Friday, April 16, 2010

Forgotten Book: Red Ryder (the strip) by Fred Harman


When you see the name Red Ryder, what comes to mind? A BB gun, right? Or maybe Don “Red” Barry or Allan “Rocky” Lane, two of the guys who played him in the movies. Or maybe Robert Blake when he was on trial for murder, with the media constantly reminding us he played Little Beaver in some of those movies. Or an old comic book. Or a Whitman hardcover. Or even a Big Little Book.

What comes to mind is almost anything but the real thing - the Fred Harman comic strip that ran from 1938 to 1964. That’s because - of all those manifestations - the comic strips are just about the hardest to come by. As we’re currently enjoying a resurgence in comic strip reprints, we can only hope that old Red will soon be one of those getting the deluxe treatment.

In the meantime, this slim 1985 collection from Dragon Lady Press is about as good as it gets. (The cover above is not by Harman, but by V. Laszlo trying to emulate his style.) The book has only 66 pages, but it’s good stuff, presenting the first 7½ months of the strip’s run. Here are the first nine days . . .

(click to SUPERSIZE)



Harman went on to become a serious and respected western painter. My wife and I visited the Fred Harman Museum in Pagosa Springs, CO a few years back, where we had a nice visit with his son and saw a lot of amazing art. Here's a sample of his later work (I bought a print of this first one):





As usual, you should gallop on over to pattinase for Patti Abbott's list of links to other Forgotten Books.

6 comments:

pattinase (abbott) said...

I bet the majority of people recognize the name from A CHRISTMAS STORY-maybe not even realizing Red Ryder existed in fiction.

Richard Prosch said...

Beautiful paintings! I had no idea Harman was a gifted realist. Meanwhile, them Dragon Lady Press books are well worth hunting down. I know they did some Cap'n Easy & Wash Tubbs that are similarly hard to find.

Evan Lewis said...

I've heard of that A CHRISTMAS STORY connection, but never seen the film.

I have LOTS of that Dragon Lady Press stuff. The Captain Easy and Buz Sawyer strips are especially good.

Richard R. said...

Red Ryder was a favorite of mine as a kid, but it was the comic books I read. I hadn't seen these strips before. They are quite well drawn.

A CHRISTMAS STORY is well worth seeing, Evan. Jean Shepard's humor is wonderful stuff.

Deka Black said...

I love the paintings! The first is full of movement and life

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

Today is Peter Billingsley's birthday, which ties in with the BB gun angle.