JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA

Centaur Comics

The Swiped Artwork

Starting at National (DC)

The first publishing endeavor in the Centaur comics lineage was started by William E. "Bill" Cook and John F. Mahon. These men began their comics careers at the nascent DC Comics (then National Allied Newspaper Syndicate), Cook was hired by publisher Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson to be Managing Editor and Mahon served as Business Manager. Their names appear in National's issues dated December 1935, but they disappeared after March 1936. It's fairly well documented that Wheeler-Nicholson's early endeavors were not successful, and that he had trouble paying his bills, and his employees. (Goulart ??, Jones ??)

In The Iger Comics Kingdom, Jay Disbrow asserted that when National's books floundered, "that Bill Cook and John Mahon (who hadn’t been paid by Wheeler-Nicholson and were even out of pocket for some material) decided to team up and produce a comic book of their own."

Founding Comics Magazine Co.

For printing advice, the two men consulted Everett "Busy" Arnold, Vice President at the Greater Buffalo Press. Arnold told Jerry Bails, "My first exposure to comic magazines was in 1935 when I printed the Centaur Publications [this is not technically correct] (Funny Pages and Funny Picture Stories) for John Mahon and Bill Cook." (Arnold, 15 May 1972)

In History of the Comics vol 2 Jim Steranko added "Through Arnold, the [CMC] books were printed by Dan Hanna, publisher of the Cleveland News [probably one of Arnold's clients], with the cover printing, binding, and shipping done by the Penton Press, also in Cleveland." Steranko goes on to say that Cook and Mahon suffered the same difficulties as their former employer.

Content-wise, there were some carryovers from National to CMC. Wheeler-Nicholson's son Douglas felt that some stories were swiped when Cook and Mahon left National. "I think the guys putting out that little comic book just stole it." (Alter Ego #88: 27)

One of these stories is an interesting chapter from Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster's "Dr. Occult." The character's name was changed to "Dr. Mystic" for one episode only, in the May 1936 issue of Comics Magazine #1. Whether it was given or taken, Siegel and Shuster continued creating this and other adventures for National, not CMC. said that these were "payment" to the two from Wheeler-Nicholson, in lieu of their paychecks.

Compare the Pages

Of the following examples, only "Captain Bill" appeared more than once at Comics Magazine Co.

The first chapter in Siegel and Shuster's "Dr. Occult" story was begun in CMC's Comics Magazine #1 (left), but continued at National's More Fun Comics #14-17 (#17 on the right, under pseudonyms).

 
Left: "Dr. Mystic" from Comics Magazine #1 (May 1936). Right: "Dr. Occult" from More Fun Comics #17 (Jan. 1937).
 
Captain Jim apparently had a brother, Bill, whom W.M. Allison drew these and other features simultaneously for both publishers. Left: from New Comics #8 (Sept. 1936). Right: Comics Magazine #1 (May 1936).
 
"Chikko Chakko" by Ellis Edwards first appeared in National's New Comics. On the left from New Comics #8 (Sept. 1936); on the right from Comics Magazine #1 (May 1936). Edwards did other features for CMC.
    
Another Siegel and Shuster creation: On the left, "Federal Men" from New Comics #2 (Jan. 1936); on the right, "Federal Agent," from Comics Magazine #2 (June 1936).

Centaur Family: Comic Book Titles

Comics Magazine Company (1936–37)

The earliest of these were the Comics Magazine Company, Inc. and Chesler Publications, Inc., both of which sold titles to Ultem Publications, Inc. Many sources include these predecessors as Centaur issues, but the companies are all distinct.

Note: Only three "super-heroes" ever appeared in Comics Magazine's titles: Dr. Mystic and the Clock, and the Phantom of the Hills. The company ceased operations before the hero boom, but these heroes are both significant for their own reasons.

» SEE ALSO: Grand Comics Database: Comics Magazine Company

Chesler Publications, Inc. (1937)

Chesler latger published other books, which featured content ??unrelated?? to these first two. No super-heroes appeared in these titles during their original runs under Chesler.

  • Star Comics, #1–6 (Feb. 1937–Sept. 1937), oversized; continued by Ultem
  • Star Ranger, #1-6 (Feb. 1937–Sept. 1937), oversized; continued by Ultem
  • Cocomalt Big Book of Comics, giveaway (1938) Harry "A" Chesler, N. Y.

» SEE ALSO: Grand Comics Database: Chesler

Ultem (1937–38)

Ultem is a bit of an enigma in comics history. Other than it's name, no one would ever have guessed the company even existed. Its table of contents pages were dead ringers for Chesler's, as Chelser himself continued on as their editor on his own titles, Star Rangers and Star Comics. Furtehr, when Martin Filchock spoke to Jim Amash, he didn't recall the name "Ultem" at all—this despite having claimed to work unbroken for both Bill Cook at CMC then Joe Hardie at Centaur. Curiously, Filchock's work does "skip over" the Ultem period. After CMC, his next features were in comics published under Centaur proper.

was formed by The company's name was the combination of its two founders, Irving .W. Ullman and Frank Temerson.

