Hop Harrigan (also known as The Guardian Angel and Black Lamp) first appeared in All American Comics #1 created by Jon Blummer (Fighting Yank, Little Boy Blue) as one of the first successful aviation heroes in comic history (Hop appeared after Tailspin Tommy, Barney Baxter, Connie Kurridge and others). Hop Harrigan was technically not a true superhero (as he had no costume or special powers) though he did meet the Justice Society of America in All-Star Comics #8, and he did eventually become a superhero from All American Comics #25 (April 1941) to #28 (July) as the costumed Guardian Angel.
Hop Harrigan's story begins with him being raised by his neighbor, who tried to gain legal guardianship of him in order to try to obtain Hop's inheritance (of which he was successful). Hop Harrigan had been orphaned by his father, a legendary pilot, who disappeared on a flight to South America to see his wife. By the time Hop Harrigan had almost grown, his neighbor tried to destroy a biplane that once had been in the possession of Hop's father. Seeing this, Hop angrily knocked the old man to the ground and escaped in the biplane, not planning to return. He arrived at an airport where he saved the life of mechanic Tank Tinker, who became his friend and companion. Tank gave Harrigan his nickname when he said, "Some hop, Harrigan." Later, Hop, Tank and Prop Wash (the pilot who accidentally endangered Tank), along with help from an heiress (who later became Hop's girlfriend), set up the All-American Aviation Company, a company that dealt with a variety of exciting adventures. By the time World War II came, as with most other comics of the time, the Hop Harrigan comic started to have World War II themed adventures as Hop, Tank and Prop joined the US Army Air Corps in service of the war effort.
Shortly after the war the character appeared for a while under the alias The Black Lamp.
Radio and film
On radio, Hop Harrigan aired from August 31, 1942 to February 6, 1948. The series began on the ABC Blue network and moved October 2, 1946, to the Mutual Broadcasting System. Charles Stratton appeared in the title role with Ken Lynch as Tank. Lynch was later replaced by Jackson Beck, voice actor for Bluto (Popeye), King Leonardo and Perry White (Superman). Mitzi Gould played Hop's girlfriend, Gail Nolan. One of the writers for this series was noir novelist David Goodis.
The Hop Harrigan (serial) 15-chapter movie serial (March 28, 1946) was produced by Columbia Pictures with William Bakewell as Hop and Sumner Getchell as Tank.
Soon after the movie serial, Hop Harrigan as well as other comic series from All-American Comics were purchased by DC Comics, a publisher that had close relations to All-American Publications ever since it debuted. DC Comics continued to publish the Hop comics in All-American Comics until the 99th issue in July 1948, when the aviation adventure genre was abandoned in favor of a Western theme and Harrigan was replaced with Johnny Thunder. In the end, Hop Harrigan became mostly forgotten by the majority of comic book fans, though other All-American characters including The Flash, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman would remain popular for years to come.
The opening to the radio serial was as follows:
"CX4 to Control.....CX4 to Control......This is Hop Harrigan....coming in" to the roar of a prop fighter plane. From the control tower: "Control Tower to CX4: Wind southeast. Ceiling 1200. All clear."
The fictional CX4 aircraft was the inspiration for an experimental aircraft design built in 2004, the Thatcher CX4.