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Vic Flint was one of many plainclothes crime-fighters that followed the success of Dick Tracy, such as Dan Dunn and Red Barry. But he wasn’t quite a clone. For one thing, he was a private, as opposed to government-employed detective; and thus didn’t devote himself to fighting crime in general, but only fought it on an ad hoc basis, when a client paid him to fight a criminal in a particular instance. For another, he came along too late to be thought of as a Tracy knock-off. By the time he started, Sunday, Jan. 6, 1946, detectives were fully established as a genre of newspaper comics.

For a third, Vic was the first-person narrator of his series. This device is common in prose detective stories, such as those about Philip Marlow or Archie Goodwin (no relation) as assistant to Nero Wolfe, but seldom seen in comics. This may be because the comics form, which clearly depicts the action from outside, is jarringly inconsistent with narration from the inside. It may also be why second-person narration, rarely seen in any medium, is virtually nonexistent in comics with the exception of some EC stories.

Vic’s comic was distributed by Newspaper Enterprise Association, which also did contemporaries such as Alley Oop and Red Ryder and in more recent years, before its merger into United Media (Luann, For Better or for Worse), syndicated Frank & Ernest and Arlo & Janis.

It was created by writer “Michael O’Malley” (a house name used mostly by syndicate editor Ernest “East” Lynn) and artist Ralph Lane, formerly an assistant to Roy Crane (Buz Sawyer, Captain Easy). Lane left unceremoniously in 1950, in the middle of a Sunday episode, and was replaced by Dean Miller (Mighty O’Malley). Later it was done by Art Sansom, prior to his launch of The Born Loser. Its last artist was John Lane, Ralph’s son, who much later did Ben Swift for the same syndicate.

The closest Vic ever came to a media phenenomenon was to get a few strips reprinted by small comic book publishers. Between 1948 and ’55, St. John Publishing (which licensed the Terrytoons characters between Marvel and Dell) reprinted some in its title Authentic Police Cases. They also ran them in five issues under Vic’s own title, from 1948-49. In 1952, they ran some in Fugitives from Justice. He also had his own title for two issues published in 1956 by Argo Publications (Kerry Drake, Boots & Her Buddies). Much later, Ken Pierce Books (Modesty Blaise, Abby & Slats) published a Vic Flint volume in graphic novel form.

Vic wasn’t even a big enough name to hold onto the title of his own comic. In 1965, it was changed to The Good Guys and converted from adventure to jokes. This was long after the January, 1956 demise of the daily version.

The radical alteration proved only a temporary fix for declining circulation. The syndicate pulled the plug on it during March of 1967.

20 strips 1946

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