Some of the Most Collectible P.I. Comics of All!
FEATURE BOOKS was started by the David McKay Publishing Company in 1937, and distributed by King Features Syndicate. It was the first comic book company to devote complete issues to single characters. At first they mostly reprinted the popular newspaper strips of the time, such as Popeye, Dick Tracy, Little Orphan Annie, The Lone Ranger, and even Secret Agent X-9 (although, unfortunately, not any of the arcs written by Dashiell Hammett). They eventually started to publish original adaptations of novels and in 1946, began a run of some of the most ambitious and collectible private eye comics to ever pop up. Issue #48 marked the classic adaptation of Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon, featuring Sam Spade, followed by two Perry Mason adaptations in issues 49 and 50. Number fifty-one boasted a reprint of the very first Rip Kirby continuity, and Rip returned with another collection of reprints in issue #54.
And that was that. The rest of Feature Books’ run consisted of reprints of non-P.I.s like The Phantom and Mandrake the Magician.
But just try and find any of them these days. Suffice it to say that if you do spot any of the issues pictured above at some flea market or garage sale, SNAP THEM UP!
(1937-48, David McKay Publications)
Distributed by King Features Syndicate
- SECRET AGENT X-9
(#8, 1937, David McKay Publications)
Reprint of later newspaper strips, although not by Hammett or Raymond
- THE MALTESE FALCON
(#48, 1946, David McKay Publications)
- PERRY MASON: THE CASE OF THE LUCKY LEGS
(#49, 1946, David McKay Publications)
- PERRY MASON: THE CASE OF THE SHOPLIFTER’S SHOE
(#50, 1947, David McKay Publications)
Cover art by Paul Norris
- RIP KIRBY: THE MYSTERY OF THE MANGLER
(#51, 1948, David McKay Publications)
- RIP KIRBY
(#54, 1948, David McKay Publications)