Archive | Rip Kirby

It All “Ad”s Up

We sometimes have more artwork and photos than we can squeeze into the text features of our books. We’re just putting a wrap on Steve Canyon Volume 7, for example, and we have such an abundance of 1959-60 riches related to Milton Caniff and his creation that we’ll likely do a feature in this space showcasing some of the artifacts that didn’t make the cut as the book gets closer to its on-sale date.

Sifting through the files I’ve amassed related to a couple other recent books, I saw some newspaper promotional ads that we didn’t use. Here’s a “Kigmy”-related ad supporting Li’l Abner, circa 1949:

2_Abner Kigmy Ad_1949

And from that same year, an ad that does double duty, both as a promotion for Abner and as a contest pushing Proctor & Gamble products:

1_Abner Shmoo Naming_1949

I’m also partial to this 1933 ad for Tim Tyler’s Luck that we found while preparing our jumbo-sized LOAC Essentials/King Features Essentials Volume 2 devoted to Alex Raymond’s brief-but-memorable stint on that series.

3_TIM TYLER'S LUCK Ad_1933

Seeing those items, and given my own soft spot for this type of material, I thought I’d sift through a batch of newspapers and see what other comic strip promotional ads I could find. The earliest one I located was from the year of the stock market crash, 1929, and is hyping Percy Crosby’s delightful and influential kids strip, Skippy:

4_SKIPPY Ad_1929

Fans of Gasoline Alley (myself included) may get a kick out of this 1930 advertisement, suggesting readers send in their summertime addresses and get the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette delivered while on vacation in order to stay current with events in the Wallet household:

5_GASOLINE ALLEY Ad_1930

And I was delighted to find this 1934 ad from the Asheville, North Carolina Citizen as the paper prepared to bring Little Orphan Annie into its lineup of daily comics. The ad symbolically reminds readers how “Daddy” Warbucks’s red-haired charge typically ends up in hot water :

6_LOA_1934

Not every ad was as elaborate as the Annie, of course. In 1940, when this ad promoting the Golden Age Superman was appearing in client newspapers across America, The Man of Tomorrow was scarcely two years old. How many readers in 1940 could have imagined the strange visitor from planet Krypton would still be entertaining millions, more than seventy-five years after this modest advertisement saw print?

7_SUPERMAN Ad_1940

The sophistication and graceful action shown in this 1952 ad for Rip Kirby strikes me as resonating very closely with what Alex Raymond was presenting on the comics page as he chronicled the adventures of the ’50’s first modern detective:

8_RIP KIRBY Ad_1952

One of the strips I always enjoyed as a youngster was Andy Capp. I liked the “Englishness” of his world, its rough-and-tumble nature, and I’m heartened that Andy has successfully continued his visits to the local more than a decade after his creator’s death (Reg Smythe passed away in 1998). The copy in this 1967 ad from the Pittsburgh Press certainly reflects the tenor of those “Swingin’ Sixties” times, doesn’t it?

9_ANDY CAPP Ad_1967

Finally, here’s a March, 1971 ad for Doonesbury, only five months into its existence. It serves as a reminder of how the art style, themes, and characters in this sprawling, sometimes controversial, sometimes powerful, always-worth-reading strip have changed!

10_DOONESBURY Ad_1971

Keep watching this space, because we’ll be back soon with, as the Monty Python troupe used to say, “something completely different” …

Prentice and Williamson in Mexico

When Rip Kirby artist John Prentice and his wife decided to move to Mexico in the early 1960s, Prentice’s assitant, Al(den) McWilliams, who was also drawing the Twin Earths strip, decided to stay in the U.S.. Enter another great artist, one with a similar name: Al Williamson, who signed on with Prentice. The two men and their wives headed for Mexico City, where they remained for about a year and a half.

Cori Williamson, Al’s widow, kindly shared some of Al’s “roughs” from 1961 for Rip Kirby Volume Six, which is in stores next week. Below are two examples of Williamson’s original work on vellum and Prentice’s finished inks.

RK611205_600

RK611127_600

The Town That Time Forgot

One of the eight stories in Rip Kirby Volume 6 is “The Town That Time Forgot,” in which Rip and Desmond discover a town that has stood still since 1899. Its inhabitants have been immune to the vicissitudes of “modern” (in 1961 when this story was published) life. We’re currently working on the book, prepping the art for the printer. The logic of the plot is nonsenseical but it’s great fun. In the late ’50s/early ’60s there was a big fad for anything having to do with Gay ’90s culture and Fred Dickenson and John Prentice’s readers undoubtedly ate up every iconic image of the period. In these dailies, Rip explains to the town members what they can expect in the outside world. To our eyes, in 2013, it’s equally interesting to see the 50-year-old 1960s fashions, as alien to our time as the 1890s “Gibson Girl” look was to the 1961 reader.

