Brick Bradford
Clarence Gray's Brick Bradford (June 21, 1942)
Author(s)William Ritt (1933–1948)
Clarence Gray (1948–1956)
Paul Norris (1956–1987)
Illustrator(s)Clarence Gray (1933–1956)
Paul Norris (1952–1987)
Current status/scheduleConcluded daily & Sunday strip
Launch dateAugust 21, 1933
End dateApril 25, 1987
Syndicate(s)Central Press Association / King Features Syndicate
Publisher(s)David McKay Publications
Genre(s)science fiction adventure

Brick Bradford was a science fiction comic strip created by writer William Ritt, a journalist based in Cleveland, and artist Clarence Gray. It was first distributed on August 21, 1933[1] by Central Press Association, a subsidiary of King Features Syndicate which specialized in producing material for small-town newspapers.[2]

Brick Bradford achieved its greatest popularity outside the United States. The series was carried by both newspapers and comic books in Australia and New Zealand. In France the strip was known as Luc Bradefer ("Luke Ironarm") and was published in many newspapers.[3] The strip was also widely published in Italy where it was known variously as Giorgio Ventura and Marco Spada[3] and in Greece in the newspaper Έθνος during the 1960s.

Publication history

Ritt grew tired of Brick Bradford in the mid-1940s, and by 1948 he had turned over first the daily and then the Sunday to Gray, who did the strip by himself until his health problems increased. In 1952, Paul Norris (who had been working on King's Jungle Jim) took over the daily. When Gray died in 1956, Norris took over the Sunday strip. Norris retired in 1987, and the strip was retired as well with the daily ending April 25, 1987, and the Sundays two weeks later.

Characters and story

Brick Bradford was an athletic and adventurous redheaded (later blond) aviator from Kentucky[4] who continually encountered fantastic situations.[2] Initially, the strip was focused on Earth-bound, aviation-focused adventures, in a similar manner to Lester J. Maitland and Dick Calkins' Skyroads. However, as the strip developed, Brick Bradford increasingly featured fantastic elements in the manner of Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon. Ritt was an admirer of science fiction writers H. G. Wells, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Abraham Merritt, and drew on some of their ideas when writing Brick Bradford.[3] Brick Bradford now became more of a space opera/adventure story, with its tales of dinosaurs, lost civilizations, intergalactic villains, robots and subatomic worlds.[2]

By 1935, Brick Bradford's popularity had greatly increased, and it arrived in the Sunday comics sections of major newspapers in 1933, followed by a weekend edition that began November 24, 1934. In the daily strips Brick kept company with his friend Sandy Sanderson, balding and bearded scientist Kalla Kopak, and June Salisbury, Brick's girlfriend and daughter of his ally Professor Van Atta Salisbury.[3] The Sunday strips featured completely different characters and plots. Here Brick was often accompanied on his adventures by Professor Horatio Southern and his daughter April, who was Brick's love interest .[2] Later characters included Brick's pugnacious sidekick Bucko O'Brien and the beautiful, black-haired bad girl Saturn Sadie who reformed and in the end married the stalwart hero.

Brick's enemies included Dr. Franz Ego, a spy; Avil Blue, inventor of a giant robot; and the "Assassins", descendants of the Middle Eastern sect of the same name.[3]

On April 20, 1935, the strip added a large top-shaped time machine invented by Professor Southern called, fittingly, the Time Top which could travel to both past and future and off into the depths of space, presaging Doc Wonmug's device in Alley Oop four years later[2] and the TARDIS on Doctor Who by almost three decades.

Daily strips by Clarence Gray and William Ritt

Daily strips by Paul Norris

Paul Norris' Brick Bradford strip of January 27, 1955
Paul Norris' Brick Bradford strip of January 27, 1955

Sunday strips by Clarence Gray and William Ritt

Sunday Strips by Paul Norris

Reprints

Brick Bradford was reprinted in comic-book form as King Features began to expand into that genre, including King Comics (published by David McKay Publications), starting from April 1936 (along with Barney Google, Henry, Popeye and Bringing Up Father among others), as well as in Ace Comics from 1947 to 1949. As the old comics were reprinted, a new series starring Brick was published by Standard Comics, but the series was soon canceled after 4 issues.

Brick Bradford reappeared by 1966 in original comics published by King Comics. Brick Bradford stories appeared as back-up strips in The Phantom #26, 28 and Mandrake the Magician #5–7, 9, 10.[5]

In the 1970s, the Pacific Comics Club reprinted several Brick Bradford stories in book form.[6] Numerous Brick Bradford stories were reprinted in Italian and French booklets.[6]

Collections of comic strip stories

In other media

The strip also had a book series produced by Whitman Publishing's Big Little Books.

Brick Bradford, a 15-chapter serial film starring Kane Richmond, was produced by Columbia Pictures in 1947.[7]

Brick Bradford was referenced in the 1965 The Dick Van Dyke Show episode "Uhny Uftz" when Rob believe he has seen a flying saucer with the "Brick Bradford insignia" on it, which he describes as being like a lightning bolt (in the actual comic strip Brick's insignia was a "B" in a circle[4]).

Time Top sculpture

Before his death from cancer, Canadian artist Jerry Pethick (1935 – 2003) conceived a large bronze sculpture in the shape of the Time Top as depicted in later installments of Brick Bradford. In 2004, his widow, Margaret Pethick, took over the project. It was submerged in sea water for two years while connected to an electrical source to accelerate barnacle and mineral accretion on its surface for an aged look. In August 2006, the sculpture was installed on its permanent site at False Creek, Vancouver, British Columbia.[8][9]

References

  1. ^ Holtz, Allan (2012). American Newspaper Comics: An Encyclopedic Reference Guide. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press. p. 83. ISBN 9780472117567.
  2. ^ a b c d e Ron Goulart, "The 30s – Boomtime for SF Heroes". Starlog magazine, January 1981 (pp. 31–35).
  3. ^ a b c d e "Brick Bradford", in I Grandi Eroi del Fumetto, by Franco Fossati. Rome : Gremese Editore, 1990 ISBN 8876054960 (pp 59–60).
  4. ^ a b Jeff Rovin, Adventure Heroes: Legendary Characters from Odysseus to James Bond New York, N.Y. : Facts On File, Inc., 1994 ISBN 0-8160-2886-9 (p. 25)
  5. ^ John Wells and Keith Dallas, American comic book chronicles the 1960s : 1965–1969 Raleigh, North Carolina : TwoMorrows Publishing, 2014. ISBN 9781605490557 (p. 141-5, 150–2)
  6. ^ a b John A. Lent. Cartoonists, works, and characters in the United States through 2005 : an international bibliography Westport, Conn. : Praeger Publishers, 2006. ISBN 9780313083921 (pp. 434–9).
  7. ^ James Robert Parish & Michael R. Pitts The Great Science Fiction Pictures. Metuchen, N.J. : Scarecrow Press, 1977. ISBN 0810810298 (p. 48)
  8. ^ Arts: "Time capsule"
  9. ^ Time Top sculpture description and photo at City of Vancouver site

Sources