Saturday, August 29, 2015

You Can't Get A Good Detective Down

Thursday Story Strip Day.

The Perry Mason strip should have been a succes. Erle Stanley Gardner's detective hero was the best selling book series at that time and new episodes were prepublished in magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post and Collier's, often lavishly illustrated. After their initital succes, they were even used as serialized material for newspapers, some of which were illustrated as well. But he newspaper strip never took of. Maybe it was because the art was never up to the level of those magazine illustrations or maybe they were feeling the competition of Rip Kirby, the number one newspaper strip detective at that time, illustrated in a beautiful magazine illustration worthy style. The lesser know Perry Mason newspaper strip didn't come into it's own until a young Frank Thorne started illustrating it in 1952, the third artist (at least) on the job. Smaples of this strip are hard to come by. there were very few newspapers running it, so even online I found sources only sporadicly. The color Sunday are even harder to get, possibly because so many years later the name and fame of it's hero does make it a sought after collectable. I did manage to get a set, but it was nowhere near complete, with single episodes from many different stories. I always had the feling that the rythm of the Sundays was odd, so when I ran across a daily version of the strip it didn't surprise me (although I never would have expected it). I am not sure if it is a candidate for reprinting, but I would like to read at least one of these stories in whole. I have not checked if the stories itself are adaptations or new (in which case they will not be by Gardner himself).


Smurfswacker said...

In 1989 Malibu put out a collection of 4 Mason stories from the Keefer/Lofgren period. I never saw the book and I'm not interested enough to buy one, but here is a listing in Abe Books if you're interested.

rnigma said...

The popular and long-running TV series starring Raymond Burr didn't begin until 1957. Perhaps the comic may have picked up in popularity if it had begun anew then, using the likenesses of the TV cast. (Dell published a short-lived comic book based on the TV show in the mid-60s.)
I read somewhere (perhaps in an interview with Mel Keefer, the first or second artist on the Mason strip) that the scripts were not by Gardner, but supplied by his publisher, William Morrow & Co.