Fred Harman was seeking a syndication for a western comic strip he had called "Bronc Peeler" when in 1938 he met an entrepeneur who had a merchandising scheme. Stephen Slesinger lined up licensing in all possible media and together they created Red Ryder.
I'm not a fan of creating just for a sale, but Harman was such a fluid and natural artist, that what was born ended up being more than that and was actually art.
For the next 2 decades or better, Red Ryder's comic strip was published in newspapers across the country, there were comic books, Big Little Books, a radio show, a TV show, a movie serial, a string of B Western features and every toy you could imagine!
Even now, 7 decades later (thanks to the perennial "A Christmas Story") EVERYONE wants a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas!
Fred was well paid for his work and paid us well with the gorgeous ink work on his strip. One of the few times when work-for-hire suited both ends of the spectrum.
Fred retired from the strip in 1962 and went to spend the rest of his life (he lived until 1982) in Albequerque, New Mexico, painting the west he loved.
He had the knack of a real western artist, showing the grittiness and hardships of western life, all the while infecting his subjects with the humor and humanity that it took to live there.
Take some time out to visit Fred's Museum's web page here, and if you ever visit New Mexico, stop on in.