Rip Kirby is a popular comic strip featuring the adventures of the eponymous lead character, a private detective created by Alex Raymond in 1946. Displaying the talents of more than a dozen writers and illustrators, the strip had a long run, spanning five decades.
Comics historian Don Markstein noted how the character of Remington “Rip” Kirby broke away from the usual pulp detective archetype:
“Circulation rose steadily during the strip’s first few years — even tho 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 two-fisted sidekick. 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! Even Kerry Drake didn’t depart so far from the standard. If Rip was more sophisticated and urbane than the average fictional private eye, that’s okay, because he was very successful — both for himself and for the people who wrote, drew and distributed him.”
In 1956, Raymond was killed in a car crash. King Features quickly needed a replacement and found it in John Prentice.
Dickenson continued to write the series until the mid-1980s when he was forced to retire for health reasons. Prentice then took over the writing along with others. Prentice kept the strip going until his own death in 1999. The strip ended with Rip’s retirement on June 26, 1999. Prentice received the National Cartoonists Society Story Comic Strip Award for 1966, 1967 and 1986 for his work on the strip.
Over the years of publication, the strip was ghosted and assisted by many artists and writers, including Frank Bolle (who completed the last episode), Al Williamson, and Gray Morrow.