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. Lobo’s significance is being comics’ first recurring African-American character to headline his own comic book series. While there are preceding comics starring Black characters, they tended to either be one-shot stories (such as “Negro Romance“) or about Black Africans. Lobo was created by Dell writer Don Arneson and artist Tony Tallarico.
“Series” might be a technicality, as only two issues of “Lobo” were published, one in December 1965 and the second in September 1966. The premise was that Lobo (a nickname given to him by his adversaries; his real name’s unknown) was a former Civil War Union soldier who’d moved out west to start a new life. Unfortunately, he was framed for a robbery/murder he didn’t commit, and found himself at odds with others, including law enforcement. Similar to the Lone Ranger, Lobo then decided to become a heroic gunslinger, righting various wrongs in the Old West. Lobo’s signature “calling card” was leaving a gold coin with an “L” stamped on it on the foreheads of those he’d defeated. Lobo had gained the gold via a prospector he’d rescued leaving Lobo his gold mine.
According to Toonopedia, the reason for the short run was that many newsstands of the time refused to carry a comic starring a non-stereotypical Black character, and thus many issues were returned to Dell unsold. Like most Western characters in comics, Lobo’s been in comic book limbo since his second and final issue. However, there’s still at least one happy outcome: his co-creator Tallarico was honored by the East Coast Black Age of Comics convention in 2006 for his work in creating Lobo.