to star in a series was Luke Cage; no, it was Lobo.
What’s even neater is that it’s a Western book! Starring a black man! Published in 1965! Nothing like this had been done before. (Maybe Mel Brooks was a fan, eh?)
I don’t know much about it, but it looks great; I’d take this guy over an albino Czarnian any day of the week. I wish I had a copy so I could scan in some interior panels. I imagine it’s a damn hard book to find, and for good reason, as you’ll see in the next paragraph.
Lobo was created by D.J. Arneson and Tony Tallarico. Let’s quote from Cronin who was quoting from an interview from Collector Times:
We did the first issue. And in comics, you start the 2nd issue as they’re printing the first one due to time limitations. We did the 2nd one and it was being separated while the first one was being distributed. 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 and they were being returned unopened. And I couldn’t figure out why? So they sniffed around, scouted around and discovered they 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. It was tremendous because they never got on to the newsstand.
I wonder whatever happened to all those extra copies? Probably pulped. How many copies of Lobo are floating around out there?
Temple University, however, in Phildelphia, just down the turnpike from me, honored Tallarico for Lobo’s creation. So even if it was derided and unloved back in the day, it can be remembered fondly today. This is a good thing.
The world’s first titular African-American hero? That’s a reason to love comics.
And here’s the Wiki. Because we all love Wikis.