Daily Greats: Rip Kirby
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.