Saturday, May 22, 2010

FOUR COLOR No. 501, October 1953

I recently stumbled upon the work of Don Gunn by virtue of a classic feeding frenzy at the last MegaCon in Orlando, Florida. I was simply grazing the $2.00 Dell boxes, snapping at pretty covers like a frothing dog (friend Gary Brown was much more methodical), when this comic fell into the maw of my addiction.

The artist for this story, Don Gunn (pencils and inks), followed the path trod by so many talented artists in the 30s and 40s: Disney animator turned comic book artist. He worked for Western publishing and, as it happily turns out, did a substantial amount of work. As I opened this book for the first time, I felt my pick strike into soft, bright gold.

These are two classic Dell “black & whites” (inside covers). More nice stuff from Don Gunn!


  1. this WAS a find! awesome! i never realized Francis was so dictatorial and ill-tempered, though, not to mention a woman-hater!

  2. Prof.: I know! Francis is wildly agressive and mean! He gets so mad, his spit flies around! Not sure what the advantage is for Pete in being his pal. But the art was fantastic. I've rounded up some more Gunn that I'll be trotting out.

  3. Wow, nice find! I would never have expected to find a funny, well-drawn story in a Francis comic book. Francis is a great character here! I vaguely remember the movies from years back, but I don't recall the character being this aggressive and funny.

    Gunn's human characters look like they wandered out of a Walt Kelly Our Gang story, which is fine by me! (except for Pete, but he was probably designed by someone else?)

    I noticed the copyright was United Feature Syndicate...was Francis a comic strip originally??

  4. Doug: Francis the Talking Mule was originally a novel, about a miliary man and a talking mule, by David Stern (writer) and Garrett Price (illustrator)that was published in 1946. The first film (1950) was based on that novel. I can't tell if the comics were based on the book or the movie - but the novel was Francis' origin.

    I have a comic in storage that I'm going to get to soon - a "Little People" title by Western Publishing with Don Gunn art. When I first saw cover and contents, I thought it was Walt Kelly. Good eye, my friend.

  5. This was cool!!
    Francis series always went unnoticed to me, but I was greatly amazed by the high quality of it: Best art and writing! A total story, that's for sure. Good find, Mykal.

    I didn't know either about the easily offended Francis' character. That's a temper!

    I'd really like to know who the heck wrote this! He knows how to tell a funny long story, that's for sure. There's no boring moment here.

  6. Gabriel: I wish I did know who did the script - it's a doozey. Thanks for checking in and I'm glad you enjoyed this. More Gunn comig pretty soon.

  7. Can't get much closer to being straight from the horses...


    Steven G. Willis


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