I used to do a column for CBM on short-lived titles of the GA---your basic 3-5 issues...Here for your view is, in my opinion, the rarest of these short lived titles....Wow, What a Magazine from 1936 featuring the first work of Eisner, Bailey, Briefer........a short piece I did (as my first CBM article) is at the end of the illustrations....Remember, in part, it is all about the history...jon
#1 (Dick Briefer cover)
#2 (Will Eisner cover)
#3 (Will Eisner cover)
#4 (Dick Briefer cover)
WOW...WHAT A MAGAZINE!
One of the rarest of all comic titles is Wow What a Magazine! This rarity, perhaps, explains a lack of appreciation of this short-lived title. In 1936 Wow joined the ranks of New Comics, More Fun and Funny Pages, as a publisher of original material. Published by John Henle (actually a shirt manufacturer who tried to make it in the comic biz) and edited by Samuel Maxwell Iger, this “comic magazine” only lasted four issues (July, August, September and November). Except for the inclusion of some reprint strips, the format of this 52 page, 8” by 11” “magazine” was similar to that seen in New Fun. It included the usual array of single, double or triple page “comic” and adventure stories, as will as celebrity pieces, hobby tips and extended text stories (Want to learn about the shot-lived Texan Navy? Check out issue #1). And like New Fun, Wow, whether because of its size, mix of features, lack of color, or only 52 pages for the dime, never was able to generate enough interest to survive. Such brevity would normally not be worth of commanding any attention. However, despite the shortcomings of the form and content, this title contains the first works of some of the giants of the comic art form.
Most notable in the series are the several features drawn by William Eisner under his real name or several pseudonyms such as “Erwin or “William Rensie”. These features included the adventurer “Captain Scott Dalton” (issues 1-4), “ The Flame” (issues 1-4), a “bold colorful figure who dashed through the 16th century” (a character to continue as “The Hawk” in the Iger-Eisner issues of Jumbo Comics in 1938), and the comedy-adventure strip, “Harry Karry”, “the famous international detective (issues 2-4).
While the covers to issues 1, 3 and 4 are considered by some to be at best sub-par, issue 2 sported a spectacular Eisner painted cover of Scott Dalton holding a recently fired revolver held over his head with a trail of smoke coming from the tip of the gun. Certainly the cover is more akin to the pulp covers of the day than the hum-drum cartoony comic covers of the day. Eisner certainly gave notice of the greatness that was in store for him in the comic arena.
Bob Kane, before he created “The Batman”, premiered his comic talents in two humor strips, “The Adventures of Hiram Hick in New York” (issues 2-4) and “Life in the Roar” (issues 3 and 4).
Additional features include a gag strip, “Biff and His Pals” by George Brenner (issues 1-4). Brenner would go onto greater “fame” with the creation of the first masked hero in comics, “The Clock”, who would grace the pages of Funny Pages and Funny Picture Stories later in 1936.
Louis Ferstadt, who would go on to draw “The Flash”, “Starman” and “Green Lantern” and eventually be the art director for Fox Comics in the late 1940s, contributed humor strips of “Larry and Tessie” (issues 1-4) and “Sir Hocus Pocus”. (issues 3 and 4).
So too appeared the earliest work of Dick Briefer who would go onto receive notoriety for his rendition of “Frankenstein” in Prize Comics. Briefer contributed the covers for issues 1 and 4 as well as the dramatic rendition of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (issues 3 and 4) which probably was the first evidence of his desire to draw “monstrous” characters. He also contributed a brief humor strip called “Barberania” (issue 4).
Wow also presented a humor strip in it first issue “Smoothie” by Bernard Bailey who was to be the artist for “The Spectre”. He also contributed celebrity portraits for a text article in the first issue.
Several individuals contributed a variety of humor and “forgettable adventure strips (“adventure cartoons” as they were listed in the table of contents by issue 3). The latter included “Tom Sherrill” by Donald Deconn apioneer feature drawn with “stick and building block” figures (issues 1-3), “Space Limited” by Serene Summerfield (issues 1-4) who had the only two page feature in issue 1. (This feature bore a resemblance to the “Space Police” feature that had appeared in New Fun). “Buddy Wilbert” by Joe Henschel (issues 1,3 and 4), a feature which set its hero on the pathe to search for the “Dead Men” which undoubtedly explains the sub-title of this feature- “Beginning his adventures in search of honor, fame and glory among the heroes of all thime,” and “Hidden Gold” by Chuck Thorndike (issues 1-3).
