A Not Ready for Primetime Player -- Rocky Britt(c) 2016, Arthur L. Lortie

I'm never sure what criteria the syndicate big wigs used when they cherry picked their way through a mound of comic strip submissions back in the 1930's. Perhaps there was the equivalent of a casting couch in every penthouse office in the Manhattan newspaper district.

A bigger mystery though is -- what the hell is this?

My attention was drawn to a batch of demo strips that appeared on eBay in 2016 -- 2 weeks of a cliched western feature. It rushed headlong through a simplistic plot featuring a square jawed drifter, and his horse Tex, trying to recover cattle stolen from the Circle Bar Ranch by a rustler named Wolf and his sexy accomplice Ginger.

12-2.jpgI'm cGirl 12-1.jpgertain you've seen and / or read this basic setup before, perhaps in an episode of CHEYENNE or a western movie serial or a Zane Grey novel or a LONE RANGER comic. Or maybe the correct answer is "all of the above".

The art had a certain charm, and many of the figures were similar to those of V. T. Hamlin on ALLEY OOP (though it certainly is not him).

The whole thing had potential! It coulda been a contenda!

But no one picked up the option, and it went to that Big Reject Bin in the sky (and eBay) while leaving us with a whole saddlebag full of tantalizing mysteries. All the clues we have come from the notes scribbled on the artwork.

The hero's full name is Dan "Rocky" Britt so ROCKY BRITT was most likely its planned title.

I should note that the fictional Circle Bar Ranch in Montana was a common location in SCORCHY SMITH from at least 1930 to 1934.

Scorchy Smith 19320813 (The Greenwood Commonwealth).jpg

back1.jpg01-3a.jpgThe stamp on the left includes both The Bell Syndicate (at 247 West 43rd Street, New York, which is also the home of the TAILSPIN TOMMY FLYING CLUB), and CNF, or the Consolidated News Features (ON THE RANGE by Fred Harmon etc). John N. Wheeler owned both syndicates.from 1930 on through his North American Newspaper Alliance (NANA).
TAILSPIN TOMMY comic strip, 1938

Get Western Story Mags sales figures" is pretty clear; followed by "Western movies"???? and "by Rex Beach" hints that this may be an adaptation of a work by the latter. Making it Beacn property -- sorry, couldn't resist -- suggests it may have been planned as a movie promo instead of a strip. though I find none of his adapted stories with the generic characters and locations Rocky. Wolf or Ginger or the Circle Bar Ranch,

Rex Ellingwood Beach (1877-1949) was a novelist and playwright of some note, and an Olympic water polo player. An incredible 53 of his novels and short stories were adapted to the screen from 1910 to 1955. The FictionMag index alone lists 124 magazine stories.

His papers are housed in the Rollins College Library in Winter Park, Florida, but their abstract fails to note ROCKY nor any connection with Stephen Slesinger, whose company apparently commissioned the strip.