Frank Johnson Publications

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Frank Johnson Publications
Founded July 1941
Founder Frank Johnson
Country of origin Australia
Headquarters location Sydney, New South Wales
Key people Frank Johnson
A.C. Headley
Publication types Comics
Fiction genres science fiction, crime, adventure, war, super heros, thrillers, westerns
Imprints see list of titles below

Frank Johnson Publications was an Australian comic book and pulp magazine publisher in the 1940s and 1950s.


In the 1920s, Frank Johnson, an assistant at the Sydney bookseller Dymocks, together with Norman Lindsay, his son Jack and Kenneth Slessor founded the arts and literary magazine, Vision.[1][2]

In July 1940 the Australian Government facing a US dollar shortage enforced a series of trade regulations and banned the importation of American comic material.[3] This ban created the opportunity for local publishers and artists to enter into the market, creating what has been described as "the richest period in Australian literary history; thousands of titles were produced, millions of copies sold, and dozens of authors found gainful employment."[4] Despite wartime paper restrictions and lack of experienced comic book artists a local industry soon developed, with new publishing companies producing indigenous comic books.[5] The first Frank Johnson Publication comic issued was Amazing, which was released in July 1941.[5][6] Since wartime regulations prohibited the publication of new periodicals, Frank Johnson Publications published one-shot comics. They continued to release a new comic each week, which in order were Star, Marvel, Magic, Thrilling, Super, Mighty, Master, Victory, Winner, Conquer, Hero, Hot Shot, Crash, Thunder, Terrific, Ace, Bullet, Corker, Startling, Modern and Monster. They continued to change the title week after week and when they had exhausted their supply of titles they re-used the old titles by adding the prefix, 'New' (i.e. New Crash, New Magic etc.).[6]

Essentially Frank Johnson Publications were publishing four different comics a month and releasing one each week, with the stories in Amazing carrying on in Thrilling, Victory and Hot Shot; the stories in Star continuing in Super, Winner, Crash and so on.[6]

Most of the regular artists who worked for Frank Johnson Publications, were freelancers from The Bulletin, Smith's Weekly and other newspapers and included Unk White, Les Dixon, Norm Rice, Dan Russell, Bruce Cousins, Dick Alderton, Carl Lyon, Noel Cook, Frank Jessup, Rhys Williams, Ron Broadley, Phil Belbin, Stan Pitt, Gerard Lants, Moira Bertram, John Jensen, Peter Chapman, Lloyd Piper, Ralph Shelley and Emile Mercier.

Generally the regular artists were paid 30 shillings per page and were guaranteed four to six pages a week.[6] For some this represented a full week's wages, for others, particularly those moonlighting, it meant additional income. Whilst some artists handled their own storylines, the bulk of the early comics were written by Alfred Charles Headley (A. C. Headley or Alf or Chuck).[6] Essentially after an artist had brought in their pages from the previous week they would confer with him, who would type a synopsis of the new story on the spot. The artist would then break down the story and supply or modify the dialogue as they saw fit. A similar approach would be taken by Stan Lee at the Marvel Comics Group thirty years later.[6]

Unk White was responsible for not only drawing the cover of the first comic but also the first adventure strip, "Blue" Hardy and Diamond Eyed Pygmies.[6]

Locally created comics, including Frank Johnson Publications, disappeared in the 1950s as a result of combined effect of import bans being lifted, a censorship campaign, and the introduction of television.[3][5]


  • Adventure Comics (1946)
  • Doctor Evil & the Robotman (1943–44)
  • Famous Detective Stories (1946–54)
  • Gem Comics (1946–50)
  • Magpie Comics (1946)
  • New Adventure (1949–50)
  • The New Cracker (1945)
  • Prendergast of the Silent Service (1944)
  • Star Pocket (1942–45)
  • True Pirate (1946–49)
  • Wizard Comics (1946)


  1. ^ Overell, Richard (Curator) (2000). "Science Fiction - An Exhibition of Material from the Rare Book Collection". Monash University. Retrieved 6 December 2011. 
  2. ^ "Kenneth Slessor". Australian Poetry Library. Retrieved 6 December 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Lent, John A. (Editor) (1999). Pulp Demons : International Dimensions of the Postwar Anti-Comics Campaign. Fairleigh Dickinson University Press. p. 22. ISBN 978-0-8386-3784-5. 
  4. ^ Johnson-Woods, Toni (2006). ""Pulp" Fiction Industry in Australia 1949-1959". Antipodes. 20 (1): 63–67. JSTOR 41957512. 
  5. ^ a b c Shiell, Annette (Editor) (1998). Bonzer - Australian comics 1900s-1990s. Redhill, South Australia: Elgua Media. p. 10. ISBN 1-876308-12-5. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Ryan, John (1979). Panel by Panel - An Illustrated history of Australian Comics. Cassell Australia. p. 166. ISBN 0-7269-7376-9. 

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