Saturday, April 23, 2016

Another Molno-Trapani Dell effort--Rango (1967)

Recently, at his excellent Who Created the Comic Books? blog, Martin O'Hearn identified three Bill Molno/Sal Trapani stories at one of my all-time favorite series, Dell's Flying Saucers.  Martin's post put me on the lookout for more Dell Molno pencil jobs--and I found some.  My first find: Dell's one-shot comic book version of a show I vaguely remember--Tim Conway's Rango.  In fact, all I recall for sure is the show's name and the fact that Tim Conway was in it!  (Not the most vivid of childhood TV memories.)  Thanks to Lorne Greene's 1964 Top-40 hit, Ringo, I knew, at age 10, that "Rango" was a pun on the Old West Ringo, vice the Beatles' drummer.  Otherwise, I'd have been wondering....

How do I know it's Bill on the pencils?  Well, first off, I checked over the issue's four stories for any examples of Bill's signature left-to-right action panel.  No fewer than six showed up!

Then I searched for any familiar faces.  Here's Rango's long-suffering Captain:

And here's a villain from "Rapwell's Kid," in the Jan., 1959, #44 issue of Charlton's Tex Ritter Western (pencils: Molno/inks: Trapani).The man has barely changed in eight years, though he's either bought a new hat or dyed the old one:

And what about Rango's sarcastic sidekick, Pink Cloud?  Let's compare these two Rango panels.... these two Molno Charlton panels from "Young Eagle's Protege" (Young Eagle #4, January 1957; poss. inked by Dick Giordano):

Uncanny, no?  Or how about this left half of a Rango panel, showing a stagecoach speeding off in a cloud of dust...

...and this Molno-Trapani Charlton panel from "Holdup!"? (Kid Montana #30, Aug., 1961)....

And this might be Rango's oddest reuse of a Charlton image.  It's the title character, hurling (dropping?) a barrelful of explosive biscuits (don't ask) toward a group of bad guys as they advance:


And here's an earlier version of this image, from Charlton's Billy the Kid #27  ("The Stupid Dude," March, 1961, Bill Molno/Vince Alascia).

Finally, I can't help finding this Rango panel highly similar, in design and feel, to the Molno/Mastroserio Charlton image shown below it:

I am totally sure that Rango's pencils are Molno's.  This comic book is a fun and pleasant period piece, the stories effectively told, and with some especially creative panels in the third story, "The Last Stage Out of Here" (once we get past the mundane images leading up to the perilous stage journey).

Coming up: more Molno-Trapani at Dell!



  1. Another interesting find, Lee! Some panels look like someone other than Trapani was inking, and the face of the captain, to my eye, looks oddly similar to Mike Sekowsky's style.

    1. Thanks, Nick. I see what you mean about the inking--in particular, the exploding-biscuit panel (always wanted to type that), looks very un-Trapani. The lines are too loose--they have a Molno/Alascia quality. As much as I like the art in Rango, there are signs that they were rushing to deadline, so maybe a back-up inker was employed....

      I'm almost positive that Molno worked on the third "Super Heroes" issue at Dell, though Martin O'Hearn has i.d.'d that series' penciler as Bill Fraccio, so I may be wrong. I personally think the images are a little too stiff to be Fraccio's. I'm going to closely compare them to the DC Molno-Trapani "Fifth Titan" art.

      "The Coalman" art is what most convinces me--the title monster is almost a revamp of Molno's take on Konga!

  2. I have a copy of Rango, August Collector's issue with the pride of the Ranger, Bury me not in lonesome prairie,
    The last Stage out of here, and Cannonball cook. Is this worth anything in good condition?

  3. I don't know. You'll have to check a comic book buying guide.