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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

DICK DARING OF THE MOUNTIES (AKA: JIM CANADA)

DICK DARING
OF THE MOUNTIES
(AKA: JIM CANADA)
Thriller Picture Library first appeared in 1951. The 64 page, digest-sized, British comic book began publication on a fortnightly schedule until going weekly in 1955. Like most British comics of the era, Thriller Picture Library sported a color cover with black and white interior art. Originally called Thriller Comics, the zine was later rebranded under its more commonly remembered title, Thriller Picture Library.

Each issue of Thriller Picture Library told a complete new adventure for a rotating lineup of heroic adventurers. At first, the stories were mainly illustrated versions of classic tales such as The Three Musketeers and The Man In The Iron Mask. Successfully finding a substantial audience, the comic began to feature new original stories based on folk heroes such as Rob Roy, Dick Turpin, Robin Hood and others.

During its run its long run, Thriller Picture Library, constantly adjusted its content to mirror changing audience interets. Mysteries, Westerns, sci-fi, and war stories all put in appearances with the pages of Thriller Picture Library. By the time Thriller Picture Library stopped publication with issue #450 in 1963, it was rotating between a list of modern action heroes, secret agents, and pilots.


The Royal Canadian Mounted Police had their own Thriller Picture Library hero—Dick Daring of the Mounties. Specifically created for Thriller Picture Library by Reg Bunn, the Scarlet-coated Daring entered the regular rotation of the digest comic's heroes in 1951, starting in Thriller Picture Library's Issue #217. Daring's adventures would continue to run intermittently for over thirty issues through 1961.  Michael Moorcock, who would go on to fame as a fantasy and science fiction author, wrote a number of the Dick Daring comic scripts.

RCMP Sergeant Daring was based out of Creek Town in the Yukon Territory. Along with chasing the usual assortment of Northwestern-style criminals, Dick was a friend of the Indians and often help them fight against their oppressors. 

Interestingly, Daring is is most often pictured on the covers wearing a muskrat fur Cossack-style wedge hat, which were issued to RCMP troopers along with their traditional and better known wide-brimmed campaign hat. 

 

Proving popular with international audiences, Dick Daring of the Mounties found himself translated into a number of European languages, including French, Spanish, and Italian.

The list of artists on the series reads like an Italian phone book—Sergio Tarquinio, Franco Bignotti, Virgilio Muzzi, Renato Polese, Gallieno Ferri, and Vittorio Cossio. Argentinians Carlos V. Roume and Martin El Salvador also contributed. These artists were instructed to leave the faces of recurring characters blank so Reg Bunn could finish them himself.

In 1961, Daring was replaced in the pages of Thriller Picture Library by Dogfight Dixon. However, because of a production glitch, a leftover issue of Dick Daring of the Mounties was substituted in, giving the intrepid hero what was supposed to be one last hurrah in issue #362.

However, you can't keep a good hero down. When Thriller Picture Library abandoned Daring, his name was changed to Jim Canada when his adventures were picked up by the Italian publishing company Dardo. The new Jim Canada  stories were written by Raffaele Garcea with artwork by Giorgio De Gaspari.

Despite the name change, the character remained a sergeant in the Canadian Royal Mounted Police and continued his quest as a guardian of law and order in the cold and savage Yukon, defending settlers, chasing down dastardly fur thieves and other outlaws, and alternately defending or being chased by indigenous Indians.

The first fifty issues of Jim Canada were basically reprints of Thriller Picture Library's original 64 page Dick Daring tales, but with the covers and interior text altered to conform with the name change. The popularity of this new version of the comic boomed, and issues of Jim Canada quickly expanded to 68 pages, then 166 pages, and finally to 196 pages with Issue #275.

The Dick Daring/Jim Canada adventures continued for over 297 issues—proving the worldwide fascination with the RCMP no matter what the name of its representative hero. 

However, the coming explosion in popularity of American comics from DC and Marvel would virtually destroyed the market for European comic publishers, including Italian giant Dardo. As a result, in 1968, Jim Canada (aka Dick Daring) of the RCMP was last seen riding off into the Canadian sunset.










1 comment:

  1. Another very interesting story of Northwestern paper / magazine history

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