As the protagonist of the widely-read mystery novels by Earl Derr Biggers, Inspector Charlie Chan reached even greater heights in a series of popular B movies. As actor Sidney Toler was preparing to replace Warner Oland as the wily police detective in 1938, Alfred Andriola was tapped to create a newspaper strip version of the character. Andriola was Milton Caniff’s secretary and Chan would be his first cartooning effort. With a little help from some friends in Caniff’s orbit, Andriola succeeded in producing what The World Encyclopedia of Comics says is “among the best comic strips in the ‘Caniff school.’”
Chan is the pride of the Honolulu Police Department and uses his intellect more than his fists to solve cases of international intrigue. In fact, the syndicate’s initial promotion called Charlie Chan “A new mystery strip, totally devoid of guns and gangsters” to separate it from Dick Tracy and his many hard-boiled imitators. Not that the strip is devoid of action and romance—Chan soon enough gets a tall, handsome assistant, Kirk Barrow, who has no problems shouldering] those “difficult” burdens with aplomb.
Featuring the first complete year of daily strips, from October 1938 to November 1939, this volume of LOAC Essentials offers readers exciting adventures, snappy dialogue, and arresting art, making it a fascinating complement to Caniff’s own efforts on Terry and the Pirates during this period.