Overland Coach was the only western series to debut in the period 1948 – 1951: End of an Era, that has a woman as its central character. That’s probably why the strip was named for the stagecoach line, as opposed to being named for the character. There would not be another western series featuring a woman until the early 1970s.
Overland Coach was the first of three new series to debut in All-American Western 103. Created by Irwin Hasen and Frank Giacoia, it has as its main character, Tony Barrett (short for Antoinette).
The town is none too pleased to have a female running their stagecoach, but she proves herself in this tale. I found this surprisingly progressive for the era, as she is shown to be fully capable of handling herself. Few women were portrayed this way in western comics of the time.
She has a brother, Billy, who is in prison, framed for murder. She hunts down the real killer, and though she does get captured by him, she manages to free herself and bring the bad guy to justice.
As the story ends, the sheriff even offers to appoint her his deputy, but she is content to run the stagecoach line, as she came out to do. There were no significant developments in the strip, but some fun stories along the way.
In All-American Western 104 Tony Barrett come to the aid of a young boy. The boy’s parents were murdered by a man who wanted their property, and who is now taking advantage of the child’s lack of paperwork to move on the land.
With no real help from any man, Tony finds and captures the killer, ensuring that the boy gets to keep his property. There is some really nice art on this tale.
Gil Kane and Frank Giacoia are the artists on a fun Overland Coach romp in issue 107. Tony Barrett picks up an actor and brings him to town. He is enchanted with her, and eventually wears down her reluctance, convincing her to play Ophelia opposite his Hamlet for the town.
The Weevil Gang interrupt the performance, stealing her golden crown. She sheds the ball gown and gets back into her work clothes to track down and capture the gang. Of course, the crown is a fake, a stage prop, so the gang had really stolen nothing of value.
Tony Barrett faces some competition as the train comes to Tumbleweed in the Overland Coach story in All-American Western 113. The train is, of course, in direct competition with her stagecoach, and even challenges her to a race. Bandits decide to holdup the train, and even steal the engine.
Tony sees her rival tied up by the tracks and saves him. Together they stop the train bandits. While in reality Tony would be put out of business pretty fast, here they live in a world of peace and mutual cooperation.
Overland Coach continues in the next period, 1952 – 1955: We Don’t Need Another Hero.