SAM HILL, PRIVATE EYEMedium: Comic Books
Published by: Close-Up (Archie Comics)
First Appeared: 1950
Creators: Unknown writer and Harry Lucey (artist)
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responsible for a typically tough-talking, tough-acting private detective of the 1950s, heyday of the tough-guy detective in American media of all types. But it hadn't been all that many years since The Witch's Cauldron and Mr. Satan had cavorted through the back pages of the company's superhero titles, so for it to publish this sort of book wasn't unprecedented even tho it had been concentrating almost exclusively on teenage humor since the mid-1940s.
But Sam Hill wasn't as violent as many of his pre-Comics Code contemporaries, such as Ken Shannon, Starr Flagg, and especially Johnny Dynamite. Whereas Johnny was billed as "The Chicago Wild Man" and Ken as "The Mad Irishman", Sam was merely "America's Hard-Boiled, Wise-Cracking Sleuth". And his comic wasn't even in the same league as the crime comics without heroes, exemplified by Crime Does Not Pay. Even so, Archie saw fit to create a new imprint, Close-Up Comics, when it launched Sam Hill, Private Eye.
Sam had all the right accoutrements for a member of the genre popularized by former comic book writer Mickey Spillane (Captain America, Mike Danger). He worked with a police detective, Lt. Dugan, but their relationship was fairly rocky and characterized by mutual distrust. Not so, his relationship with his dependable, trustworthy secretary, Roxy, who was every bit as tough as a hard-boiled detective's secretary ought to be. He also had the good looks endemic in fictional heroes of all types, in his case enhanced by a white streak through the middle of his otherwise black hair.
Sam's first issue came out in 1950, without a specific cover date. The writer's name isn't known, but the artist was Harry Lucey. His other credits at Archie (starting when the company was called MLJ, after its founders' first initials) include Madam Satan, The Hangman and Archie himself. The title lasted seven issues, ending in 1951, also without a specific cover date. The character hasn't been seen since. The next time Archie Comics departed from teen humor was in 1959, with The Shield, this time using the imprint "Archie Adventure Series".