Mention Red Ryder and most people (my age anyway) will think about the Daisy Red Ryder Air Rifle -- the one that was featured in Jean Shepherd's A Christmas Story. But there is much more to Red Ryder. You betchum.
Red Ryder was created by Fred Harman, first in a series of short stories. (I have no idea what the stories were titled, nor where or when they were published -- if they were published at all. There is no listing on Fiction Mags Index for instance.) In 1938, Harman and Stephen Slesinger brought Red Ryder to the comic strips, lasting until 1965. A series of 28 movie serials and films featuring the character appeared from 1940 through 1950 from two studios. The Red Ryder radio show began in 1942, initially airing three nights a week (Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, at 7:30 p.m.) The show lasted until 1951, when radio began to give way to television. Alas for Red Ryder, the two pilots produced did not lead to a series.
He fared much better in comic books. Beginning in 1940, Red Ryder appeared in various comics books, as well as his own title through 1957. Since then he has been reprinted in 7 languages and unauthorized translations have appeared in 30 languages. From 1954 to 1984, Red Ryder Enterprises authorized 474 editions of Red Ryder comics in 21 countries.
Then there were all the tie-ins...the Daisy rifles already mentioned, "toys, novelties, gifts, accesories, sporting goods, and rugged outdoor, work, and play clothing," as well as school supplies, lunch kits, and Red Ryder character hardware. The Red Ryder marketing machine expanded throughout North America to Europe, Latin America, Egypt, India, and Japan. J. C. Penney stores had a special section called the Red Ryder Corral, which not only sold the products, but also held educational and sportsmanship contests, personal; appearances, and special events.
At one time Red Ryder was more popular than the Lone Ranger. It should be noted that neither western hero ever shot anyone; when a gun was fired to was to knock the neer-do-well's weapon out of his hand.
The radio episode linked below aired on April 26, 1942. Reed Hadley played the title role and Horace Murphy and Arthur Q. Bryan played Red's sidekicks. Red Ryder's Indian companion/ward Little Beaver was played by either Tommy Cook or Frank Breser (They alternated the role during 1942).