Obscurity of the Day: Wiley of West Point

Lieutenant Richard Rick (yup, that’s really the name) wasn’t any great shakes as an artist, but his art is head and shoulders above his writing ability. Rick’s comic strip, Wiley of West Point, is the low point of the boy cadet genre that was popular in the first half of the 20th century. Sitting here looking through samples of the strip, I was searching for one to scan for this post. I had to look through dozens before I found one that had intelligible dialogue and conveyed some bit of a plot. The more typical strips are written in what I suppose Rick thought was snappy patter, but comes out as complete gobbledegook. The plot plays out in fits and starts, often hurtling ahead at warp speed with no regard for exposition – the reader is often left having no idea what’s going on.

I’ll not belabor the point much further, but one must wonder why Bell Syndicate would try to sell this material to newspapers. Practically the only paper I know of that ran it was the Brooklyn Citizen, and they only did so because they were at the low end of the New York City comic strip totem pole (exclusive contracts made it very hard for smaller New York City papers to get comics). That paper, indexed by Jeffrey Lindenblatt, provides us with the only known run, which is 3/4/1935 through 1/4/1936. Have you seen this strip anywhere else?

PS: forgot to mention that Rick valued his brainchild to the point where he retained copyright of the strips. Amazingly enough, he was able to resell the old strips to All-American Comics in 1940 — they ran the strips in their comic book in issues #1-21. At least I assume these are reprints and not new material…

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