Thursday, February 07, 2008


Obscurity of the Day: True Comics

For a previous post about the mystery artists of True Comics and a bunch more sample strips take a look here.

True Comics was an exercise is making comics that were 'good' for kids. In 1941 a company called Parents Institute, a publishers better known for its parenting magazines, decided to create a line of educational comic books. Designed to wean kids from "blood and thunder" comics, the concept by the publishers own admission was a flop. That didn't keep them plugging away with the idea for almost a full decade. The flagship Parents Institute comic book title, True Comics, appeared on the newsstands in early 1941. Not long after that the company also put together a newspaper comic strip, also titled True Comics, along the same lines. It was distributed to newspapers in conjunction with Bell Syndicate.

The Sunday strip started on November 2 1941, and the earliest dailes I find are from the first week of December. Both the daily and Sunday strips told stories about famous people and events; the lives of Wild Bill Donovan, Amelia Earhart and Cordell Hull were early subjects.

The daily told rather long stories, while the Sunday at first had stories that continued anywhere from 1-5 weeks. After the first ten months the Sunday changed tactics and made all the stories self-contained each week.

Quite a few cartoonists contributed to the feature; unfortunately many of them didn't bother to sign their work. The most frequent artist was Sam Glankoff, who probably did well over half of the entire run, but Chad Grothkopf did some Sundays and dailies in 1942, and others such as Ed Smalle, Lew Glanz, and George Andrew Corley each made an appearance. Of particular interest is the very odd pairing of Joe Simon and Milt Gross who subbed for Glankoff on the Sunday every 3-5 weeks during much of 1945 (the sample above is a Simon-Gross production).

The daily, which some papers titled Real Heroes for reasons unknown, seems to have ended on February 6 1943, while the Sunday soldiered on until November 25 1945. (The comic book version ran until 1949.)

Here's a good Time magazine article on Parents Institute, and an interesting blog article on the comic book series.


How can the daily start on a Sunday? Anyway, the Milwaukee Journal starts it on November 2, 1941 (with an announcement the previous monday), and to my untrained eyes, this looks like a Sunday page:
Boy, did I bung up my dates there. Totally misread my notes. Post is corrected, thanks for the heads-up Fram.

Hello Allan Holtz, I am the director of the Sam Glankoff Collection, and have stumbled upon your piece on True Comics. I have many Glankoff strips, some of which can be seen on the Glankoff website: Thank you for your coverage on True Comics, also listing the names of other cartoonist's who contributed during the 1940s. Greg Theakston wrote a piece on Glankoff as cartoonist, which is also on the Glankoff website. Please feel free to add to your links...and I look forward to being in touch, to learn more of that period of Glankoff's life.
Wendy Snyder /
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