A newspaper comic strip about a debonair and intelligent private detective who also happens to be good with guns and fists.
Rip Kirby was created by Alex Raymond, who was also the original creator of the Flash Gordon comic strip. When he returned from serving in World War II, he discovered that the syndicate had given that strip to another artist and wouldn't let Mr. Raymond take it back. As a consolation prize, they offered a much better financial deal if Mr. Raymond could come up with a new strip for them. After some consultation with the editorial staff, Mr. Raymond chose to make a detective strip, featuring a man who was a combination of cerebral and hardboiled, while also being very modern and "cool".
Rip Kirby was a man of many talents: athlete, scientist, amateur (later professional) sleuth and decorated Marine reservist. He was ably assisted by his British manservant Desmond, who was a former safecracker. While many attractive young women visited the strip, Rip's primary romantic interest was fashion model Honey Dorian, a sweet-natured blonde. Her most common rival was Pagan Lee, a dark-haired gun moll who'd reformed for love of Rip and become a movie star under the name Madelon.
Beginning in 1946 and running 53 years (though Alex Raymond died in 1956), it was a popular and influential strip.
Tropes seen in Rip Kirby include:
- Be as Unhelpful as Possible: All too common among witnesses.
- Becoming the Mask: Honey initially goes undercover as a model to help Rip solve a murder. It turns out she's really good at the job, and within a couple of years is considered expert enough to mentor beginning models herself.
- Betty and Veronica: Honey and Pagan, respectively
- Blackmail: A very frequent occurence in the series, often targeting Pagan, who has a lot of darkness in her past.
- Brainy Brunette: Pagan, though it's more street smarts than book learning.
- Bump into Confrontation: Lady Lilliput does not take well to being bum ped into by a child.
- Card Sharp: "Fingers" Moray
- Comic-Book Time: The characters aged little if at all over the decades.
- Falsely Reformed Villain: "Fingers" Moray's second appearance had him claiming to be reformed and working as a private eye. He was actually planning to engage in some jewel theft.
- Femme Fatale: Pagan Lee, initially.
- Fille Fatale: "Silky" Shaw, leader of a street gang and accomplice of a forger/blackmailer.
- The Gambling Addict: Elizabeth "Betya" Bannister
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Honey is young, sweet, wholesome and reflexively kind, a strong contrast to Pagan.
- Heartwarming Orphan: Lupo, and the two even smaller girls he's taking care of.
- High-HeelFace Turn: Pagan is influenced both by Rip's handsome integrity, and by the Mangler cheating on her.
- Kick the Dog: Lady Lilliput thrashes a child with her cane for accidentally bumping her; the first indication she's not the harmless eccentric she appears.
- Napoleon Delusion: Captain Cormorant is borderline with this towards Lord Nelson.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The Mangler.
- Never Found the Body / No One Could Survive That!: One of the Mangler's special talents; his unusually strong swimming talents were established in the strip he first appeared in.
- Noodle Incident: Whatever Pagan did in France that she can't even admit to Rip.
- Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Rip Kirby, in response to an offer by Derek Starlock.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Derek and Ellen Starlock, though they mean well, and the initial rule (preventing the Starlocks from adopting because Derek had served a term in jail some 30 years before) was a bit unfair.
- Smoking Is Cool: Rip smokes a pipe to show he's intellectual.
- Start to Corpse: The second strip.
- Uncle Pennybags: The Starlocks' true nature, once Rip figures out how to get them out of the mess they've created.
- Wrongly Accused: A frequent plot in the series.