This blog-post features Lucey’s hard-boiled tuff guy, Sam Hill. All my previous entries in this series have dealt with costumed characters and in a way Sam still continues this trend. The guy must have a closet fulla identical blue suits and if you include his “skunky” shock of white hair, Sam has a look as distinctive as any cape and cowl..
The SAM HILL – PRIVATE EYE series ran for 7 issues over the course of 1950 and 51. This was the Archie Comics toe in the water, testing the arena of the popular Crime comic genre. Sam is just about my favorite title in that milieu. He’s as cool as ice and brimming with street smarts and snappy patter. With his able gal-Friday Roxy by his side the strip seems torn from the screen of a film noir. This territory granted Lucey license to illustrate a number of gorgeous ‘dames’ in each multi-story issue.
Comparing the strip against his mystery men work a decade earlier, you’ll note a much more sophisticated style. He fills each panel with carefully rendered detail. Partially this comes for raw experience in the medium but like a number of the pioneers of the industry, Harry was called to serve in WW2. When he returned he left the field to work in advertising and his time there profoundly effected his work. Harry rejoined the comic book industry in 1949 and found steady work from his old employer MLJ, now renamed Archie Comics.
Here is a caper from issue # 2
Also from that comic is this 3-pager that challenges you to match wits with Sam.
The final strip is from issue #3. It gives a generous wink to “The Maltese Falcon”.
Sam Hill was Lucey’s last hurrah in the world of adventure comics. For the rest of his career he spent his time working on the Archie properties, along with a brief fling at Tower Comics where he did a couple pieces for the Archie-clone TIPPY TEEN.