First and Last – Warren Tufts’ Lance

Return with us to those thrilling days of yesteryear…specifically the 1950s.

The Western was King in the 1950s – books, movies, magazines, TV, store shelves, and comics.

The Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers, Hopalong Cassidy, Red Ryder, The Cisco Kid, and Gene Autry were all on TV and all had comic strips. And there were dozens more western comic strips not quite so familiar to the general public.

Warren Tufts had made his name with Casey Ruggles, a gritty, adult western comic strip set in the California Gold Rush era. Wanting to own his work he left that strip and in a couple years was self-syndicating his new strip.

On June 5, 1955 Warren Tufts’ Lance debuted (above).

Keeping the action in pre-Civil War 1840s, Lance continued the adult stories of Casey Ruggles. As can be seen the illustrative work of Hal Foster influenced the style and layout of the strip. Lance was one of the last (the last?) strips to premiere as a full page.

A daily strip was syndicated for about a year from 1957 – 1958.

above: the first two daily strips
below: the last two daily strips

For the 13 months of the daily strip the stories were synchronized with the Sundays.

Warren claimed that the art and scripts had him putting in almost 100 hours a week on the strip, no wonder the dailies didn’t last.

And of course the full page couldn’t last. Pressure from newspapers eventually had him producing the strip as a full tabloid page that was able to be reconfigured into half- and third-page formats.

The last strip (below) ran on May 29, 1960.

As seen, Tufts bowed to pressure and the caption-only feature was soon carrying word balloons, but the illustrative art remained top-notch throughout.

As a treat this is a “first, last, and everything in between” post.

Lance, “the famous comic strip from the 50s,” by Warren Tufts
can be read “completely restored” thanks to the efforts of Manuel Caldas.

For those like me, who prefer a more traditional format, Manuel and Classic Comics Press very soon (December 2018) will make the strip available as a hardcover book! You may want to check out their Casey Ruggles edition also.