Re- RARA-AVIS: Top 100 Hard-Boiled Characters

Date: 23 Mar 2002

Since Joe Friday, the hero of radio, television, and film is not eligible, I nominate Joe Friday, the hero of one novel (CASE No. 561) by Richard S. Prather, one novel (DRAGNET 1968) by David H. Vowell, two novels
(THE CASE OF THE COURTEOUS KILLER and THE CASE OF THE CRIME KING) and one short story collection (DRAGNET) by Richard Deming, and one syndicated newspaper strip
(DRAGNET), to say nothing of being the subject of an Edgar-nominated (and, come May, perhaps Edgar-winning) book in the critical/biographical category, MY NAME'S FRIDAY by Michael Hayde.

Really, leaving him off of the list just because he was originally created for the broadcast medium is silly. DRAGNET's influence, not only on television, but on prose fiction is obvious and undeniable. The term "police procedural" was COINED to describe DRAGNET. If you doubt Webb's influence on the form, check out any 87th Precinct novel, particularly the earliest ones which were written at the height of DRAGNET's popularity. Hell, the opening of every 87th Precinct book is deliberately evocative of DRAGNET's opening. Friday is a hugely important character in the history of hard-boiled crime fiction and to deny him a chance to even compete for a place on the list because of the medium he originated in simply makes no sense.


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