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Author Topic: Wow - What a Magazine #2 - Introduction  (Read 7598 times)

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Offline Yoc

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Wow - What a Magazine #2 - Introduction
« on: July 09, 2017, 07:57:06 PM » banner48-Wow-Magazine-animate.gif

Hi Gang,
Welcome to a special introduction for a very rare and historically significant comic - rangerhouse and movielover's scan of:
Wow, What a Magazine 02 [Aug'36](edited)(intro added)-c2c -rangerhouse+ML.rar
generously donated for scanning by Phil Barnhart!

It's our hope that bringing this scan to the public might encourage anyone out there in possession of any of the other three issues to scan their books for posterity.  PLEASE consider scanning it for the site or letting a trusted DCM scanner do the work for you. You can use this CONTACT US link if you need help.

And now to the introduction ...

Wow - What an Introduction!

As we look at the history of comics, we can all name any number of books that are historically important, starting with Famous Funnies and continuing on from there.  And with almost all of them, we can think of classic stories that came out of those runs.  But there are a few books scattered here and there that showed up, lasted only briefly, and left without leaving much in the way of classic stories.  It’s only when you look at the people who worked on the book, or where some of the concepts later developed, that you realize their importance. message pictures/WowIntro/01 Circus-King-Scully.jpg
A few examples would be Circus, the Comic Riot, or the trio of books (Detective Dan, Ace King, and Bob Scully) from Humor Publishing Company, [and again, if anyone owns any of those comics PLEASE consider scanning it for the site or letting a trusted scanner do the work for you.] or to name a later example, Harvey Kurtzman’s Help! magazine from Warren.

Wow - What a Magazine! is another one of those books and probably even more obscure than the other three examples I gave.  I very much doubt anybody actually used the subtitle in conversation back when they were making the book, but it’s become common to include it to distinguish the title from the better known Wow Comics from Fawcett that came later in 1940-41. message pictures/WowIntro/02 Wow mags.jpg
Wow - What a Magazine! was a short-lived magazine sized (9.5x11.25”) title from 1936, extremely early in the history of comic books as we normally think of them.  Edited by Jerry Iger, it was a mix of reprint & original material, is noted for early work by a large number creators who went onto great fame.  In just the first issue, creators included Dick Briefer, Jerry Iger, Leo O’Mealia, Will Eisner, Bernard Baily, and Lou Ferstadt.  Bob Kane and Geo Brenner joined with the 2nd issue and Charles Biro seems to have done some of the gag pages at some point according to Bails’ Who’s Who site.

Behind an Eisner cover #2 is a blend of comics, gags, puzzles, hobby pages along with editorial features on E.C. Sager’s ‘Popeye’ and W.C. Fields.  Eisner does ‘The Flame’, ‘Captain Scott Dalton’ and ‘Harry Karry’ a humorous secret agent feature.  Perhaps the most visually interesting features of the book ‘Tom Sherrill’ and ‘Puzzle Phun’ were done by Don DeConn.  Bob Kane does a humour page ‘Hiram Hick in New York’ in each issue.  Kane’s earliest works were gag features hoping as all comics artists did to one day to land a newspaper strip of his own.  So far we only have a scan of Wow #2.  We hope some day to share them all.

Although the magazine was not able to make a go of it several of the features would continue later.  Briefer’s ‘Hunchback of Notre Dame’, Eisner’s ‘The Flame’ (as ‘Hawks of the Sea’) and Iger’s ‘Pee-Wee’ return in early issues of Jumbo Comics. Variations of Baily’s Hollywood bios went on to Fox, DC and Quality titles; Eisner’s ‘Harry Karry’ would be revamped as ‘Agent ZX-5' and pop up in Fox books before eventually finding a home in Quality’s Feature and Smash Comics as the ‘Espionage’ feature.

But the most important thing to come out of the the Wow failure was the partnership two of the creators formed when the title folded; the Eisner and Iger Studio became a vital part of the Golden Age of Comics even after Eisner left to start ‘The Spirit’.

