Four Color Comics (1939-1962) was a long-running series of comic books produced by Dell Comics. More than 1,000 issues were published, usually with multiple titles released every month.
Around 1955, Our Gang creator Hal Roach announced plans to produce a new Little Rascals series. Dell immediately cashed in on this proposed series with a Little Rascals issue for the Four Color series. While Roach's planned series never came about, Dell's Rascals' comics were popular enough to stay in publication until 1962, with a total of twelve issues.
The remaining characters were made specifically for the comic book series, but many seemed to have been based on characters from the original film series (for instance, the gang's teacher, "Miss Pretty," was likely inspired by either Miss Crabtree or Miss Lawrence).
This wasn't the first time Dell produced a comic book series based on the Rascals. From 1942 to 1949, the company produced Walt Kelly's Our Gang Comics series. Unlike Kelly's series, which was often adventure-based, the Four Color series took on a more cartoon-like approach. Interestingly, some of the stories in the Four Color series were reworkings of Our Gang shorts.
The Little Rascals
Spanky - Spanky is still the leader of the Gang in the comic series. But unlike his film counterpart, the Spanky in this series seems to be more of a worrier, often finding himself in trouble. However, Spanky still showed clever leadership abilities.
Alfalfa - Alfalfa seems to have taken on more of a leadership role in this series, sometimes even switching roles with Spanky. Alfalfa seems to be more of an idea man, often coming up with schemes that get the gang in trouble. Unlike his off-key singing film counterpart, the comic book's Alfalfa poorly plays the violin. This likely had to do with difficulty in capturing Alfalfa's original singing in comic book form.
Buckwheat - In at least one early issues, Buckwheat is referred to as "Farina" (while Farina remained nameless). Buckwheat is the smallest of the group, but always tags along, gladly taking part in the gang's adventures.
Farina - In at least one early issues, Farina was a nameless character, while Buckwheat was referred to as "Farina"). Like Buckwheat, Farina mostly tags along with the gang, always taking part in the adventures.
Fatso - A character that seems to have been based on Chubby Chaney, Fatso is a jolly, heavy-set kid with a big appetite.
Unnamed girl - The front cover of the first features an unnamed little girl, who was likely meant to be a regular character in the series. It's possible that she was intended to be Darla Hood (though the caricature bears a resemblance to Dorothy DeBorba.
Billy Goat - The gang's pet goat. He pulled the gang's handmade wagon around town.
Pete - Pete only appeared in the first issue of the series. He mostly tagged along with the kids.
Toughie McGurk and the Pirates - A group of neighborhood bullies, and the Rascals' arch rivals. McGurk, who was likely based on Butch, is a redheaded boy with an extremely tall derby hat. It's possible that the character was also based on "Toonerville Trolley"'s Mickey (himself) McGuire character. Interestingly, in one comic, Spanky refers to Toughie as "Toughie McGuire himself".
Waldo Worthington - A rich kid, and a good friend of the Rascals. Despite the fact that the character's name is "Waldo," he seems to be based on Wally Albright, rather than Darwood Kaye's Waldo character. Waldo will often leave his life as a spoiled rich kid to play with the Rascals. He also frequently invites his friends to wealthy engagements, much to the dismay of his mother and her employees.
Mrs. Worthington - Waldo's mother, who doesn't like her son to play with the Rascals.
Miss Pretty - The Rascals' attractive, blonde, kind-hearted teacher. She seems to have been based on Miss Lawrence.
Mr. Grumble - Or "Old Vinegar Face," as Spanky calls him. A grouchy, greedy man who often gets his just desserts from the Rascals. Grumble was initially the head of the school board, but later became the Rascals' school principal. He also briefly substituted for Miss Pretty. The character is reminiscent of actor Clarence Wilson, who portrayed several grouchy characters in the Our Gang film series, including Mr. Wilson, Mr. Crutch, and Mr. Pratt.
Aunt Matilda - Alfalfa's aunt who often pushes her nephew into taking interest in art and culture. Aunt Matilda is often grouchy, especially whenever she finds Alfalfa hanging around his friends. However, she acts relatively calm whenever Alfalfa (supposedly) takes interest in her preferred activities. Matilda was initially depicted as a skinny character, but was quickly redrawn as a heavy-set character.
