Monday, March 04, 2024


Firsts and Lasts: King of the Royal Mounted Rides Forth


 King Features threw a lot of new tabloid Sunday features up against the wall in 1935. Mostly they were needed to fill the new tabloid format Sunday section that Hearst had decided to experiment with, and hey, if they managed to sell the new stuff in syndication so much the better. King of the Royal Mounted definitely got its name in the "so much the better" column, as it took off quite nicely. Nicely enough, in fact, that a daily was added the next year. 

Above is the seldom seen first Sunday of King of the Royal Mounted, which appeared on February 17 1935. The art on this inaugural Sunday was unsigned but by Allen Dean. I love how the story just jumps right in there and rockets right off. No intro, no explanatory dialogue, just slam-bang action. 

As much as I should be well-versed in King of the Royal Mounted lore, being a Canuck and all, I must admit to having read very little of the strip. So I think I'll just shut up and ask you to keep reading over at Don Markstein's Toonopedia, where he gives you all the lowdown on this classic adventure strip. He'll even tell you Sergeant King's first name, and I bet there was a lotta reading went into finding that li'l factoid!


Trina told me that when she was a kid, she just natcherly figgered that the hero of this strip was THE King of the Royal Mounted. Mounties would have a King, wouldn't they?
Hello Allan-
It would have seemed to be better to launch one of the new Tab features the week that the Hearst chain sections converted, on 3rd of February, but they waited until the 17th.
Years ago, Ron Goulart brought up the obscure "MEN OF THE MOUNTED" strip, syndicated by the Toronto Star, as ending on 16 February 1935, indicating that KFS may have had to wait for, or even somehow hasten, that ending, in order to clear the deck for another, presumably better, Mountie strip.
What do you think? I can see a natural fan base in Canada, of course, was it especially supported there? There were foreign clients, of course, I have comic books in Spanish, for instance, where he's "Rey De La Policia."
In France, this comics was first issued with the title: "Le Roi de la Police Montée".
Hi Mark --
That is a real head-scratcher about the Canadian strip. Do you need permission to feature a real public organization in a strip? If so, it makes perfect sense, as the RCMP might have said, effectively, "Get in line, chum." But I don't recall ever hearing that being a rule -- maybe just a smart and ethical business decision not to peeve the organization on which you're basing a strip.

Do you happen to know if "King..." paid any sort of royalties/commission/donation to the RCMP over the years? Did the RCMP keep tabs on the strip and provide guidance?

Gee, I wonder if "Crock" sought the okay of the French Foreign Legion?

Never did I ever run into any official connexion to the RCMP with King of the mounted. It would seem that "King" and company are all fictional people, and so the organisation's reputation has no direct stake in it, unlike strips like "War On Crime" which were supposedly actual FBI cases.
When it was launched, I think they had really high hopes for it, after all, it had Zane Grey's name on it, and some licensing and movie contracts appeared, thus avoid a direct competitor at the start to eliminate confusion.
Never ran across much promotional material for the strip, on either side of the border, that's why I was curious if there really was any special feeling by Canadians. I get the impression that it never rose above the status of mediocrity. Note that it was killed off in 1954, right in the middle of a story. No way to treat a strip that had a worthwhile fan or client list.
At some point early on, about 1940, Stephen Schlesinger's name started appearing in the copyright line, so maybe that's a reason for the course of the strip's history- he owned it and not King Features.
It should have been well-known here in Canuck-land. The Toronto Star, a de facto national paper, ran the strip to the bitter end.

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