As you look at issue #2 of this series that only survived four issues in 1936 (gone well before Marvel Comics, Action Comics or even the pre-Batman Detective Comics launched) don’t think poorly about the relatively low-key features in it.  Look at it with the eyes of somebody close to the very dawn of comic books as Wow tries and doesn’t quite succeed at creating a new art form.  They learned from their mistakes and their subsequent works created an enormous chunk of the hobby we now love over 80 years later.

(More info on Wow- What a Magazine! can be found in an article by Jon Berk in Comic Book Marketplace #11 (1992), Eisner’s The Dreamer GN (1986), The Spirit of Harry Karry by Joseph Getsinger (2011).  You can also see a video overview of the title on a YouTube video by Hoknes Comics at

A detailed breakdown of Wow- What a Magazine!#3 owned by Ken Quattro with some pictures can be read at this Facebook link -

-OtherEric and Yoc, 2017.07.08
For the Digital  Comic Museum

Digital Comic Museum

Wow - What a Magazine #2 - Introduction
« on: July 09, 2017, 07:57:06 PM »

Offline Yoc

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Re: Wow - What a Magazine #2 - Introduction
« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2017, 07:15:41 PM »
Bonus Artist Mini-Bios for Wow - What A Magazine 2
 message pictures/WowIntro/Bernard Baily.jpg
AlterEgo v3 #109
         BERNARD BAILY (Apr 5, 1916 - Jan 19, 1996) got his start in comics working on Henle’s experimental early comic venture Wow - What a Magazine!  To keep the paychecks coming Baily and others eagerly signed on as freelancers with Eisner & Iger’s newly formed comics production studio once Wow ended.  In 1938, Baily left Eisner & Iger to take a position with the firm that would soon come to be known as DC.  It was during his five years with DC that Baily would leave his mark on the development of comic book superheroes. His co-creations of the Spectre and the Hourman familiar characters to DC fans.

Baily eventually left DC as well around 1943 to found his own comics packaging company called appropriately enough The Baily Publishing Company.  They produced a total of eight comic books under this name.  Four of these books made up a novelty series entitled Illustrated Stories of the Operas which were collected into a book of the same name. 

You can see the covers of Baily’s company at this link -
DCM does not have any of these Opera Comics. If anyone owns this comic PLEASE consider scanning it for the site or letting a trusted scanner do the work for you.  You can use the CONTACT US link if you need help.

Ken Quattro (you see his name here a few times!) has a very informative blog called The Comics Detective which talks in great detail about Baily here -
And another bio here

 message pictures/WowIntro/Brenner, George (1934).jpg
         GEORGE BRENNER (Sep 28, 1908 - Sep 13, 1952) worked for years at Quality as an artist and editor. He is best known today for the creation of the first masked superhero for comic books,  ‘The Clock’ which he used in several different books and publishers.  To a slightly lesser degree, despite its greater importance to comics history, Brenner is also known for being one of the principal editors for Busy Arnold’s Quality Comic Group during their greatest years.
An excellent bio and interview with his son can be found here -

 message pictures/WowIntro/BRIEFER, DICKsm.jpg
DICK BRIEFER (Jan 9, 1915 - Dec 1980) would work for several publishers in all genres but is best known for his creative work in Frankenstein Comics for Prize.  The Comics Code’s introduction saw the death of horror comics and Briefer’s exit from the industry. 

Later in his career he worked for Stan Lee on some Atlas monster books. On the following blog below these you can see some of them and a short lived gag strip he called ‘Want Ad Whoppers’ he did starting in 1955 -
(scroll down to Craig Yoe’s middle section)

 message pictures/WowIntro/Eisner_1941sm.jpg
         WILL EISNER (Mar 6, 1917 - Jan 3, 2005) is a legend among comics makers and collectors. Some months after the Wow..Magazine failure he stared the Eisner & Iger shop with Jerry Iger and $15 and supply finished art for Fox, Fiction House, Harvey and Quality.  Eisner would sell his half to Iger and partner with Quality Comics publisher ‘Busy’ Arnold.  They signed papers Jan 20, 1941. Each had co-ownership of two new properties: Uncle Sam Quarterly and Army And Navy Comics later retitled Military Comics as well as a comic supplement for newspapers starring ‘The Spirit’.  You can read some colourful letters to Eisner from Arnold in Ken Quattro’s blog (yes, again, it’s an amazing blog!) -

Eisner was conscripted in May, 1942.  His ‘Spirit’ was popular enough to cross over briefly into TV in a 1948 series and a made-for-TV movie in 1987. The Frank Miller feature film in 2008 sank like a stone.

