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.

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