Humor strips were many. Iger contributed his “Pee-wee” in issues 1, 3 and 4. Betty Marion wrote “Jocko” (issues 1-3). The protagonist monkey and elephant bear a striking resemblance to the monkey and elephant that Dick Ryan popularized in his work for National, Comic Magazine and Centaur. Bob Smart contributed “Little Augie” (issues 1-4). While a Louise Maxwell drew “Bargain Bill” for issue 1 (renamed “Brother Bill” in issue 4).
A number of strip reprints appeared. While this type of content was widespread in this time period in Famous Funnies, King Comics and Tip-Top Comics, Wow despite its obvious meager budget, did have some classic strips such as “Fu Manchu”, by Sax Rohmer (issues 1-4), “Popeye” by Segar (issues 2-4); including text articles on the origin of Popeye by Segar in issue 2 and boxer Joe Dempsey writing about “Popeye’s punch” in issue 3), “Tillie the Toiler” by Russ Westover (issue 4), “Mandrake the Magician” by Lee Falk and Phil Davis (issue 4), and, “flash Gordon” by Alex Raymond. (issue 4)
Of some interest is the fact that several of the original features of Wow were reprinted or reworked for the next “big” Iger publication- Jumbo Comics. While it is not of any earth-shattering importance that the “Tom Sherill” feature of issues 1-3 is reprinted in its entirety in Jumbo 1 and that Ed Webster continued his Wow feature of “Fonie Films” (from issues 1-3) in Jumbo, it is far more significant that the first two pages of Briefer’s “Hunchback of Notre Dame” which appear in Jumbo 1 first appeared in Wow 3 and 4 except for a couple of panels. Additionally, Eisner’s feature in Jumbo, “The Hawk” is simply a carry over of the spirit, if not the character of “The Flame” from the pages of Wow. So too did Iger continue his feature of “Pee-Wee” in this later publication. Nor should it be over looked that Bob Kane continued to fuel his interest in comics by continuing to work for Iger in Jumbo by producing “Peter Pupp” and other features.
The run of Wow was extremely brief. But its importance lies in the fact that, in it brief existence, it was the starting point for so many individuals who would go on to be comic greats. Wow. What a magazine!
Loc: Another girl, another planet
My favorite, and one I have three issues of, is the short-lived "Seven Seas Comics." It ran for all of six issues near the end of World War II. Issues one and two had boring and awful pirate coveres, but issues three through six had wonderful Matt Baker South Seas Girl covers. Every issue had Matt Baker art. I won't post covers because I've posted my copies of #3 and #6 all over this place. A full run of Seven Seas is one of my collecting goals. You'd think with only three more to go, it would be easy, but those suckers can get pricey!
My favorite short-lived title? That's easy....Whirlwind Comics. Everything about the GA...unbridled vitality, action and goofiness. Copies purchased 1982, 1991 and 1995. (Beat those bushes)
At the end, I share, again, an article originally done for CBM. Jon
#1 (Larson copy...got it before the marketplace even cared or knew about "Larsons")
Why "fun". Something you plastic fiends will never see now stands revealed: "comic pages"!
Note this is probably, notwithstanding Overstreet, the first full panel interior page in comics.
#2 (Larson copy)
FORGOTTEN FUNNIES : SHORT-LIVED TITLES OF THE GOLDENAGE
Lets start with a basic proposition: Comic collectors are basically completists at heart. However, goldenage collecting can be frustrating from an availability and monetary viewpoint for both the neophyte and experienced collector. Can’t find that last 163 issues of Detective Comics you need? Schomburg Marvel Mystery covers becoming a bit too pricey? Those wonderful Hit Comics by Lou Fine just impossible to find? Well, do I have the thing for you! The multitude of titles that could not even go the distance of ten issues before going kaput.
The late 1930s and early 1940s was full of companies attempting to carve a niche in the fast-growing comic industry. Some titles (and publishers for that matter) vanished before readers even knew they existed. This recurrent (hopefully) column will dust off the old comic box and resurrect some of these titles for your viewing and, perhaps, collecting pleasure.