Alfalfa's mother - Usually seen in stories involving Aunt Matilda. In some early stories, she seems to behave similarly (though more sanely) to Aunt Matilda, scolding Alfalfa for hanging out with the Rascals. However, she seemingly became even more of a sane character, mainly playing straight-man to Aunt Matilda. Like Aunt Matilda, she was often gladdened to see her son (supposedly) take interest in artistic activities.
Spanky's sister - Spanky's unnamed younger sister, whom he often got stuck babysitting.
Spanky's parents - Made a few brief appearances in the series. Spanky's mom would often leave Spanky to babysit his younger sister.
674 January 1956
Lemonade Stand - Spanky and Fatso sell lemonade to Alfalfa. (One page).
Living in Style - Waldo invites the gang to use his mansion for a clubhouse while he and his mother are taking a trip to Bermuda. (Eight pages; first appearance of Waldo and Mrs. Worthington).
Baby Makes the Team - Spanky is supposed to play in a big baseball game, but his mother tells him to babysit his sister instead. (Eight Pages; first appearance of Toughie McGurk, the Pirates, and Spanky's mother and sister).
The Little Peddlers - The Rascals go into the junk business to earn money for football uniforms. (Fourteen pages; first appearance of Aunt Matilda).
Old McDonald's Farm - Miss Pretty takes her class to the country for a picnic. The picnic spot turns out to be an old farm that a real estate agent is trying to sell to school board president Mr. Grumble. (Six pages; first appearance of Miss Pretty and Mr. Grumble).
Completely Full - Fatso fills his plate and his pockets at a party for the kids given by Miss Pretty. (One page).
778 February 1957
Helping a Headache - Alfalfa gives Fatso an ice-bag to put on his head to help his headache. (One page).
Hard Luck Hero - After Spanky accidentally flattens Toughie McGurk, the Rascals decide to raise funds by matching Spanky and McGurk in a boxing match. A slight reworking of Glove Taps. (Ten pages).
Rumpus at the Ritz - Waldo takes the Rascals to a fancy French restaurant. The kids try to help a waiter sell his restaurant. (Eight pages).
Kids Ko-Operage - With Miss Pretty having to leave to take care of a sick sister, Mr. Grumble is left in charge of her class. The Rascals are sure to give Old Vinegar Face a hard time. (Six pages).
Mutiny at the Museum - Alfalfa plans on going swimming with the gang. But his Aunt Matilda wants him to go to the museum with her. Alfalfa has a scheme to lose Aunt Matilda in the museum, and go swimming. Alfalfa and the kids make a mess of things at the museum, including using a display fountain as a swimming pool. (Eight pages).
The Unsafe Safe - Buckwheat finds a safe, but it has a broken door. (One page).
Helping with a Package - Spanky offers to take Mr. Grumble's large package to his house--for a fee. (One page).
825 August 1957
Swimming on Grumble's Property - The Rascals are swimming in a pond owned by grumpy Mr. Grumble. (One page).
Getting Billy's Goat - The Rascals are supposed to play Toughie McGurk's Pirates in the championship baseball game, but Spanky loses the team's uniforms. (Ten pages).
For the Birds - Alfalfa's Aunt Matilda sponsors a bird-watching contest for the Rascals. (Seven pages).
Seaside Scramble - Mr. Grumble goes to the beach to relax, but the Rascals have the same idea. (Seven pages).
Circus Capers - The Rascals put on a circus; but Toughie McGurk tries to sabotage the performance. (Eight pages).
The Moose Head - Alfalfa charges a nickel to Farina to see an old stuffed moose head. (One page).
883 March 1958
Stuffed Chicken - Spanky tries to barbecue a chicken, with unpleasant results. (One page).
The Big Race - The Rascals and Toughie McGurk's Pirates compete for raw materials to build racers for the town's Soap Box Derby. (Ten pages).
The Swampfrog Safari - The Rascals go to a swamp to catch frogs for a French restaurant; but the swamp belongs to the cantankerous Mr. Grumble, who decides to catch the frogs himself. (Eight pages).
A Brush With Genius - After attending an abstract art show, Alfalfa decides to become a painter. (Eight pages).
You Can't Win - Waldo invites the Rascals to his birthday party. Waldo's parents have hired a new butler and have told him not to let the Rascals in. (Six pages).
Strongest in the Neighborhood - Spanky lifts weights to be the toughest in the neighborhood, but he's still no match for Toughie McGurk. (One page).
