Mara suggests Loney go off the clock by admitting his job is done.


Medium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: Self-syndicated
First Appeared: 1954
Creator: Warren Tufts
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Casey Ruggles, the first newspaper comic created by cartoonist Warren Tufts, succeeded, but his deal with distributor United Feature Syndicate (Li'l Abner, Gordo) went sour after …

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… a few years, so he ended his association with them and started his other major newspaper comic, Lance, which also met with a great deal of critical success. Between them was a minor effort that many of the critics never even heard of — The Lone Spaceman.

The contract with United Feature granted them rights of first refusal on his next comic. That is, he had to give them a chance to buy his next creation before showing it to anybody else. So he quickly came up with a sci-fi spoof designed to be rejected, thus fulfilling the requirements of the contract and leaving Tufts free to peddle his next real work elsewhere.

The syndicate did as expected, and the terms of the contract were met. But as is often the case when a creator produces a work just as a contract breaker, he began to have second thoughts about his sci-fi spoof. Maybe it was worth doing after all. Trouble is, other syndicates agreed with United. The fact that The Lone Spaceman was designed from the start to run only six months made it unattractive to a business looking for something it could promote into the indefinite future. Tufts wound up syndicating it himself.

The Lone Spaceman was an obvious parody of The Lone Ranger, who had started on radio a couple of decades earlier and had since proliferated into TV, movies and comics. He even wore a mask. In lieu of Tonto, he had secret agent Mara Hati. He didn't have the equivalent of silver bullets, but was known by his slogan (which appeared on his business card and in all his ads) "Have rocket, will travel."

The comic made scarcely a blip on the syndicated comic radar screen. But it filled the time and kept the bills from getting too far out of control while Tufts developed Lance.— DDM

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Text ©2009-10 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Warren Tufts estate.