A long rumoured radio program based on the Spirit sections was finally confirmed in 2013.  The first season lasted from Oct 26, 1940 to May, 1941 with scripts adapted by Enid Hager from stories of the Sunday comics.  'Mr Mystic' stars in at least one episode of his own.  'Lady Luck' has never been confirmed.  A second season started Sep 6, 1941 ending around the time Eisner left for the service in 1942.  So far no recordings have turned up of the radio programs.

Later in his career Eisner created a text book on the making of comics as well as several award winning graphic novels right up until his death in 2005.  An excellent bio on him can be found on his own site here -

He talks about his earliest days in comics in the  Jack Kirby Collector #16 (1997) here -
as well as in an LA Times interview from 2001 here -

 message pictures/WowIntro/FERSTADT, LOUsm.jpg
LOUIS GOODMAN FERSTADT (Oct 7 1900 - Aug 1954)  began doing comic work sometime around 1926 with a strip called 'The Kids on Our Block' in the New York Evening Graphic.    He produced work for Eisner & Iger but also for Emanuel Demby’s small studio and Lloyd Jacquet’s higher profile shop, Funnies Inc. 

Eventually he launched his own shop in 1942, Ferstadt Studio, noted as being the house that gave both Harvey Kurtzman and L. B. Cole their starts.  He is best known as a fine artist and muralist who did work for the WPA and who created murals at the RCA Building and the Eighth Street Subway at the time of the classic 1939 New York World's Fair.  He additionally drew a regular comic strip for the leading US Communist newspaper, the Daily Worker.  A short bio is up here -

 message pictures/WowIntro/Fine, Lou photo sm.jpg
LOU FINE (Nov 26, 1914 - Jul 24, 1971) was considered to have been the king of comic artists in his day, commanding among the highest rates in the field after making his name as a cover artist for Eisner & Iger. Fine’s skills as an artist were admired just as much by publishers and other creators as they were by the kids who were shelling out their dimes for his work.  Both Simon and Kirby listed him as their favorite comic book artist of them all, and Will Eisner considered him to be the industry’s pre-eminent draftsman.  There can be no greater testimony to Fine’s art than that. 

As the most important artist to his studio, Fine was reserved for the most important books of the studio’s biggest clients, and there is a good argument for stating that his work made Fox and Quality the early industry successes that they were.

He would leave comics in 1944, making the move into the more profitable field of Sunday Section advertising comics.  Starting out at Johnstone and Cushing then starting his own company with Don Komisarov. He had many accounts, but his two most enduring were the series he did for Philip Morris and the ‘Sam Spade’ strip for Wildroot hair cream.  Later Fine drew the comic strips ‘Taylor Woe’ (1949), ‘Adam Ames’ (1959), and ‘Peter Scratch’ (1965), but would not return to the comic book field until 1967.  He would produce only one work that year and that was it for the industry’s first superstar.

   message pictures/WowIntro/Iger, Jerry 1972.jpg
            S.M. ‘JERRY’ IGER (Aug 22, 1903 – Sep 5, 1990)  Like a couple others that worked with him on Wow – What a Magazine! series, editor Iger was also a self-taught working artist that had already been published many times.  He had produced numerous advertising works from 1920-1929.  He was a news cartoonist for the New York American in 1925, and had a syndicated strip entitled ‘The Gang’ that ran from Sep 16, 1927 to Jun 28, 1928, the same year that he got married.  His first work in comic books was in the form of gag strips for Famous Funnies, beginning in issue #9 (1935).

