Thursday, July 7, 2011
DEBUT OF BUCK RYAN (1937)
Above scan is of the first strip, dating from March 22nd, 1937, of 'Buck Ryan', a long-running British private detective serial, as reprinted in Buck Ryan volume 1: A Lady Vanishes by Newspaper Daily Comic Strip Library.
Buck Ryan was originally ran in Daily Mail, the British newspaper which pioneered British newspaper strips. Launched in 1903 by Alfred Harmsworth, the British media mogul who was also responsible for the boom of British comics magazines, Daily Mail had been running strips since 1904 including 'Mrs Hippo's Kindergarten', a historically important strip as Tiger Tim, soon to be a major British juvenile comics hero, made his first appearance there. However, the full-fledged proliferation of British strips in DM would occur in the 1930s and 'Buck Ryan' was created in that period. Writer Don Freeman and artist Jack Monk had initially created an Edgar Wallace adaptation strip, but reportedly had to to drop that one due to copyrights issues and created 'Buck Ryan' as a replacement. 'Buck Ryan' would be successful enough to run until 1962.
The first 'Buck Ryan' continuity, titled as 'A Lady Vanishes' in the reprint volume cover, has mediocre art and acceptable but undistiguished narrative about a kidnapping scheme. Visually the most interesting sequence is in the below strips:
However, the great visual potentials of an opium den setting is simply unexploited and wasted:
The same setting, on the other hand, is utilized for the utterance of some racially degrading jargon:
A noteworthy aspect of 'A Lady Vanishes' is the presence of remarkably brutal instances of violence against women, far more shocking than found in American mainstream strips of the same era as far as I am aware, one of which is in the below strip:
There are a few instances of pretty decent action sequences as well, such as the below strip:
There is also a relatively high body count:
I've also purchased vol. 9 of NDCSL's Buck Ryan reprint series and can attest that the strip had improved in terms of both art and story in two years from its inception. At some point in the future, I hope to post about that extremely interesting war-time (and war-related) continuity titled 'The Mystery of the Silent Bomber' as well. Artist Jack Monk would stay on board 'Buck Ryan' till the very end, but writer Don Freeman would eventually be replaced by others. It should be pointed out that this British comics writer (1903-72) should not be confused with an American children's books author and illustrator with the same name. The British Freeman would also contribute scripts to other leading Daily Mail strips such as 'Jane' and 'Garth'.
Newspaper Daily Comic Strip Library's reprint series appear to be computer printouts, but are quite acceptable in quality and the producers must be congragulated for the effort they put into compiling them. As I'd noted in an earlier post, these are the only available English-language reprints of Buck Ryan.