Daily Greats: Rip Kirby

Reading & Writing

I always assumed he was English, but the name should have been a giveaway. Rip was the perfect post-war sophisticate, a sort of two-fisted Clark Kent usually found with a pipe clenched between his teeth, sometimes sporting a cravat. He’s associated with Alex Raymond, but there were other authors.

To quote the excellent Toonopedia, ‘Remington “Rip” Kirby’s strip debuted on March 4, 1946. World War II was over, and America’s military men were re-integrating themselves into civilian life. Rip, an ex-marine, set himself up as a private detective — a calling sure to provide all the hair-raising adventures needed to keep readers coming back.

And they did come back — circulation rose steadily during the strip’s first few years — even though Rip wasn’t the kind of private detective they were used to from pulp fiction. This one did more cogitating than fisticuffing, and smoked a leisurely pipe while he did it. He had a frail, balding assistant, Desmond (a former burglar), instead of a smartarse sidekick. And instead of carrying on with an endless series of female clients, he had a steady girlfriend, Honey Dorian. If that wasn’t enough, he even wore glasses!’

Kirby provides the link between the forties gumshoe and the sixties Bond – and we all know how your dad felt about Bond.

2 comments on “Daily Greats: Rip Kirby”

  1. paul hasbrouck says:

    Thanks Chris-this post brings back memories of my childhood. When growing up in The New York area, in the late 50’s, I remember that the newspapers contain pages of comics. My favorites were Little Orphan Annie, Terry and the Pirates, Dick Tracy and Prince Valiant(my first introduction to King Arthur)and Mandrake The Magician. All examples of the Adventure Strip, now mostly gone from popular culture.

  2. Helen Martin says:

    Terry and the Pirates was on radio, too. I understand that a certain CBC announcer used to put all sorts of insulting remarks about his superiors into the opening which was a soundscape of a busy Chinese street.

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