Around the time I became a fan of the newly refurbished Hardy Boys, there were other simulacra of which I was unaware. One of those carbons was Brains Benton.
A few years after the books first appeared in 1959, veteran cartoonist Tom Gill partnered with a writer (probably not Brains creator Charles Spain Verral) to create a comic strip based on the popular juvenile books.
None of the syndicates opted to take on the strip (ergo “Never Was”), but Mike Lynch dug up three weeks of the proposal, one week finished and two weeks in pencilled stage.
The other attempt at a detective strip came maybe a decade or two* later, and wasn’t quite so serious.
Longtime New York Daily News cartoonist/illustrator Bill Kresse teamed up with gagman Paul Bernstein and came up with what seems to be a mash-up of Inspector Clouseau and Maxwell Smart: Inspector Fondue.
*Heritage Auctions dates these strips “c. 1960s” but I see them as years later. The drawing here is so loose it must be later in Bill’s career. Those interviews in the seventies and early eighties courtesy of Mike Lynch (linked above) don’t mention Paul Bernstein. However Bernstein, paired with Kresse, comes up in connection with another unsuccessful attempt called “That’ll Be The Day” (features scenarios such as a collection agency threatening not to send any more payment notices, a waiter refusing to take a tip, a doctor cancelling his golf game to make a house call…). That was a 1984 attempt. So I’m partial to c. 1980s rather than the Sixties.