For more than five decades, a certain taciturn tough guy took the Sunday comic strips by storm with his swashbuckling adventures. This year marks the 90th anniversary of this character’s debut. Do you know who this is?
On February 26, 1929, cartoonist Roy Crane introduced Captain Easy as a supporting character to the series Wash Tubbs, which followed the exploits of Washington Tubbs II. Captain Easy very quickly became a popular character and soon after launched his own Sunday page, Captain Easy, Soldier of Fortune, in July 1933. The chivalrous Southern adventurer followed the classic adventure-hero mold of the time, but his strip was one of the first all adventure newspaper strips. After countless globetrotting adventures, Captain Easy, Soldier of Fortune saw Captain Easy enlist in the US Army during World War II, before embarking on a career as a private detective.
Captain Easy, Soldier of Fortune was syndicated by Newspaper Enterprise Association from 1933 until 1987. Outside of the newspapers, Captain Easy also made appearances in such comics as Famous Funnies, The Funnies, and Dell 4-Color. A hardcover collection of his adventures, Captain Easy, Soldier of Fortune: The Complete Sunday Newspaper Strips Vol. 1 features nearly all of the full-color strips. This collection follows Captain Easy as he visits a lost city, battles pirates, dons a diving suit in search of treasure and of course meets plenty of beautiful women.
Many comic historians note that Captain Easy influenced roles for the likes of Hollywood actors such as Cary Grant and Errol Flynn, along with influencing many comic heroes who followed him. “Superman was Captain Easy; Batman was Captain Easy,” Gil Kane once expressed.
Crane’s indomitable and courageous hero served as the template for characters that later defined comic books, while his Bigfoot cartooning style impacted the aesthetic standards for future newspaper strips.
Even after 90 years, Crane’s expressive techniques on Captain Easy, Soldier of Fortune is why Peanuts creator Charles Schulz once said, “He’s a treasure. There is still no one around who draws any better.”