Posted Saturday, September 25th, 2021 by Barry

Famous Funnies: A Carnival of Comics (1933)

Today is our holiday.

Those in the audience who know the difference between CGC and CCA. What a cosmic treadmill is. Who Stan Lee or Julius Schwartz was.

Today is National Comic Book Day.

Rejoice in the newfound success of the formerly underappreciated medium. Fly the nerd flag high. This is a true American holiday.

The United States popularized the genre beginning with comic strips in newspapers.

Dell Publishing offered a 16-page periodical of original material in 1929 called The Funnies. A precursor to the modern comic book, it was more a collection of newspaper strips.


Famous Funnies: A Carnival of Comics (1933)

Eastern Color Printing’s Funnies on Parade was published a few years later, 1933, but only consisted of eight pages of reprinted material.

Publishing pioneer Maxwell Gaines and sales manager Harry Wildenberg partnered with Dell Publishing for a 36-page one-shot called Famous Funnies: A Carnival of Comics distributed through Woolworth’s department stores in 1933. It has not been determined if the book was given away or sold.

Reprinted inside were syndicated comic strips The Bungle Family, Dixie Dugan, Joe Palooka, Keeping Up with the Joneses, Mutt and Jeff, Regl’ar Fellers, and Somebody’s Stenog.

Eastern Color Printing and Dell Publishing teamed a year later to print a second volume, simply called Famous Funnies: Series 1. This one did carry a 10-cent price tag on the cover.

Proving to be a money maker, Famous Funnies became a monthly periodical. By the second issue the book would feature new material. It would run 218 issues.

In 1938, the first issue of Action Comics created a new genre with the Superman’s debut on the cover and inside. Soon mystery men (and women) dominated the comic medium.

Romance, western and every other imaginable story staple populated the newsstands and spin racks.

Following World War II superheroes began to fall out of favor. Horror and crime comic books came to the forefront and later under scrutiny. A witch hunt neutering an entire industry cast a shadow over the medium for more than a decade.

Not until the reinvention of superheroes in the 1950s did comic books start to enjoy a renaissance. Upstart Timely Comics, soon to be known as Marvel Comics, became a force in the four-color world and, by the following decade, were on par with the former National Periodicals.

By the end of the Bronze Age, the medium reimagined itself to reflect a more mature audience. Comic books would also suffer from a speculators market fueled and fed by greed by the end of the 1980s and into the 1990s.

By the dawn of the new millennium, Hollywood had helped legitimize comic books with blockbusters earning multimillions.

Currently the technology that has helped propel comics to such heights threatens to crumble the medium. How long they can maintain their cultural significance hinges on the faithful who read them and the craftsmen who create them.

How to celebrate should be obvious. Happy National  Comic Book Day.

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One Response

May 9, 2022

In re: this early issue of FAMOUS FUNNIES: In the earliest newspaper ads (beginning October 1st, 1933), the comic book was available for free by sending a box top from Wheatena breakfast cereal along with filling out the coupon in the advertisement to The Wheatena Corporation in Chicago. By the time of the March advertisements, they were mentioned as giveaway premiums available at specific supermarkets with the purchase of Wheatena cereal.

There are no known advertisements found to date that mention this comic book and Woolworth department stores. It is possible that copies left over from the promotion with Wheatena cereal were later distributed through that department store in 1934.

Source: Grand Comics Database,

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