The Duet - Spanky and Alfalfa have to stay after school and practice a piano and violin duet. (One page).
936 September 1958
Don't Fence Me Out - Mr. Grumble erects a steel fence to keep Billy the Goat out of his garden, but Billy eats a hole in the fence. (One page).
Bunions in the Crew - Aunt Matilda decides that Alfalfa needs to take ballet lessons. (Ten pages).
A Fishy Story - Spanky fakes an injury to get out of fighting Toughie McGurk. A remake of Fishy Tales. (Eight pages).
The Baby Sitters - When his mother is gone for the afternoon, Waldo lets the Rascals do their babysitting at his mansion. (Eight pages).
Ramblin' Wreckers - Mr. Grumble tries to trick the Rascals into tearing down a condemned house he owns. (Six pages).
The Backseat Driver - Alfalfa gives Aunt Matilda a ride in his goat-powered cart, but she spends the entire trip criticizing his driving. (One page).
Fatso and Cakes - At a party, Fatso stuffs himself. (One page).
974 March 1959
Welcome Mat - (One page).
The Model Boy - In an effort to earn money, the Rascals set up a booth with Alfalfa sticking his head through a hole and dodging softballs. Aunt Matilda wrecks their plans, as usual. (Eight pages).
Night Maneuvers - Fatso draws an unflattering picture of Mr. Grumble on the blackboard. Later, the Rascals try to get into the school to erase the picture. (Ten pages).
The Late Show - When Spanky has to babysit his little sister, the Rascals decide they should do some babysitting as a group. They line up six more small children to watch and end up taking them to a drive-in movie. (Eight pages).
Catching Trouble - Toughie McGurk and the Pirates make rich kid Waldo Worthington their treasurer so that he can buy them sodas--whether he wants to or not. (Six pages).
Violin Lesson - Alfalfa puts his baseball bat and glove in his violin case to fool Aunt Matilda. (One page).
Hat Catchers - The Rascals get tips for catching runaway hats on a windy day. (One page).
1030 September 1959
The Water Balloon - Toughie pops Spanky's balloons. (One page).
Spanky's Secret Hideout - The Little Rascals search for a new secret hideout. (Ten pages).
The Haunted House - The Little Rascals visit a haunted house. (Eight pages).
Alfalfa's Marbles - Alfalfa and Aunt Matilda visit a museum. (Eight pages).
The Social Climber - The Little Rascals visit Waldo Worthington's home. (Six pages).
The Violin Lesson - Practicing the violin is dangerous. (One page).
The Candy Pole - The Little Rascals' goat mistakes a barber pole for a candy cane. (One page).
1079 February-April 1960
The License - A policemen stops the Rascals goat-powered cart because it doesn't have license plates. (One page).
The New Teacher - Miss Pretty, the Rascals' school teacher, is fired because a science experiment flooded the classroom. Her replacement, Mr. Strict, turns out to be behind the botched experiment which he designed to get Miss Pretty fired. Spanky sabotages Strict's experiments so he will be fired and Miss Pretty will return. (Ten pages).
The Devil to Pay - Alfalfa is having to pay "toll" to Toughie McGurk and his gang to cross the street. Alfalfa's Aunt Matilda plucks him from the ensuing scuffle (thinking he had started it) and tells him that he has to play an angel in her Women's Club play. The day of the play, Toughie and his gang waylay the child who's supposed to play the Devil in the play and Toughie dresses in his costume. Alfalfa is strapped in a flying harness for his role in the play, but Toughie mans the controls and gives him a wild ride. Note: Not counting the one page cover comics, this is one of the few stories in which not all of the main characters appear (only Alfalfa is featured). (Eight pages).
The Dog Catcher - Spanky "borrows" the dog license of Waldo's Great Dane for his dog Scrappy to try to trick the dog catcher; but the dog catcher takes Waldo's dog to the pound instead. The gang tries a variety of methods to get the dog free from the pound. (Eight pages).
The Snow Fight - Spanky's kid sister proves to be the Rascals' secret weapon in their snowball fight with Toughie McGurk and his Pirates. (Six pages).
The Performer - Alfalfa's violin teacher, Prof. Harmony, takes him to play at his rival Prof. Chord's school, using Alfalfa's poor playing as bad publicity for Prof. Chord. (One page).
The Performer - Outfielder Buckwheat accidentally catches a fly ball with his cap. (One page).
