Bookshelf: Wagon Train #4 (Comic)

Wagon Train #4
First Published Jan.-March 1960
Published by Dell Publishing Co., Inc.

According to the indicia, Dell published its Wagon Train comic quarterly at a subscription rate of 40 cents a year for the United States, its possessions and Canada. Each issue thus cost 10 cents. Pan-American and foreign countries had to pay 70 cents, though. Comics.org states that the first three issues were actually part of Dell’s “Four Color” series (issue #s 895, 971 and 1019) meaning this was the first standalone issue. Dell published ten numbered issues, the last of which came out it April-June of 1962, for a total of 13. Gold Key then published four additional issued in 1964. Wagon Train aired on NBC from 1957 to 1962 and then shifted to ABC where it remained until 1965.

The cover features Ward Bond and Robert Horton as Seth Adams and Flint McCullough, characters who had been with Wagon Train from the beginning. Bond passed away on November 5th, 1960; Horton left the series in 1962.

Wagon Train #4 Front Cover
Wagon Train #4 Front Cover – Copyright 1960 Dell Publishing Co., Inc.

The issue runs for 32 pages and includes absolutely no advertisements. Even the back cover has a story. The inner front cover contains a pair of two panel black-and-white previews of the issue’s main stories. The first, “Outlaws’ Cache,” runs for 15 pages. In it, the Saunder brothers are forced to buy a dilapidated wagon after theirs falls apart (for the third time). Little do they know that a band of bank robbers have hidden their loot in the wagon. The robbers trail the wagon train and then introduce themselves, hoping to soon find a way to get to the money. Following a failed late night grab, the robbers decide to make friends with the Saunders, suggesting that they know an easier place to ford a river. Once across, they turn on the Saunders. Thankfully, Major Adams had followed them and saved the day.

Wagon Train #4 Page
Wagon Train #4 Page – Copyright 1960 Dell Publishing Co., Inc.

Following “Outlaws’ Cache” is a one-page text story titled “The Sagetown Skeptic.” Then comes a four page story entitled “To Win A Bet” in which a cougar in a box saves the day when a stagecoach is held up. Finally, the second main story begins. “Desperado’s Dinner” starts off with young Billy Gibbs attempting to cook while Chuck Wooster is under the weather. Unfortunately, Gibbs didn’t cook in a restaurant, he only worked in one as a dishwasher. That night, a band of robbers — one of whom is wounded — sneak into a wagon in which Mrs. Miles and her son are sleeping. While one of the robbers stays inside with a gun trained on the two, the other makes promises that no harm will come to the woman and child as long as the train keeps moving.

Major Adams soon comes up with a plan: have Billy Gibbs bring his disgusting food to the robbers. While they are busy spitting and coughing, Major Adams and others make their move. The robbers are soon incapacitated. Gibbs promises only to cook during extreme emergencies and only for outlaws. A final one-page story called “The Borrower” and black-and-white story titled “No Place to Camp” on the inner back cover finish out the issue.

Wagon Train #4 Back Cover
Wagon Train #4 Back Cover – Copyright 1960 Dell Publishing Co., Inc.

As always, the characters in the comic book are more or less recognizable but far from perfect. Ward Bond appears to be depicted a bit younger than he was in real life and his mustache is somewhat less prominent. The stories are par for the course, with a little action and a little gun-fighting. My copy is in fairly good shape but the six center pages are falling off the top staple.


1 Comment

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    “WAGON TRAIN” was one of NBC’s highest-rated series during its five seasons on the network (1957-’62), leaving whatever CBS and ABC scheduled opposite it, in the dust. And MCA/Revue made a ton of money from it as well, using it as a springboard to sell other Westerns to NBC {which resulted in the network being MCA’s biggest customer in filmed programming}, in worldwide syndication [including its eventual move to ABC in the fall of ’62, along with repeats of earlier episodes- as “MAJOR ADAMS, TRAILMASTER”/”TRAILMASTER”- on the network’s daytime schedule]…AND the Dell comic book.

    Interesting “facts” in that one-page “People of the Wagon Trains”. You could create several seasons’ worth of stories on the TV show from any of the descriptions concerning those “passengers”…and they just about did {“The ———– Story”}. All you had to do was find the right guest stars to portray them….

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