Whirlwind Comics, which lasted only three issues, appears to have been the only book produced by Nita Publications. (However, this publication is, at least, editorially and artistically tied to Crash Comics. See below.) Covered dated June, July and September 1940 it contained the standard mix of costume hero, adventure and science fiction stories.
Adventure strips were typified by “Wing Bordon” (“dashing devil may-care ace of the airways”), “Lt. Jim Landis of the U.S. Coast Guard”, “Inspector Blake” (super sleuth of Scotland Yard), “Rex Royce” of the Canadian Mounted Police (“where the only law is the gun”), “Smash Dawson” (crack foreign correspondent and criminologist who fought the yellow menace of the Magic Mandarin), and “Scoop Hanlon” and “Snapper Smith” representing the inquiring newspaper reporters on the domestic front.
“Bruce Barlow Conqueror of Planets” was a science fiction strip set in the future (1980) wherein famed scientist Barlow would confront menaces to Earth whether in the center of the earth, on Venus or on Saturn (a journey he made in order to destroy the “ultra-dissolvo-ray” pointed toward Earth).
However, it is the costume hero, “The Cyclone” who was the lead feature with which this title lived and (apparently) died. (This character and title had no relationship to Cyclone Comics which also was produced in this time period.) As stated in issue one, “The Cyclone is a tornado in human form, who strikes at crime with the speed and force of a hurricane, He moves with the swiftness of the wind, always on the side of law and order.” The Cyclone was Peter Blake who was a great athelete, an expert in jiu-jitsu and circus acrobatics. In his short career, he fought crime (“whenever and wherever I find it”) and spies. Although his costume lacked a certain sophistication (As one young lady remarked in issue 2, “What funny clothes. But he’s handsome.”), the Cyclone was great fun encompassing all the qualities that make the goldenage a joy to read. He was quick with the one-liners and demonstrated reckless abandon in his adventures. The art was great action-packed, characterized by many pages with three, two and, on one occasion, full page art which was extremely rare at this time.
The covers and the Cyclone were drawn by Bert Whitman who had an early and distinguished goldenage career. He was there at the very beginning of comics. His first work, “Judge Perkins”, appeared in New Fun 1 and 2. For a short period of time in the early 1940s he produced a number of features through Whitman Associates, one of the many art shops that sprang up to meet the insatiable demand for original material from the ever-increasing number of comic publishers. His credits include “Strongman” in Crash Comics (Tem Publishing), “Dr. Mortal” in Weird Comics, “Green Hornet” covers and art and several features for Fawcett including “Masterman”. (Is it possible that “Nita” and “Tem” Publications [“Tem” is probably Frank Temerson as from “Ultem” Ullman and Temerson] are an anagram of “Bert Whitman”?)
Although short-lived the three issues of Whirlwind Comics typify the flavor, content and energy of these early comicbook titles.
Quote: the mad hatter!
somewhere around here i have a beat up copy of #2 that i fished out of a dollar bin.
we can deal with that....jon
Claiming to be “a new kind of comic book”, the Mad Hatter fought crime while often composing rhymes. Frankly, there was a bit of spark in
this hero who was happy as a lark. (Sorry) Armed with superb athletic ability and his omni-present hat signal for announcing his prescence, the Mad Hatter took on crime bosses, a criminal who has his brain transferred to a gorilla after he is sent to the electric chair (this story is in issue 2 although it appears on the cover of the first issue), and hoodlums such as Humpty Dumpty.
The Mad Hatter is Grant Richmond who works as an attorney for the law office of Fuddy and Bustle, who are two absent-minded senior partners. They do not even notice when Richmond dashes off to do his Mad Hatter thing. To add to his mystic of “madness”, The Mad Hatter would leave nonsensical notes for the police after capturing a bad guy. (“Though I dream of sweets and stuff, kings and cabbages aren’t enough. I must have danger too.”)
Mad Hatter appeared in an issue dated January-February and September-October 1946. (This later issue in a “no-space” book as it does not appear in the Gerber Photo-Journal.) It was published by O.W. Comic Corp. which was comprised of William Woolfolk and John Oxton. Woolfolk worked on many golden age characters such as Steel Sterling and other MLJ characters, Captain Marvel and other Fawcett characters, and even on Captain America and the Human Torch for Timely, as well as Superman and Batman for DC.
Jon Berk 2005 from part of an article on "One-Shot Wonders"