With the end of Wow..Magazine!, Iger and Will Eisner join in late 1936 to form Eisner & Iger, keeping many of the personnel from the failed publication to help them supply work to Fox Comics, Fiction House, Quality Comics and others. Iger would continue to package comics as the S. M. Iger Studio after the split. He also started the small Phoenix Features newspaper syndicate.  Action Play-Books, an imprint of Iger’s, put out several children’s books in 1937. He closed the comics studio in 1955 and served as an art director for the comic publisher Ajax-Farrell Publications until 1957, whereupon he moved into the more lucrative field of commercial advertising artwork.  Iger tells a very different version of how the Eisner & Iger shop started at this link - and has a profile here -
You can compare the different versions in this Wiki page -

   message pictures/WowIntro/kane-tall-sm.jpg
BOB KANE (Oct 24, 1915 – Nov 3, 1998) will be known to most here for creating the ‘Bat-Man’ with Bill Finger.  Before that he was trying to create the next Mickey Mouse and get rich in syndication.  He stuck with Eisner & Iger for a while doing mostly humour fillers like ‘Peter Pupp’ before his move to DC in 1939 or so.  He did land a couple newspaper strips but none hit big.  His ‘Peter Pupp’ (1937-39), ‘The Little Major’ (1939-40), 'Jest Laughs' (1939), and of course his ‘Batman and Robin’ (1943-1946).  Kane had used ghost artists on his successful character’s stories almost since its very beginning, but he left the comic book work entirely to his ghosts to allow him the necessary time to produce the character’s newspaper strips. 

In 1966 Kane retired from DC Comics, choosing to focus on fine art.  He got a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame in 2015 which I’m sure he would have loved.  His professional and personal reputations have both been slipping terribly over the last 50 years, but that’s something that need not be discussed here.  Here is a link to a letter that he wrote to Biljo White’s Batmania fanzine in 1965 that claimed he was the sole creator of Batman and his many supporting characters –

   message pictures/WowIntro/Dic Loscalzo1931sm.jpg
            DOMINICK ‘DIC’ LOSCALZO (Mar 5, 1896 - Jan 31, 1945)(Artist on the Trick Cartooning how-to as well as S’Fact bios page in Wow..#2) Oddly his name doesn’t appear on the Bails Project. Dic was a new name to me but luckily a nice bio of his career is up on Stripper’s Guide here -

Self-taught he was advertising his caricature skills in magazines before signing up for service in WWI where he worked on the camp paper eventually becoming the art director. In 1920 he listed himself as a cartoonist in the census running Modern Cartoon Service which offered a how-to course as well as caricatures. He would write a number of such how-to books with titles like Cartoon Stunts (1924), Fundamentals of Cartooning by Dic (1931)
He developed a strip ‘On the Links’ for the Wheeler-Nicholson Syndicate which he collected into a book in 1926.  Sometime in the 1920‘s Loscalzo adopted the name ‘Dic’. He also did ‘Oddities of the News’ from March 19, 1937 to February 25, 1938.

On Loscalzo’s World War II draft card, his employer was “Izner & Iger, 202 E 44th St, NYC”. Although Eisner and Iger parted ways in 1939, that was the business name Loscalzo remembered.  His last published work was for Jerry Iger’s Action Play Books imprint in 1944. Loscalzo illustrated the children’s book, Chimpsey at Play, which was written by Ruth A. Roche.

   message pictures/WowIntro/O'Mealia-bumsm.jpg
1955 (C) New York Daily News
             LEO O’MEALIA (Mar 31, 1884 - May 7, 1960)  was the artist for the ‘Fu Manchu’ feature in Wow..Magazine #2 (although it’s likely a reprint of his earlier Bell strip).  O’Mealia was another veteran artist that is not well remembered today but who produced a notable amount of work in his time.  His early feature work included:  ‘Andy Handy’, ‘Barry O'Neill’, ‘Bob Merritt and his Flying Pals’, ‘Dr. Fu Manchu’, and ‘Inspector Donald and Bobby’, but it is his cover work for which he is most respected.  Always done in a pulpish style that incorporated classical composition elements to best present his generic action themes, the artist produced the early non-Superman covers for Action Comics, as well as many for Adventure Comics, More Fun Comics, and Detective Comics. His subjects were those that 1930’s audiences found to be the most exciting—adventurers, big-game hunters, nefarious bandits, angry African tribesmen, explorers, and soldiers of fortune—all would work their ways into O’Mealia’s covers repeatedly.

