Return with us now to those thrilling variants of yesteryear.

§ July 26th, 2021 § Filed under variant covers § 5 Comments

So this installment in my ongoing variant cover-age is going to be slightly less involved than previous ones, because 1) hey, I could use a small break, and 2) I came across something neat while processing some comics and thought I’d discuss it here.

Last week, I told you about that sizable batch of 1960s comics I’d acquired. In said batch were a few Gold Key Lone Rangers and one really beat up early 1950s Dell Lone Ranger. As I was pricing these, I noticed something in the price guide that I don’t think I’d ever noticed before, given the relative scarcity of Dell Lone Rangers that have passed my way.

For issue #37 of the Dell run (alas, not the one I got in this collection), there was a note stating that not only was this the last issue to contain the newspaper reprints that comprised the previous issues, but this was also the issue where the Lone Ranger gets some newly-colored togs. Instead of the red shirt in which he was normally clad, he was to have a blue shirt in its stead. “New outfit” reads the Overstreet entry, and that very outfit can be seen in all its glory in the wondefully painted cover for that issue:


But wait! According to the guide, a few copies got printed with the red outfit, both on the cover and inside, as apparently somewhere along the line word didn’t get to the right people that Mr. Ranger was to have a fashion change.

The cover for that version (liberated, as was the previous image, from the invaluable Grand Comics Database) looks a little something like this:


Now, I have no idea how many were printed (Overstreet calls it “rare”) or if they were just mixed in with the regular stock and distributed to newsstands, or just kept in the office and maybe handed out to employees.

The GCD’s specific entry for the red shirt variant has this to say:

“The SCOOP website reports ‘Noted collector Harry Thomas of Sweetwater, TN, however, has pointed out that there are still a precious few issues of The Lone Ranger #37 that may’ve gotten printed in the transition still feature him in a red shirt.'”

…which makes it sound like nobody’s quite sure if red-shirt variants made it out into the wild by whatever method.

I can’t seem to find any for sale, and I can’t log into the CGC “Census” portal to see if anyone’s put one into one of those plastic slabs. (If any of you have a membership there and can check, I’d appreciate it and update this post accordingly.) Any other sites with pictures of the red shirt cover appear to be using the same pic as the GCD entry (which (cough) me too).

It’s got me wondering if this version of the comic actually exists in the wild. Like, the story about the misprinting got out there, but somehow not the comics themselves. Now, the Overstreet Price Guide does have price listings for it, which theoretically should come from retailer sales reports of an actual item. And GCD does have that pic, which I suppose someone could’ve have Photoshopped from the original to make an approximation of the variant, to which I almost asked “but why would they?” until I remembered “why does anyone do anything on the Internet?” Anyway, that red shirt cover does have an overall…reddish/pinkish tinge, which makes me wonder.

But I don’t think that’s what happened. It could just be genuinely rare…it’s out there, somewhere, hiding in someone’s cardboard box out in the garage. And someone snapped our one and only oddly-colored picture of it and that’s all we got.

If you have more info on this variant, either by finding it for sale on some website I missed, or actually getting into the CGC database, please don’t be shy! Let me know and as I said, I’ll pass that info onto you!

5 Responses to “Return with us now to those thrilling variants of yesteryear.”

  • Thelonious_Nick says:

    New website idea: Does this comic have a variant?

  • Tenzil Kem, Esq. says:

    I don’t see a listing on the CGC Census for the red shirt variant. There are only 7 copies total on the census, with grades ranging from 9.2 to 0.5.

  • Matthew Murray says:

    The Dell logos, date, the Lone Ranger’s hand holding the gun, and part of the background on the left are different in the two covers. Strange.

  • Purely speculating, but it looks to me like someone in the production pipeline didn’t get the memo about the shirt being blue now, thought it was a mistake, and tried to “fix” it by monkeying with the red and blue plates. And when the proof copies arrived at Dell for approval, they went “WTF?” and told them to change it back.

  • Thelonious_Nick says:

    “I don’t see a listing on the CGC Census for the red shirt variant. There are only 7 copies total on the census, with grades ranging from 9.2 to 0.5.”

    Wouldn’t a 0.5 copy normally be coverless, and thus impossible to tell it was the variant? Maybe the cover’s just torn in half or something.

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