Hames Ware - Paul Leiffer - David Saunders
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New Fun Comics - February 1935

In February of 1935 Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson made history by producing New Fun Comics, volume one - issue one, the first American comic book of all original material. The contents were drawn by fifteen different artists. Four of them were independent gag cartoonists. Another four were syndicated newspaper comic strip artists. The remaining seven were professional illustrators who regularly appeared in pulp magazines and newspapers. All seven of those illustrators were accustomed to receiving their assignments from one among them, Adolphe Barreaux, who ran the Majestic Art Studio, an art agency that supplied illustrations to pulp magazines and newspapers including The Brooklyn Eagle, which happened to own the press that printed NEW FUN. The editor was Lloyd Jacquet, whose radio column was a regular feature in The Brooklyn Eagle.

In 1936 Nicholson’s editors, William Cook and John Mahon, left to start their own Comics Magazine Company, predecessor of the Centaur line of comics. By then there were six comic titles on the market that used original stories and art, New Fun, New Adventure, Funny Pages, Funny Picture Stories, Detective Picture Stories, and Wow-What a Magazine!, the last was produced by John Henle.

The demand for original stories and art was growing too fast to be supplied by hiring freelance artists, writers, inkers and letterers. Stepping in to supply this need was the entrepreneur Harry “A” Chesler, who established the first comic art shop to provide material for Nicholson and Cook-Mahon titles. Chesler also published two titles of his own in 1937: Star Comics and Star Ranger Comics.

1937 was also the year that Jerry Iger and Will Eisner established Universal Phoenix Feature Syndicate, originally to supply comic strips for newspaper syndication in foreign markets. Soon the Eisner and Iger shop was supplying new material for publishers of comic books, which now included Fox and Fiction House.

After leaving Nicholson and working as art editor for Joseph Hardie’s Centaur line, Lloyd Jacquet convinced some of his co-workers to join his own comic shop, called Funnies Inc.

Probably the most unique studio at that time was the short-lived Binder Shop, founded by Jack Binder, who had been Chesler's art director. The Binder Shop was the largest in-house operation that worked with an assembly-line system.

By 1940, over twenty publishers had entered the comic book field, and a number of shops and agencies had been formed to fill the need for new material.

By 1943 a fifth major art studio emerged, with a different focus, the Sangor Shop, which produced funny animal features for Pines and ACG. Sangor worked with a pool of over sixty animators and writers, represented by the animator, Jim Davis.

Other small studios were Bernard Baily, Beck-Costanza, Emanuel Demby, Al Fago, Lou Ferstadt, Walter Gibson, Chad Grothkopf, Jason Comic Art, Joe Shuster and Bert Whitman Associates.

Most fans of golden-age comics have read the names of the publishing companies and artists that received printed credit, but after a lifetime of interviews and correspondence with surviving members of the industry, Hames Ware realized that beyond the printed credits, there was an even greater participant responsible for most of the original material in comic books during those formative years, and that was the products of the COMIC SHOPS, where an ever-changing gang of artists worked together as a team under inspired leadership for a small but steady income. This website is intended to set that record straight by a closer look at the history of the first COMIC SHOPS from 1935 to 1945.