RK610803sm

RK610807sm

Rip6

 

Because you asked for it!

Even before the fourth volume of Rip Kirby (that completed Alex Raymond’s brilliant work) hit the bookstores, we started receiving letters from readers who hoped that we’d continue with the incredible art by John Prentice, who picked up the pen and ink duties after Raymond’s death and continued it for decades. Prentice received three Reuben Awards for the series, in 1966, 1967, and 1986.

It’s not often we can precede the announcement of a book with “Because you asked for it!!!” (with the obligatory triple exclamation points, of course!!!), but in this case, we can. Our Rip Kirby series will keep going next summer with Volume Five. Fred Dickenson, who had been writing the strip with Raymond, keeps the continuity going for Prentice’s exquisite art. I’ve created a new cover design for the Prentice years since the four Raymond covers were meant to be a finite set. For those who haven’t seen much of Prentice’s art, the cover and the photo below it, speak for themselves.

Rip5_cvr-1

Access to these original King Features Syndicate proofs insure that every daily will look even better than when they were first published in newspapers worldwide. Volume Five contains more than three years of strips, every one from October 22, 1956 to December 5, 1959, and sees the return of Rip’s arch enemy, the Mangler.

Prentice

R.I.P., Rip

We’re both thrilled and saddened that Rip Kirby Volume 4 will be on sale soon. Thrilled because…well, who isn’t thrilled to see more than two-and-a-half years of Alex Raymond art! Saddened because it’s the final volume collecting Raymond’s post-war modernist classic. In the course of producing the series, we borrowed photos from the daughter of Ray Burns, Raymond’s assistant. We didn’t have room for them all in the printed series so offer a couple here as an online bonus—two staged publicity shots of Raymond and Burns listening to the baseball game on the radio.

Raymond_Burns_baseball

Raymond_Burns_baseball2

Raymond’s tragic death in 1956 left his final story unfinished. It was completed by John Prentice, who continued the strip for decades to come. Here’s a sample of Prentice’s work from October 1956.

Prentice_561016

And because we’re especially proud of our sequential cover designs, here they are—all four together, starting with the titular character all by his lonesome—then joined by one new character per cover.

RipKirby1_lg

RipKirby2_lg

Rip3_large-1

RipKirby4_large

 

 

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (or Brunettes)

Forget the decades-old question, “Ginger or Mary Ann?” – our reprinting of Alex Raymond’s Rip Kirby has spurred a new matter submitted for consideration. To put it simply:

“Pagan or Honey?”

This deeply philosophical discussion was energized by a reader named Jim Davis, who resides in Maryland Heights, Missouri. He posted was a review of Rip Volume 2 at Amazon.com in which he said, “Pagan Lee has it all over girl next door Honey Dorian, who continues to be a weak point of the strip, in my opinion.”  Jim went on to say he sees Honey as primarily filling the role of deus ex machina, on hand simply to help launch new cases for Rip Kirby to solve.

Jim’s review was thoughtful, balanced, honest, and direct, all qualities I admire. Yet when it comes to the “Honey or Pagan?” question, he and I are on opposite sides of the fence.

Yes, I’ll admit it: I’m a Honey Dorian fan. That said, I’ll confess I wish Raymond and Rip‘s co-writer, Ward Greene, had continued to characterize Honey as she was depicted in the first two storylines (which we reprinted in Volume One under the titles “The Chip Faraday Murder” and “The Hicks Formula”). In those stories Honey is especially spritely and sassy, bringing a unique sparkly to Rip’s somewhat straight-arrow lifestyle. But even as the strip matures and Honey becomes more serious and far less fun-loving, I find myself siding with her over Pagan. Maybe that’s because I’m really big on loyalty and no matter the occasional spats and separations, there’s never really a doubt that Honey is devoted to Rip.

Pagan, by contrast, has already changed allegiances once, throwing over The Mangler for a chance at life on the straight and narrow. Though redemption after sin is nothing to be sneezed at, the vibe I get from Pagan says, “It’s only a matter of time before I cross the line once again and end up either in jail or on the run . . . ”

How fortunate that Raymond and Greene gave us both characters, since they so nicely counter-point one another and they present Rip with the possibility of a conflict of the heart. Conflict is hell on our heroes, but fun for us readers!

“Pagan or Honey?” It’s a matter of preference, of course, with no right or wrong answer. So I send a friendly wave to Jim Davis and all the other Pagan Lee fans out there — I’ll be easy to spot when you return the wave, because I’m in the forefront of the Honey Dorian camp.

Rip3_large

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes