Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Dixie Dugan and Renny McEvoy

Dixie Dugan was based on the books by J. P. McEvoy, "Showgirl" and "Showgirl in Hollywood".
McEvoy sold the motion picture rights to First National, and then the musical play rights to Ziegfeld.
So the theme was hot, McEvoy had written  comic strips before, back when he worked for the
Chicago Tribune, so why not another comic strip?

Showgirl started on October 21, 1929, changing its name to Dixie Dugan on December 23, 1929
It lasted up to October 8, 1966.  The theme of the strip changed from "show girl" to "working girl" in April of 1930.         The author of the strip was credited to J.P. McEvoy from 1929 to 1955, and then
Renny McEvoy from 1955 to 1966. Art credited to John H. Striebel. Sunday added Feb 5, 1933.
Topper strip was Good Deed Dotty.  Various artists assisted throughout the time, with Al Barre taking over the art sometime in the 1960s.

There are various articles and websites out on J. P. McEvoy, including Wikipedia, so I'll let you go and look on your own.  Just keep in mind that he shaved around 5 years off his age (yes, even in the 1920s, being old
was old fashioned), and that J. P. was a story teller and not a historian.

But who was Renny McEvoy?

Besides Dixie, we know that he wrote some other comic strips:
Hollywood Johnnie (1945 to 1948) also known as Hollywood Merry-Go-Round, and Screen Girl. Ths small strip on top of  the Sunday was  Movie Struck (1946 to 1948). Art by Jim Pabain, animator.
Merrie Chase (1949 to 1950)  art by Carl Hubbell, then Paul Reinman, both were known for their comic book work.

Rennie McEvoy (1905 - 1987)  was born Reynold Thomas Wurnelle, both parents were actors, his mother,  married J. P. McEvoy in 1915, when  Rennie was 10, and they  divorced in 1922   .
He lived with his grandparents in Freemont Ohio in the 1910s-1920s.  He attended Miami University in Ohio, for two years, leaving the school in 1929, when he was unable to afford the next year.
He first went to NYC, when he had minor roles in radio and Broadway.  He then returned home to Chicago,  then in 1931 moved to Elyra, Ohio, where his brother lived, and took a job as a clerk.
   An article syndicated in 1943, states that he started scripting Dixie Dugan 11 years earlier (1932),
Sometime between 1931 and 1939, he took his former stepfather's last name.
In 1939, Rennie appeared in the Broadway musical, Stars In Your Eyes, as a soundman, singing along with
Jimmy Durante, and Ethel Merman. Book of the show was by J.P. McEvoy.

He started to appear in bit parts in movies in 1941, moving into larger parts by the mid 1940s.
Newspapers in 1946 report that he had written for the Charlie McCarthy radio show.
A movie star, named Reynold Wurnelle shows up in Dixie Dugan in September 1949, where it is
believed he plans to marry Dixie.
He continued in movie and television, even after the end of Dixie Dugan, up to 1969.


Monday, July 30, 2012

Eastern Distributing Corporation

The American News Company controlled distribution for periodicals for the time period after the Civil War and up to World War One.  They had a monopoly of services at train stations and on trains, at the time the USA's most popular method of long distance transportation.   Around the time of the Great War, independent distriubtors started up, from Fawcett, Popular Science & McCalls, MacFadden, and others.
   And among the others was Eastern.  Eastern is best known for two reasons: it was owned by Paul Sampliner and distributed items by Harry Donenfeld, both later to be owners of DC Comics. It also provided employment for many folks who later started their own publishing company.

Eastern Distributing Corporation  1924 - October 1932
Paul H. Sampliner owner   1924 - 1932

1926 - advertises that Eastern distributed nationally.
1927 - Address was 45 W. 45th St. NYC
1928 - distributed 28 magazines
Feb 1929    Pilot  Charles A. Lindbergh takes letters and magazines from Eastern to Admiral Byrd via airplane.
November 1931: moved to 305 East 46th Street, NYC  (The Albano Building) 
January 1932  Michigan Courts ruled that the Michigan News Company  (Lightstone) did not have to pay Eastern for the magazines that had been furnished to them, because some of them were obscene and illegal under Michigan law.  Eastern would have to refund the deposit money.

 March 2,  1932 A Michigan appeals court ruled that the deposit money  could be used to pay for part of the non-obscene magazines, if a new trial indicated it should and indicated what percentage of the books had been legal under Michigan law.

July 14, 1932 contract signed with Mystery League to distribute their books.

October 1932 declared bankruptcy

May 1938 Last legal charge against P.H. Sampliner (for alleged fraud in the Eastern bankruptcy case) dismissed.

Steller  -Hugo Gernsbeck's publications   -1932
Popular Publications (pulp chain)             -1932   (probably from the beginning in 1930)
Shade (men's magazines)                         -1932
Mystery League  (books)                        -1932
Frank G. Menke   (books)             -1931 - 
Harry Donenfeld's magazines   

Brief Stories          - 1928 -
Plain Talk              -1932
Child Play              -1927-
Yankee Humor (Consolidated Features)     1927 - 1928

Paul H. Sampliner, President 1924 - 1932
Harold Hersey, General Editorial Advisory 1928
Robert T. Martin,  "an official"   1929
Warren Angel, Secretary and General Manager   - 1929
       (later with Kable, Ace, & Comic Corporation of America)
Charles Dreifus Jr, Secretary and Treasurer   - 1930 - 1932
     note correct spelling, it's not Dreyfus.

it is believed that Martin Goodman and Louis Silberkleit worked for Eastern, both up to 1932.
Silberkleit,     possibly,  as a regional supervisor.

I do plan to update this, as more information comes out.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ramona Fradon art at St. John ?

Quite a longtime ago, I read a St. John comic with artwork with artwork that seemed to be Ramona Fradon.  At the time i was an editor at Jerry Bails' Who's Who of American Comic Books.  Since she had not been known to have worked for St. John, I asked Jerry.  and he responded that her style was so unique that if I thought it was her, it was.      I later got rid of the issue, and then folks started wondering.  She denied she drew for St. John, but an editor recalled her work there.
              And now decades later, I again  see the story in question once again : So is this Ramona Fradon art?
If not - who is it?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Phil Sturm, golden age comics writer and editor

Philip H. "Phil" Sturm (1913 -1999)  was a first generation American who was born in Brooklyn NY and during his 4 year comics career,  lived with his parents and sister on Bayview Ave.    His  entire comics career was for Harry "A" Chesler. Chesler was a service or shop providing comics for other publications, and then his own comics.  Sturm begain writing for Chesler  in 1939, and then in 1941, he became Chesler's editor.  He served in the military from January 1, 1943 to March 21, 1946. Upon his discharge from the military, he chose to work for the army in a civilian capacity for the next 30 years,  he also married, and raised a family. For the last years of his life, he lived on Staten Island.  

The 1940 census reports that, at age 26,  he was a magazine writer, and also was a Junior in College.
He reported that he worked 40 hours a week, and made $750 for the year, the equivalent of $6150 in 2010.  Let's hope he got a good raise the next year when he became an editor.

the stories below are only those that he is credited for, however this is far from all that he
actually wrote for Chesler.  Did he write some of the other Chesler material that showed
up in the Marvel (Martin Goodman) Comics?    "Probably" is the best we can say at this point.

Detective Eye #2 December 1940 Don Rance and the Mysticape -6p - Red Holmdale, art

editor:  Dynamic Comics #1 -3, 8      October 1941 - c1942/3
editor:  Punch Comics #1 - 2            December 1941 - Feb. 1942
editor:  Scoop Comics #1 -3             November 1941 - March 1942
editor:   Yankee Comics #1 - 4          September 1941 - March 1942

All Heroes Comics #1 March 1943 text page

   Blue Beetle story reported

Blue Beetle #15 October 1942  Blue Beetle - 8p  Phil Bard, art

Daring Mystery Comics # 3 April 1940 Dale of the FBI - 8p - Gus Rica?,  art
Mystic Comics #5  March 1941 The Terror - 7p, Syd Shores, art (art corrections by George Klein)
USA Comics #1  August 1941  Mr. Liberty  10p Syd Shores, art (inks by George Klein?)
USA Comics #2 Nov. 1941     Major Liberty  7p Syd Shores, art (corrections by Klein?)
USA Comics #3  Jan. 1942       Major Liberty  7p Syd Shores, art
USA Comics #4 May 1942       Major Liberty 7p  Syd Shores, art (inks by Shores?)

MLJ - Archie
Blue Ribbon Comics #3  January 1940 text page
Pep Comics #1   Jan 1940 - Kayo Ward  6p   Bob Wood, art
Pep Comics #2   Feb 1940 - Kayo Ward  6p  Bob Wood, art (script not confirmed)
Pep Comics #3   Mar 1940 - Kayo Ward 6p  Bob Wood, art  (script not confirmed)
Pep Comics #4  April 1940 - Kayo Ward 6p  Bob Wood, art (script not confirmed)

Syd Shores has stated that the Terror in Mystic Comics #5 was his first pencil and ink job, which he did
while on staff for the Chesler shop.   Dr Michael J. Vassallo, an expert on the art styles of George Klein,  believes that Klein inked the stories indicated.   Klein did not work for the Chesler Shop, which makes it possible that Klein's contributions were done later, and especially for Marvel (AKA Timely-Atlas).          

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Timely text writers - prewar

Most folks know that the early Marvel Comics (AKA Timely) were produced for Martin Goodman by Funnies, Inc - Lloyd Jacquet Shop.   Much questions remained about editorship of the first year (November 1939 to November 1940), did Jacquet edit that, did Goodman or one of his brothers, or one of the editors of his magazine line?  And what do we mean by editing in this context?
   I won't attempt to answer that question!  But i will look at the early text writers to see if we can figure out who they were and what connection they had with either Goodman or Jacquet.

Beach Allen    text pages dated August 1940 - no information

Russell Arden Bankson ( 1889 -1975)  text pages dated February 1940. Novelist, short story writer, and newspaper editor. He lived in the Spokane Washington area during 1940.  wrote for Dell Comics in 1929.
His files include letters from Goodman's pulp editor, Robert O. Erisman.

S. S. Bedford     text page dated  June 1940. Only other known credit was in a Goodman pulp magazine in August 1937

John H. Compton (1900 - ) text pages dated from July to September 1940. former pulp writer, editor at Jacquet

David C. Cooke (1911-2000) Text stores dated December 1939 to January 1941.  First published work appeared in September 1938, and in the early days he specialized in aviation material.  At Jacquet at this time.. He had graduated high school  Spring 1939.  Continued as a full time writer up to 1970.

Jack D'arcy (1902-1968) text pages dated   June 1940 - October 1940.Pen name for D'arcy Champion.
Worked for the Jacquet shop during this time. Well known pulp writer, best known for creating the Phantom Detective. (He has two stories in the first Phantom Detective Magazine, and John H. Compton has one story there).

Rex Evans  text pages dated May 1940.  This is apparently a pen or house name, Evans worked only for the Goodman magazines from 1936 to 1940, and 1943. 

Ray Gill  (1918 - 1984) text pages dated  November 1939 -  June 1941, worked for Jacquet during this time.

T. K. Hawley    text page dated June 1940  again house or pen name, only worked for Goodman's pulps 1936-1942.

Eddie Herron (1917 - 1966)   text page dated April 1940 possibly from the Chesler shop, but maybe freelance.  Herron had a long history working in comic, from 1940 to 1942 has an editor at Fawcett.

Bill Jay    text page in Fall 1941. No information.

Stan Lee   (1922 - )  text pages from May 1941 - December 1941.  Lee was the nephew of Martin Goodman's wife, and started writing for editor Joe Simon, and then became editor of the line around cover date February 1942.  He remained active in comics up to (at least) 2012.

Andrew McWhiney (1911-1956)  Text pieces from  April 1940 to   Winter 1941/2,   Apparently wrote through  the Jacquet shop, as he had material published in the Centaur books.  Newspaper reporter.

James P. Olsen  text page  April 1940         Yes, Jimmy Olsen did indeed write for Marvel.  He was a prolific and well known  pulp writer from 1929 to 1955.

W. Peters text page  September 1940

Mickey Spillane (1918 - 2006)  text page   Winter 1941; in the Jacquet shop.  He joined the military on December 8, 1941.  Best seller author of  "I, The Jury".

Leo Stalnaker    text page in April 1940.     Wrote pulps from 1936-1942.   The Leo Stalnaker Jr , who was a professional writer after the war,  would have been too young (12) in 1936 to likely be the pulp and comics writer.  

Irving Werstein (1914-1971)   text page December 1941 worked for the Jacquet shop. Continued a career in comic books up to 1955, when he wrote for EC Comics.