By Alex Raymond (Pacific Comics Club)
Alex Raymond made Flash Gordon, Jungle Jim and Secret Agent X-9 global icons (and himself terribly wealthy) but when America joined the War so did he. On returning to civilian life, rather than return to safe pastures he yearned for new conquests.
With King Features Editor Ward Greene he created a different kind of private detective: a demobbed marine; intellectual, easy-going, artistically inclined but physically capable who preferred to exercise his mind rather than fists and guns.
His girlfriend “Honey” Dorian and manservant Desmond (a reformed burglar) completed his supporting cast and Remington “Rip” Kirby debuted on March 4th 1946, to huge approval and success. Greene wrote the scripts until his departure in 1952 when journalist Fred Dickenson assumed the scripting role. Raymond drew it until September 6th 1956, when, aged 46, he died in a car crash. John Prentice assumed the art duties until 1986 when with Dickenson left due to ill-health, from which time Prentice wrote the strip too. Rip Kirby finally retired on June 26th 1999 when Prentice did.
Beautiful art and brilliant strips are simply irresistible. After recently reviewing a couple of giant-sized Rip Kirby collections (re-read in advance of an upcoming compilation project promising to reproduce the entire saga) I simply couldn’t stop before reviewing the best of the bunch…
This complete softcover adventure follows immediately upon ‘Gunpowder Dreams’ and ‘Buried Treasure’: all of which were originally released in 1980 and still occasionally turn up in shops and on the internet. They are all huge 340x245mm softcover tabloids (that’s nearly 15 inches by 10) with shiny white pages presenting thrilling and enchanting sagas of one of America’s most famous fictional detectives, drawn by one of the most influential artists of all time.
This masterful blend of 1950s style and fashion highlights a society in the midst of affluent change as Rip is hired to find a missing singer who has captivated the new record buying public but disappeared before she could cut her first record album. However what starts as a simple trace job turns into a particularly nasty murder plot that simply can’t end well…
Here is another fabulously chic caper, stuffed full of tension and lots of tricky plot twists, with plenty of action, beautifully realised by an absolute master of brush and pen.
Your chances of tracking down this gem are admittedly rather meagre, but well worth the effort if you’re an art-lover, as Raymond’s drawing at this size is an unparalleled delight. Whatever size you find Rip Kirby inhabiting these are strips every fan must see.
© 1950, 1980 King Features. All Rights Reserved. Book © 1980 Pacific C.C.