Ultem in turn sold all four of their titles to Joseph Hardie and Raymond Kelly's Centaur Publications, Inc., which had been publishing pulp magazines since at least 1933. Centaur used these to begin their comic book line, and also drew on the back inventory of stories to fill out the early issues of their new titles with reprints. Comic Corporation of America began with Amazing Man Comics in 1939, but did not add other titles until after Centaur Publications, Inc. had ceased production at the end of 1940.

?? suggested that the owners were notorious for ??

Ultem continued four titles and began new vol numbers for two titles…

  • Funny Pages, v.2 #1–5 (Sept. 1937–Jan. 1938)
  • Funny Picture Stories, v.2 #1–5 (Sept. 1937–Jan. 1938)
  • Star Comics, #7–9 (Oct. -Nov. 1937–Jan. 1938)
  • Star Ranger, #7–9 (Oct. -Nov. 1937–Jan. 1938)
» SEE ALSO: Grand Comics Database: Ultem

Centaur & Comic Corporation of America (1938–42)

Comics by both Centaur Publications, Inc. and the Comics Corporation of America were advertised together and referred to as being published by the "Centaur Group" in those ads. The indicia publisher is noted in each listing. Owned by Joseph Hardie and Fred Gardner. Edited by Lloyd Jacquet, who ran a comics packaging service called Funnies, Inc.

  • Amazing Adventure Funnies, 2 issues (June 1940–Sept. 1940) • Centaur
  • Amazing Man Comics, 22 issues (Sept. 1939–Jan. 1942) • CCA
  • Amazing Mystery Funnies, 24 issues (Aug. 1938–Sept. 1940) • Centaur
  • The Arrow, 3 issues (Oct. 1940–Oct. 1941) • Centaur #1-2 • CCA #3
  • C-M-O Comics, 2 issues (1942) • CCA
  • Detective Eye, 2 issues (Nov. 1940–Dec. 1940) • Centaur
  • Fantoman, 3 issues (Aug. 1940–Dec. 1940) • Centaur
  • Funny Pages v.2 #6–v.4 #1, #35-42 (March 1938–Oct. 1940) • Centaur
  • Funny Picture Stories, v.2 #6–v.3 #3 (March 1938–May 1939) • Centaur becomes…
    Comic Pages, v.3 #4–6 (July 1939–Dec. 1939) • Centaur
  • Funny Picture Stories [laundromat giveaway] #1 (April 1938) • Centaur
  • Keen Detective Funnies, v.1 #8–24 (July 1938–Sept. 1940) • Centaur
    There was no v.1 #1–7; numbering cotinued in volumes until after v.3 #1, when it changed to whole numbers #18–24. Most stories from the 1st few issues are reprints from Funny Picture Stories and Detective Picture Stories.
  • Keen Komics, 3 issues (May 1939–Nov. 1939) • Centaur
  • Liberty Scouts Comics, #2–3 (1941) • CCA ; becomes
    Liberty Guards Comics, nn (1942) • CCA
  • Man of War Comics, 2 issues (Nov. 1941–Jan. 1942) • CCA
  • Masked Marvel, 3 issues (Sept. 1940–Dec. 1940) • Centaur
  • Star Comics, v.1 #10–v.2 #7 (March 1938–Aug. 1939) • Centaur
  • Star Ranger, v.1 #10–12 (March 1938–May 1938) • Centaur
    … renamed Cowboy Comics #13-14 (July 1938–Aug. 1938 • Centaur
    …renamed Star Ranger Funnies, v.1 #15–v.2 #5 (Oct. 1938–Oct. 1939) • Centaur
  • Khaki Komics, 1 issue [nn] (1941) • CCA; same cover used on …
    Stars and Stripes Comics, #2–6 (May 1941–Dec. 1941) • CCA
  • Super Spy, 2 issues (Oct. 1940–Nov. 1940) • Centaur
  • Uncle Joe's Funnies, 1 issue (1938) • Centaur
  • Wham Comics, 2 issues (Nov. 1940–Dec. 1940) • Centaur
  • World Famous Heroes Magazine, 4 issues (Oct. 1941–April 1942) • CCA

Little Giant comics • 6.75 x 4.5 inches

  • Little Giant Comics, 4 issues (July 1938–Feb. 1939)
  • Little Giant Movie Funnies, 2 issues (Aug. 1938–Oct. 1938)
  • Little Giant Detective Funnies, 2 issues (Oct. 1938–Jan. 1939)

Published by Comic Corporation of America for and/or by Chicago Mail Order Co.

By many accounts, Centaur's titles suffered from poor distribution and as the U. S. was drawn into World War II they ceased publication. Some of their final issues were projects for the Chicago Mail Order Co. "C-M-O Comics" was published for them, (but not by the Chicago Mail Order Co., contrary to some sources), while Liberty Guards Comics may have been published directly by the Chicago Mail Order Co. Even less is known about a third possible CMO-related title, Khaki Komics. All of these issues except possibly Khaki Komics may have been published later in 1942 than the last regularly dated titles.

