Hip Flask

Created by Richard Alan (aka Richard Starkings)

Down these mean streets a hippo/corporate mascot must go...

Not a real comic book eye, but an incredible facsimile. HIERONYMOUS "HIP" FLASK is a tough-talking, wise-cracking private eye, who walks softly, but carries a big gun. And, um, he's a hippopotamus. In fact, according to the cover of the very first faux issue of Hip Flask Mysteries, way back in 1958 (yeah, right!) he's "One Hungry Hippo..." And another blurb goes on to relate how Hip is "Harder than Rockford, more Frank than Cannon, but not quite as Foxy as Mulder, his mother named him Hieronymous Flask; only his colleagues call him "Hip." The people that really know him well don't call him at all."

He seems to be accompanied at times by his voluptuous and well-endowed Gal Friday, Satin, or his partner, the equally hot Vanity Case.

Hip was actually created by Richard Alan for Active Images as a marketing tool for their comic book fonts on their web site. Hip may have started as a shill, but he's a great gag, as some of the best artists in the comics biz (Jim Lee, Brian Bolland, Sergio Aragones, etc...) pay loving tribute to the funny books, with some loving parodies that manage to poke some gentle fun, and maybe even sell a few fonts.

As a graphic designer myself, when I first discovered Hip, I thought those were some truly tasty typefaces, and as a fan of detectives and comic books, I only wished Hip were real. From what I can see, his books would be a lot more fun than some of the stuff out there that actually exists. And there was a precedent of sorts, for the P.I. as corporate mascot. Dashiell Hammett's Sam Spade (and later Charlie Wild) were used in a string of comic ads in newspapers to plug Wildroot hair oil.

But it turns out Hip was too darn good to just use just to flag typefaces. After a string of mock comics, Starkings went legit in 2002, and Hip appeared in a couple of graphic novels which gave his backstory.

When last seen, Hip was part of the Elephantmen, a group of genetically modified super-powered human/animal hybrids trained to be weapons of mass destruction, who appeared in an eponymous series from 2006 to 2017, as well as assorted mini-series and graphic novels, all scripted by Starkings and featuring a virtual who's who of top-notch comic book illustrators. Among those comprising the group (besides Hip) are genetically modified warthogs, rhinoceroses, camels, crocodiles, zebras, giraffes, tigers and of course elephantsThe basic premise is that the Elephantmen were created by an evil scientist, but were later rehabilitated, and just want to live out their lives peacefully. Somehow that never quite happens.

TRIVIA

  • By the way, any similarity between Hip and Bodine Amerikah's Hairbutt the Hippo is purely coincidental. As Starkings say, "I later abandoned his P.I. identity when I became aware of (him)."
  • What? The world can only have one hippopautamus gumshoe?

COMIC BOOKS (HAH!)

All are actually 1997 or later, and as far as I know, none of these books actually exist. But the covers sure are tasty...

  • HIP FLASK MYSTERIES
    (1958)
    Written by Simon Furman
    Art by Steve Platt

  • HIP FLASK: GLADE RUNNER
    (Water Horse Comics)
    Written by Jeph Loeb
    Art by Ian Churchill
  • "Jungle To The Zoo" (Ivory Towers, Part Four"; #4)

  • FLASK THE BARBARIAN
    Written by Simon Furman
    Art by Steve Platt

A parody of a certain popular axe-wielding barbarian.

  • "Frost Giants and Fire Demons"

  • HIP FLASK'S SILENT NIGHT
    Written by Chris Francis
    Art by Sergio Aragones

  • HIP FLASK'S DIVINE RIGHT
    Written by Richard Alan
    Art by Jim Lee, Troy Hubbs

A crossover with Jim Lee's Max Faraday (wink, wink).

  • ENTER: FLASK
    Written by Richard Alan
    Art by Jim Lee, Troy Hubbs

  • HIP FLASK, PRIVATE HIPPOPOTAMUS
    Art by Brian Bolland

This one was available as a T-shirt, I think.

  • HIP FLASK: LONG AND LARGE
    (2001)
    Written and drawn by Jeph Loeb and Ian Churchill

  • HIP FLASK: SAHARA
    (2001)
    Written and drawn by Ian Churchill

  • HIP FLASK: THE LONG HOT SUMMER
    (2001)
    Written and drawn by Tim Sale

  • HIP FLASK, AGENT OF T.R.U.S.T.
    (2001)
    Written and drawn by Mike Weringo

  • HIP FLASK: DANGER, AS USUAL
    (2001)
    Written and drawn by J. Scott Campbell and Tim Townshend

With Danger Girl..

MORE COMIC BOOKS (BUT THESE ARE APPARENTLY REAL)

  • HIP FLASK: UNNATURAL SELECTION... Buy this comic
    (2002, Active Images)
    Written by Richard Starkings
    Art by Joe Casey & Ladronn

How'd this get in here? This is a real book!

  • HIP FLASK: ELEPHANTMEN
    (2003, Active Images)
    Written by Richard Starkings
    Art by Joe Casey & Ladronn

This is another real book? The second REAL Hip comic. And possibly the first appearance of the Elephantmen.

  • HIP FLASK: MYSTERY CITY... Buy this comic
    (2005, Active Images)
    Three-part mini-series
    48 pages
    Written by Richard Starkings
    Art by Ladronn

Holy shit! A third REAL book! In this one, a pulverized body sets Hip Flask off on the trail to more action! Thrills! Excitement! Heavy private eye action just like you like it!

  • "The Big Here and The Long Now" (Part One) (July 2005)

  • ELEPHANTMEN
    (2006-17, Image Comics)
    Series
    80 issues
    Written by Richard Starkings
    Art: Jose Ladronn, Moritat, Ian Churchill, Fiona Meng, Tim Sale, Alex Medellin, Michael Coulthard

  • ELEPHANTMEN WAR TOYS
    (2007, Image Comics)
    Mini-series
    Three issues
    Written by Richard Starkings
    Art: Moritat

ALSO OF INTEREST

  • COMIC BOOK LETTERING... Buy this book
    (2003)
    Written by Richard Starkinga and John "JG" Roshell

Another real book! Includes tips on lettering and a Hip Flask short story by Kurt Busiek and Stuart Immonen, lots of the Hip artwork done over the years, and eight pages of a Hip strip drawn by Ian Churchill...

RELATED LINKS

The official site. Sample covers, excerpts from stories, lots of great art by some of the best in the biz. Now folded into the Elephantmen site.

Once the only place in the world to check out Hip's latest adventures, but since the big guy got his own site, this has gone back to being a place where Hip's creators sell their wares. But, Good God a Mighty, what awesome typefaces!

Going to the dogs, the cats and worse.

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. Thanks to Jan Long for the lead.


| Home | Detectives A-L M-Z | Film | Radio | Television | Web Comics | Comics | FAQs | Search |
| Trivia | Authors | Hall of Fame | Mystery Links | Bibliography | Glossary | Advertising |
| This Just In... | Word on the Street | Non-Fiction | Fiction | Staff | The P.I. Poll |

Drop a dime. Your comments, suggestions, corrections and contributions are always welcome.
"...and I'll tell you right out that I'm a man who likes talking to a man that likes to talk."

Copyright 1998-2017, thrillingdetective.com. All rights reserved.
Web site by The Thrilling Detective Web Guy.