First appeared in The Comic Reader #172, September 1979
Jim Engel: With DD,DD #7, I was starting to flesh out Dick Duck’s “back story a bit more, specifically introducing some of his colleagues at a “Private Dick Convention”… The idea of a convention of guys all identically dressed in trench-coats and grey fedoras amused me, as did the Holiday Inn sign (in those pre-internet-easy-access-to-reference days, I actually stood outside a Holiday Inn and sketched the sign). Sam (ala Sam Spade) Ram debuted, demonstrating my love of names and revealing that Dick had been part of a team (ala Spade & Archer)–”Duck & Ram”.
Dashiell Hamster (a play on Detective fiction great Dashiell Hammett) also appears for the first time. The name “Dashiell Hamster”was actually made up by my cartooning partner-in-crime, Chuck Fiala. We had “traded” each other character names. Earlier, I had given Chuck the name “Joe Crow” and the strip name “Joke Row starring Joe Crow” for a character he was developing for his “FVP” fanzine. I’d had a Joe Crow character in High School, kind of an old-time song & dance guy (star of “The Joe Crow Show”). Chuck reciprocated by giving me Dashiell to add to my detective strip.
A hand-made button (from Jim’s High School days) featuring “Joe Crow”.
Also referenced was Dashiell’s “old enemy”, “The Ghoulish Archie Pelican” (a very esoteric pun on the book “The Gulag Archipeligo”). Pelican would actually appear in the one longer form Dick Duck story I ever did, “NO SWEAT” — recently reprinted at Mykal Banta’s, THE BIG BLOG OF KIDS’ COMICS, and available HERE for your perusal.
“The Ghoulish Archie Pelican” from “Dick Duck, Duck Dick in: NO SWEAT!”
The dialogue of the background detectives (Snoopy cameo) in panel 2 was my responding to mail THE COMIC READER had been receiving about the new strips (DICK DUCK, BULLET CROW, and the fumetti I did with Chuck—FANDOM CONFIDENTIAL) it had been running. “Bruning Bear” was Richard Bruning, who’d written something nice (Bruning would have a distinguished art/design/writing career with Capitol & DC Comics), “John Durning III” was somebody by that name (Gee—I didn’t even anthropomorphize him!) who’d dissed us, and “M. Stroud Stork” was an “M. Stroud” who’d also praised us. I (we) certainly appreciated the supportive letters to TCR (the highlight there being Alex Toth writing in to say he ENJOYED our strips, in direct response to a guy who’d requested we be dumped in favor of more pages of SUPERMAN dailies), and I got similar compliments from people at cons (notably Dave “Cerebus” Sim, and Frank Miller), which imbued me with enthusiasm to keep it up…
That’s it for now… “Pals” are nice again, and oh yeah—that’s me in panel 7 in the round glasses.