Radio Patrol by Charlie Schmidt
Radio Patrol, 6 September 1936

Charlie Schmidt was an American newspaper comics artist, best known as co-creator of the police comic 'Radio Patrol' (1933-1950), which gained such a popularity in the mid-20th century that it was adapted into both a radio series, as well as a feature film.

Charles Schmidt was born in New York City on 14 September 1896. He never went to art school, but learned the trade from newspaper artists when he started as a copy boy. Prior to 'Radio Patrol', Schmidt had drawn a closed-end biographical feature about American boxer John L. Sullivan for the Ohio-based Central Press Association from January to March 1932. Sometimes photo panels were used in addition to Schmidt's artwork.

Radio Patrol by Charlie Schmidt
Radio Patrol, 27 August 1939

Together with crime reporter Eddie Sullivan he worked for the Boston Daily Record in the 1930s. In 1933 their editor William Randolph Hearst asked them to create a detective strip to compete with Chester Gould's 'Dick Tracy' (1931) in The Detroit Mirror. The daily strip came about in 1933 and was originally called 'Pinkerton, Jr.', after the protagonist: a young boy named Pinky Adams. Pinky eventually became a youngster and demoted to a sidekick of a new main character, Sergeant Pat O'Hara. Sergeant Pat is a brave police officer of Irish decent who often works together with his obese colleague, (Stutterin') Sam Maloney. The team is completed by the sharp policewoman Molly Day.

Radio Patrol by Charlie Schmidt
Sergeant Pat of Radio Patrol, 8 December 1941

While the series clearly tried to mimick 'Dick Tracy' it still had a far more realistic tone. Schmidt didn't use grotesque villains or far-fetched plot developments. Everything was plausible, down to the backgrounds which show an almost photographic depiction of Boston and its surrounding cities. 'Pinkerton, Jr.' quickly caught on and received a more nationwide distribution after being picked up by King Features Syndicate in 1934. From that moment on it was also retitled to 'Radio Patrol', named after the radio patrol car which was a brand new invention at the time. Later it got retitled again as 'Sergeant Pat of Radio Patrol', despite the fact that Pat always worked in a team.

'Radio Patrol' inspired a radio serial, as well as a 12-part film serial, produced by Universal Pictures in 1937. Between 1935 and 1940 four comic books were published, followed by reprints in King Comics from 1941 on. Several Big Little Books about the series were published in the late 1930s and early 1940s. The daily strip ran until October 1946, the Sunday strip until December 1950. A Sunday topper called 'Public Enemies Through the Ages' appeared in May and June 1935. The 'Radio Patrol' comic strip also enjoyed popularity abroad. Between 1935 and 1938 it ran in Italy under the name 'Radio Pattuglia', while it was published in the Turkish children's magazines Çocuk Sesi and 1001 Roman under the title 'Küçük Yılmazın Maceraları' ('The Adventures of Little Yılmaz', which was their translation of Pinky's name).

Schmidt passed away in Winthrop, Massachusetts on 28 May 1958.

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