  • Khaki Komics, 1 issue (nn, 1941); same cover used on …
    Stars and Stripes Comics, #2–6 (May 1941–Dec. 1941)
  • Liberty Scouts Comics, #2–3 (1941) Howard Keltner wrote that the Boy Scouts of America forced this title to change it's name to
    Liberty Guards Comics, #1 (1942); but this issue was all reprints, using the cover from Liberty Scouts #2 and the contents from Man of War Comics #1
  • Man of War Comics, 2 issues (Nov. 1941–Jan. 1942)
  • C-M-O Comics, 2 issues (1942) , the initials stand for "Chicago Mail Order Co.," and the indicia lists CCA as publisher

Comic Corporation of America continued on as a publisher of non-comics titles. Two other Hardie / Kelly companies, Harle Publications, Inc. (seen in the statement of ownership of Funny Picture Stories v.3 #1) and H-K Publications, Inc., would publish a few comics in the 1950's but mostly published other sorts of magazines. Find more information about them in Centaur Super-Powered Pioneers.

References

Published words related to the Centaur family of comics.

Books

  • Berk, Jon. "Harry 'A' Chesler, Jr.: Comic Book Entrepreneur." Comic Book Marketplace 91. The bulk of this article can be found here.
  • Keltner, Howard. Golden Age Comic Books Index: 1935-1955. Gainesville, TX: Howard Keltner, 1998. A staggering self-published tome that indexes almost every Golden Age comic book, including feature titles and page counts.
  • Naiman, Michael. ?? indices.
  • Sesselego, Corrado and Laura Livi. Public Domain Encyclopedia vol. III: Centaur Super-Powered Pioneers.Genova, Italy: Blue Monkey Studio, 2015.
  • Steranko, James. The Steranko History of Comics vol. 1. Reading, PA: Supergraphics, 1970. This volume largely covers the big players, DC and Marvel.
  • *—. The Steranko History of Comics vol. 2. Reading, PA: Supergraphics, 1972. This volume contains one of only two known conversations with Quality publisher Busy Arnold, and probably the only published interviews ever conducted and superstar artists ??.

Periodicals, Articles and Oddball Comics

This section lists periodicals by publishers that have run multiple articles on topics related to Quality Comics.

A.C.E. Comics

Ace Comics Presents #3. A.C.E. Comics, ??

AC Comics

  • "Golden Age Publishers: Centaur."
  • "Golden Age Profiles: Martin Filchock." 18 September 2011.
  • Heike, Mark. "Does Anyone Remember John Giunta."
  • Men of Mystery#23 , ??. Interview with Martin Filchock,
  • Men of Mystery #42 , ??. Fantom of the Fair
  • Men of Mystery #43 , ??. Reprints TNT Todd story from Keen Detective Funnies #.
  • Men of Mystery #43 , ??. "a Centaur short recreation by Fred Guardineer."
  • Men of Mystery #63, ??. Reprints the "Shark" from Amazing Man Comics, "Air Man" from Amazing Mystery Funnies.
  • Men of Mystery #80, ??. Reprints stories by Bob Kane.
  • Men of Mystery #81, ??. Reprints the Arrow from ??.
  • Men of Mystery #82, ??. Reprints the Blue Lady from Amazing Man Comics #25.
  • Men of Mystery #83, 2010. Spotlight on Centaur Comics. Reprints 11 stories from Amazing Man Comics, Wham Comics and Amazing Mystery Funnies, featuring Amazing Man, the Arrow, Fantoman, the Shark, Airsub DX, the Rainbow, the Black Panther, Reef Kinkaid, Might Man, and the Blue Fire.

TwoMorrows Publishing

Go to the source and read the relevant issues of Alter Ego that feature Jim Amash's (and others') original interviews and other Quality-related articles. Most of those issues are available for digital download.

  • Alter Ego #23 (April 2003). Amash, Jim. “ ‘Fuje’ for Thought!” 3-20. Interview with Bob Fujitani.
  • Alter Ego #25 (). Jack Cole issue…
    • —. “He Was a Very, Very Interesting Talent!” 33-35.Interview with Bill Seay.
    • Thomas, Roy. “He Could Do Anything!” 27-28. Interview with Creig Flessel.
  • Alter Ego #59 (June 2006). “It Only Took 40 Years … to Be the Steve Roper Artist!” by Amash, Jim Amash, pp. 48-59. Interview with artist Fran Matera.
  • Alter Ego #60 (July 2006). “We Were a Very Happy Group” by Jim Amash, pp. 43-60. Interview with Tony DiPreta.
  • Alter Ego #64 (Jan. 2007). “They Treated Me Like I Had Talent!” by Jim Amash, pp. 22-40. Interview with Martin Filchock.
  • Alter Ego #91 (Jan. 2010). "Centaur Spread — Part III" by Lee Boyette.

Comic Book Marketplace 4 (Aug. 1991)

  • "The Amazing Funny Mystery of Centaur Comics." 8-13
  • Linkenback, Sean. "CBM Presents Sleepers." 35. List of undervalued Centaur issues.

Comic Book Marketplace 91 (May 2002)

  • Berk, Jon. "Harry “A” Chesler, Jr!" 40-54.

Online