FANZINE #5: THE LOVES OF DETECTIVE SPEED
By: Kevin Noel Olson
Debuting in 1939, Detective Hy Speed and Rang-a-Tang were the only two characters to appear in all issues of Blue Ribbon Comics. The creation of German shepherd and the detective began with Norman Danberg, supported with Ed Ashe’s artwork. Hy is only mentioned in issue #7 as he is recuperating from a wound incurred in the previous comic. Even if this issue is excluded, it’s enough to beat out any other human character in the run of the comic book, with The Fox and Corporal Collins starting in issue #4 to continue through the final issue.
In issue #2, Detective Speed and Rang-a-Tang helps Gail Steele, the governess for the Vandermeer children. When there is a fire at the Vandermeer mansion, it’s discovered one of two toddlers is missing. While there is no significant romantic involvement, Gail and Hy spend a great deal of time together as the trail leads to the recovery of the child at a remote cabin in Canada.
Jack Binder and Will Harr take over as creative team for issue #3. In this, Detective Speed is revealed to have a “girl friend”. Sally runs (or owns) a luncheonette. Sally is kidnapped by gangsters. Hy tries to rescue her and is also captured. The gangsters use dynamite to blow the pair up, but Rang-a-Tang grabs the bomb and rescues them from harm. This is Sally’s only appearance, although there is obviously some romantic fire between the pair. When they are confronted by gangsters, Sally throws in with Hy to fight side-by-side. Binder and Harr leave the Rang-a-Tang creative position. Joe Blair began took over the writing with Ed Smalle art in issue #4. The Blair/Smalle team continues
throughout the series, with Warren King stepping in as artist on an issue. It seems likely that, if the Binder/Harr team continued, Sally would become a substantial character.
Detective Speed is a capable, no-nonsense detective. When we discuss the attachments of his heart, we must recognize the strong and continuing bond between Hy and Rang-a-Tang which begins in issue #1. Rang-a-Tang rescues Speed from gangsters that intend to kill the law enforcer.
The brotherly affection the detective feels for child actor Richy Waters, the Amazing Boy. Richy meets Hy and Rang in issue #6 and maintains the bond of friendship throughout the 22 issue run. Richy helps Hy and Rang take out pro-Nazi bundsters on a movie set. Richy shares the undying admiration for Hy. Hy not only takes up the role of Richy’s big brother, he becomes a guardian of a type. Richy’s parents are never revealed. It’s worth noting that Richy appeared in September of 1940, the Amazing Boy following the first appearance Batman’s sidekick. Robin, the Boy Wonder, appeared in April of the same year in Detective Comics #38. Detective Speed appears in November of 1939, 5 months after Batman’s debut in May of that year.
Film actress Linda Lane first appears in Blue Ribbon #15, and she hits it off right away with Hy. Also debuting in the same issue is a comedy relief character, Trigger Quick. Linda Lane quickly causes friction with Richy. As it draws away attention from the boy Rang. The question is posed of making her Mrs. Speed at the conclusion of the story. The matter is not brought up again. No letters in favor or against the idea of Hy’s marriage to Linda appear in print. Up until Issue #17, Linda Lane is prominently featured. She disappears in issue #18, with Trigger Quick holding on until issue #20. The final two issues feature Rang-a-Tang, Richy, the Boy Wonder, Detective Hy Speed as the main characters. A character called “Miss Lane” appears in issue #21 as a mark for a charlatan of a medium called Dr. Sorrow. While the character could be Linda Lane, there is no clear indication and no interaction between her and Hy.
Examining the romantic options available to Hy Speed, there is some question if his position as a detective left room for a long-term relationship in his near future. Gail Steele certainly might have taken his heart, yet once their adventure concluded, so too their connection. Sally came off as a very strong character, yet the departure of the creative team seemed to leave her in limbo. Linda Lane carried on with Hy for some time. The palpable romantic interest simply did not mesh into the life of the detective. If Blue Ribbon continued, it’s possible Linda Lane may have returned.