1137 August-October 1960
The Billy Goat Show - Spanky and Buckwheat charge the kids to watch Billy eat junk. (One page).
The Reward - The Rascals and Toughie McGurk's Pirates look for a gold watch on the McDonald farm in order to get a $10 reward. (Ten pages).
The Truants - Mr. Grumble fires Mr. Hooker as truant officer because the school district has no truants. The Rascals decided to play hooky the next day so Mr. Hooker will get his job back. (Eight pages).
The Statue Maker - Aunt Matilda decides that Alfalfa is going to be a great sculptor and takes him to a sculptor's studio for lessons. (Eight pages).
The Pet - Spanky trades Billy the goat for Waldo the rich kid's rabbit. Billy proceeds to cause havoc in the Worthington household. (Six pages).
The Diet - Farina puts Fatso on a diet, but not for long. (One page).
You're Out - Toughie hits a baseball that unravels in midair. Alfalfa catches the ball and rewinds it and tags out Toughie. (One page).
1174 March-May 1961
The Movies - In order to avoid Toughie McGurk and his gang, the Rascals pretend to be leaving a movie theater instead of going in. (One page).
Trouble on the High Seas - The Rascals take refuge from Toughie McGurk's gang by hiding on a old houseboat that breaks free and takes them on a trip. (Ten pages).
The Train Trip - Spanky has a ticket for a train trip to take his kid sister to visit his aunt. He figures a way to smuggle the rest of the gang onto the train. Spanky's sister then takes the gang on a wild ride when she wanders into the engineer's cab. (Eight pages).
The Hermit's Cave - Waldo sneaks out to go to the Hermit's Cave with the Rascals. (Eight pages).
Grumble's Nightmare - Mr. Grumble is sleep-walking and blames the results on the Rascals. (Six pages).
The Bank Deposit - Waldo takes the Rascals to the bank to play handball in the vault. (One page).
1224 October-December 1961
Music Lesson - When their violin teacher leaves the room, Alfalfa and a fellow student do everything but practice the violin. (one page).
Trouble on the Trail - Waldo Worthington's mother sends him camping with his butler Javis along to do everything for him. The Rascals tag along and help Waldo have some real fun. (Ten pages).
Lighter Than Air - Mr. Grumble and the Rascals go on an unscheduled trip in a hot air balloon. (Five pages).
The Hidden Place - Spanky and the gang take Spanky's sister along to the ice cream parlor. On the way back, a helium balloon helps the gang hide their ice cream from Toughie and his gang of Pirates. (Two pages).
Haunting the House - Spanky and the gang investigate a haunted house that is on Spanky's newspaper route. (Eight pages).
Keeping in Tune - Alfalfa gets out of practicing his violin by leaving a record of traffic noises playing. (One page).
Hidden Treasure - Alfalfa finds directions to a treasure in an old diary. The Rascals and Toughie McGurk's Pirates gang both end up in the same cave looking for the treasure. (Six pags).
A Safe Place - To protect their ice cream cones from Toughie McGurk's gang; the Rascals hide them in the headband of a wooden cigar store Indian. (One page).
The Warning Sign - After Billy butts Mr. Grumble, Spanky has to make a "Beware of Goat" sign, but Billy makes lunch of the sign instead. (One page).
1297 March-May 1962
Polishing Off the Pirates/Prize Crew - Preview of two stories in the issue. (One page).
The Friendly Fox - Aunt Matilda recruits Spanky to be the bugler at a fox hunt, but the Rascals turn the odds in favor of the fox. (Eight pages).
Prize Crew - Waldo Worthington invites the Rascals aboard his yacht, but his mother has them tossed off. The yacht mysteriously disappears, but the Rascals find it and overcome the three crooks who had hijacked it. (Eight pages).
Fowl Play - The Rascals try to find out who is stealing chickens from Uncle Harvey's farm. (Eight pages).
Polishing Off the Pirates - The Rascals open a shoeshine stand near a construction zone in order to raise money to rebuilt their clubhouse. However, Toughie McGurk and his gang see the possibilities in the location and try to run the Rascals off. (Eight pages).
Waterproof - Aunt Matilda won't let Alfalfa play in a puddle unless he puts on a raincoat and boots. (One page).
Revenge - After Toughie breaks a little kid's balloon, Fatso comes up with a way to get revenge. (One page).