' The name is Scratch! I'm a private investigator, Peter Scratch. Funny name, Scratch? I guess so. Characters who'll do anything for a laugh call me Pete The Itch! They do it once - Never again. You've got to remember, scratch also means dough, or the devil. Remember that. '
You're loving it already, ain't'cha?
Peter Scratch was a newspaper strip that ran from 1965 to 1967 which was written by Elliot Caplin, and drawn by legendary Golden Age artist Lou Fine. It was reprinted in The Menomonee Falls Gazette in the '70's, so it sort of skirts the Bronze Age, and anyway, it's Lou Fine so the rules don't count.
Scratch is a great character, and Fine draws him with a real lived in face, the classic hardboiled, downbeat private eye, while his ongoing narration is as perfectly hip and cynical as a good detective strip should be. There's also the added twist that he lives with his mum Lucretia, who's at least twice as tough as he is.
Not that you'd wanna be invited round there for dinner, the way these two smoke.
Apparently, Neal Adams also worked on this strip, not sure if he took over from Fine or if he ghosted a bit, but there are a few patented Adams faces and poses even in this introductory story.
The dialogue zips, the art's superb, and if they'd made a movie of it at the time, it'd be on BBC2 this Sunday afternoon.