Lambiek covers O’Mealia’s career well, touching upon his work in the newspapers from 1909 to 1933 including  ‘Sherlock Holmes’ (1930-31) and ‘Fu-Manchu’ (1931-33).  He jumped to the fledgling comic book field 1933, beginning with his earliest assignments with Chesler Studios and continuing through his days with early DC. Lambiek’s O’Mealia bio can be found at -

Still, if O’Mealia isn’t remembered by most of the comic fans of today he is certainly well remembered for his work in the field of sports cartooning.  At age 59 O’Mealia returned to newspaper cartooning, drawing sports cartoons for The Daily News from 1943 until the time of his death in 1960. He always signed his name “By Leo” and put his trademark small lion in the final panel of every cartoon.  He’s considered one of the “Big Three” of that industry, capping the field’s trinity of Mullin, Darvas, and O’Mealia, all of whom have been immortalized in The National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.  Here’s a 2003 Daily News column by Bill Gallo recalling O’Mealia fondly –

   message pictures/WowIntro/SSummerfield-sig.jpg
SERENA 'SERENE’ SUMMERFIELD (Aug 9, 1885 - Jul 1966) did the interesting ‘Space Ltd.’ in our issue of Wow..Magazine #2.  She started her art career by beginning to work as a wallpaper designer in 1910. Comic Historian Ken Quattro, who did a great blog post on Summerfield (, tells us by that 1920 she and her brother Jerome were listed in that year’s census as “reproductional artists”. Five years later the census listed Summerfield as a “poster artist” and her illustrations had already graced businessman Saunders Norvell’s book, 40 Years of Hardware (1924).   

‘Summerfield’s first work to appear in a comic book was a continuing strip called ‘Stratosphere Special’ which was printed as part of Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson’s New Comics #4 (March-April, 1936).  A second installment would appear in the following issue before she then took the feature to Iger for use in all four issues of Wow—What a Magazine!  As far as can now be determined, those four installments would be the final signed works that Summerfield would ever do for the comics—the end-point for the credited publishing career of the second woman in American comics.

   message pictures/WowIntro/Thorndike, Chuck sm.jpg
            CHARLES JESSE ‘CHUCK’ THORNDIKE  (Jan 20, 1897 - Mar 22, 1986) was already a journey man artist by the time he worked on Wow..Mag.  A multifaceted artist and business man, Thorndike was listed in the 1959 edition of Who’s Who in American Art, would produce several art how-to books that are still being sold, worked in fine art, was involved in radio commentary, acted as the art director of animated cartoons for an advertising agency in San Francisco, did regular “chalk talks”, and also worked in syndicated newspaper strips.  A short bio on the artist can be found at –

A heartfelt thank-you to DCM member ejpetrie for his invaluable assistance in these bios.  And to Ken Quattro for his tireless work in digging the lost history of our hobby.  May his health only get better in the future.

Offline Yoc

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Re: Wow - What a Magazine #2 - Introduction
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2017, 12:50:52 PM »
Thanks again to OtherEric, ejpetrie and erwin-k for their work on this introduction and bio.
You guys are great!  :)

Offline gafaicheng

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Re: Wow - What a Magazine #2 - Introduction
« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2017, 09:46:26 AM »
Thanks for posting the write up and the comic itself! I think it's just as important as Action #1!

Offline Yoc

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Re: Wow - What a Magazine #2 - Introduction
« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2017, 10:24:19 PM »
Glad you liked it G.
In it's own unique way it really was a very important series.  Our hope is the other issues will some day be scanned.