• Stephen Burckhardt

Friday-ish Funnies: Red Ryder Comicstrip


Hello Posse,

Sorry I am a day late with this post I promised you. Still better than I normally do though, I feel like I'm always a day late and a dollar short, as my dad would say.

I was hit with a horrible migraine about 3 PM on Halloween and by that night, I was very ill. I did not even get out of bed yesterday. But I'm up today and will share a bit about the Red Ryder comicstrip I introduced you to on Monday.

Red Ryder was created by Stephen Slesinger and given life by artist Fred Harman. It was syndicated by Newspaper Enterprise Association and ran from 1938 to 1965. This Western comicstrip was very popular and spawned a large selection of Red Ryder merchandise, including the Daisy BB gun that was so prominently mentioned in the movie, A Christmas Story. (See the Monday Movie Madness blog for more on this.)

Slesinger had written a new comic strip called Red Ryder and was searching for a Western artist to make his vision come to life. He met Harman in 1938 and brought him to New York. The pair worked together for some time before launching the comicstrip.

The pair were able to expand the comic strip into radio shows, movies, a large merchandise line, and more. Harman, an authentic cowboy himself, did numerous personal appearances for the comicstrip. He went to charity benefits, civic events, school appearances, and was even the representative for Red Ryder youth enrichment programs.

Slesinger was an innovator when it came to marketing. He was able to secure Red Ryder and Little Beaver character products, tie-in merchandise, and play clothing sales nationwide and even exported his signature line to Egypt, Europe, India, Japan, and Latin America.

In 1940, the film serial, Adventures of Red Ryder, was released and was soon followed by several feature length films based on the comicstrip. It was even parodied in a Bugs Bunny Western cartoon in which Bugs faced off with the "Red Hot Ryder".

Difference actors portrayed the Red Ryder and his young Native sidekick, Little Beaver, over the years. The most recognisable name to audiences of a certain age, is Robert Blake. Blake had a long career in television and movies starting with the movie, Bridal Suite in 1939 at the age of six. He is probably best known for staring in his own Emmy-winning TV show, Baretta, where he played the lead character, a hard-nosed, cockatoo owning, undercover cop. Blake took over the role of Little Beaver in the Red Ryder series in 1944 and appeared in 23 movies. He left the role in 1947.

The last Red Ryder film to be released by republic was the Marshal of Cripple Creek in 1947. There would be four more Red Ryder films release by Eagle-Lion Films in 1949-1950.

This entire franchise was born from the western comicstrip Red Ryder. You can still find Red Ryder comic books online through numerous sources like Heritage Auctions. If you collect comics, this would be a great piece of Western Americana to add to your collection.

And now for a few extra funnies, enjoy!

Stephen

Sources:

DVD listing on Amazon.com

Heritage Auctions

Marshal of Cripple Creek

Red Ryder

Robert Blake

What did the cowboy say when his dog ran away?

Doggone!

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Why was the bow-legged cowboy fired from the cattle ranch?

Because he couldn't keep his calves together!

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Why do cowboys always want to die with their boots on?

So they won't stub their toe when they kick the bucket!

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