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Dan Dunn is a fictional detective created by Norman W. Marsh. He first appeared in Detective Dan: Secret Operative No. 48, a proto-comic book from 1933, produced by Humor Publishing. He subsequently appeared in newspaper comic strips.

Dan Dunn
Detective Dan: Secret Operative No. 48 (1933).
Cover art by Norman W. Marsh
Publication information
Publisher Humor Publishing
First appearance Detective Dan: Secret Operative No. 48 (1933)
Created by Norman W. Marsh


Publication historyEdit

Comic bookEdit

Dan Dunn first appeared in Humor Publishing's proto-comic book Detective Dan: Secret Operative No. 48, copyrighted on May 12, 1933.[1] Comics historian Don Markstein notes that this comic and the only two others from this publisher were pioneering in that they contained "non-reprinted comics in 1933", though these periodicals were not "in modern comic book format. Theirs were done as tabloids"[2] with Detective Dan: Secret Operative No. 48 measuring either 9 1/2 x 12-inches[3] or 10 x 13-inches[4] (sources differ), with black-and-white newsprint pages and a three-color cardboard cover.[3] It sold for 10 cents.[4]

Comic strip and other mediaEdit

Dan Dunn
Author(s) Norman W. Marsh (1933–1941)
Allen Saunders (1942–1943)
Illustrator(s) Paul Pinson, Alfred Andriola (1942–1943)
Current status / schedule Daily & Sunday; concluded
Launch date September 25, 1933
End date 1943
Syndicate(s) Publishers Syndicate
Genre(s) adventure

On September 25, 1933, Publishers Syndicate began distributing Dan Dunn as a comic strip that eventually peaked at 135 newspapers.[2] A Sunday color page was added not long after the daily strip's launch.[2] Marsh both drew and wrote Dan Dunn from 1933–41,[5] One critic describes the artwork as the weaker aspect, calling it "arid", with a chronic, wintry aspect", "cavernous spaces" and "huddled, stiff-jointed postures."[6] Assistants included Jack Ryan c. 1937, Ed Moore c. 1937-38, and Dick Fletcher.[5]

Marsh left the strip In 1942 following a disagreement with Publishers Syndicate. Allen Saunders, the syndicate's comics editor, took over as writer from 1942–43, with art first by Paul Pinson and then by Alfred Andriola. Saunders and Andriola subsequently replaced Dan Dunn with a new detective strip, Kerry Drake in 1943.[7]

Dan Dunn eventually appeared in Big Little Books.[8] In 1936, Dan Dunn became the title character of a pulp magazine that lasted for two issues.[citation needed]

In 1944, Dan Dunn, Secret Operative #48 was produced as a 15-minute syndicated radio program which ran for a total of 78 episodes.[9]


Markstein calls the square-jawed Detective Dunn an imitation of Dick Tracy, blowing away criminals with the same no-nonsense resort to violence that fans liked seeing during an era of urban crime gangs. In newspapers, however, Dunn never approached Tracy's popularity.[2] The strip's successor writer, Allen Saunders, believed the comic rivaled Dick Tracy in pioneering themes and techniques of the American detective comic.[7]


  1. ^ Catalog of Copyright Entries. Part 1. [B] Group 2. Pamphlets, Etc. New Series. United States Library of Congress. 1933. p. 13,978. 
  2. ^ a b c d Dan Dunn at Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived 2012-04-13 at WebCite from the original on April 14, 2012.
  3. ^ a b Detective Dan: Secret Operative No. 48 at the Grand Comics Database.
  4. ^ a b Coville, James. "Newsstand Period 1922 - 1955". Archived from the original on June 3, 2016. Retrieved October 6, 2016. 
  5. ^ a b Leiffer, Paul; Ware, Hames, eds. "Dan Dunn". (entry), The Comic Strip Project: Credits A-D. Archived from the original on June 25, 2016. 
  6. ^ Phelps, Donald (February 1986). "Flat Foot Floogie". Nemo, the Classic Comics Library (17). pp. 33–38. 
  7. ^ a b Saunders, Allen (1983–1986). "Playwright for Paper Actors". Nemo, the Classic Comics Library (4-7, 9, 10, 14, 18, 19). 
  8. ^ "Dan Dunn, Crime Never Pays". Archived from the original on March 15, 2015. Retrieved October 9, 2016. 
  9. ^ Hickerson, Jay (1992). The Ultimate History of Network Radio Programming and Guide to All Circulating Shows (2 ed.). Hamden, Connecticut: Privately published. p. 94. 

External linksEdit