The Funnies

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The Funnies (1929-1930)
The Funnies #28 (September 13, 1930). Cover art by Victor E. Pazmiño (signed).[1]
Publication information
PublisherDell Publishing
FormatOngoing series
Publication date1929–1930
No. of issues36

The Funnies was the name of two American publications from Dell Publishing, the first of these a seminal, 1920s precursor of comic books, and the second a standard 1930s comic book.

The Funnies (1929-1930)[edit]

In 1929, George T. Delacorte Jr.'s Dell Publishing, founded eight years earlier, began publishing The Funnies, described by the Library of Congress as "a short-lived newspaper tabloid insert".[2] Comics historian Ron Goulart describes the 16-page, four-color, newsprint periodical as "more a Sunday comic section without the rest of the newspaper than a true comic book. But it did offer all original material and was sold on newsstands".[3]

The magazine ran 36 weekly issues, published Saturdays from January 16, 1929, to October 16, 1930.[4] The cover price rose from 10¢ to 30¢ with issue #3.[5] This was reduced to a nickel from issue #22 to the end.[5]

The Funnies helped lay the groundwork for two subsequent publications in 1933: Eastern Color Printing's similar proto-comic book, the eight-page newsprint tabloid Funnies on Parade, and the Eastern Color / Dell collaboration Famous Funnies: A Carnival of Comics,[6] considered by historians the first true American comic book.[7]

The Funnies (1936 to 1942) and New Funnies[edit]

The Funnies vol. 2 (1936-1942)
The Funnies vol. 2, #1 (Oct. 1936), featuring Major Hoople of Gene Ahern's Our Boarding House. Cover artist unknown.
Publication information
PublisherDell Publishing
FormatOngoing series
Publication dateAs The Funnies: 1936–1942
New Funnies: 1942–1962
No. of issues64

Dell Publishing's second publication by this name was a standard American comic book published during the 1930s and 1940s period fans and historians call the Golden Age of Comic Books. A rival to Eastern Color's successful comic-book series Famous Funnies,[8] it similarly reprinted newspaper comic strips, mostly NEA-syndicate comics such as Alley Oop, by V. T. Hamlin, and Captain Easy, by Roy Crane, as well as others including Mutt and Jeff, by Bud Fisher, and Tailspin Tommy, by Hal Forrest.[8] Packaged by Max Gaines and editor Sheldon Mayer,[8] it ran 64 issues (cover-dated Oct. 1936 - May 1942).[9]

It began running original material with Mayer's feature Scribbly, about a boy cartoonist, laid out to look like a Sunday newspaper comic strip. Other, gradual bits of original comics followed, including six-page adaptations of B-movie Westerns, beginning with issue #20 (May 1938), and a four-page true-crime feature, "The Crime Busters", drawn by Al McWilliams, beginning the following issues. Following Gaines and Mayer leaving to produce work for All-American Publications, most reprints other than Alley Oop were abandoned in favor of original content, including "Mr. District Attorney", based on the radio series, and "John Carter of Mars", adapted from the Edgar Rice Burroughs series of novels, and after a few issues illustrated by his son, John Coleman Burroughs.[8]

The comic book switched formats and title to become New Funnies with issue #65 (July 1942).[10] Now devoted to such children's characters as Raggedy Ann and Andy, and such funny animal characters as the film-based Felix the Cat, Oswald the Rabbit, and Woody Woodpecker, it lasted through issue #288 (April 1962), with its title changed to Walter Lantz New Funnies after 44 issues, beginning with issue #109 (March 1946).[11]


  1. ^ Goulart, Ron. Comic Book Culture: An Illustrated History (Collectors Press), p. 11. ISBN 978-1-888054-38-5
  2. ^ U.S. Library of Congress, The Funnies, "American Treasures of the Library of Congress" exhibition. WebCitation archive.
  3. ^ Goulart, Ron (2004). "The Funnies: I". Comic Book Encyclopedia. New York: Harper Entertainment. p. 163. ISBN 978-0060538163.
  4. ^ Funnies, The (Dell, Film Humor, Inc. [#1-2]; Dell Publishing Co. [#3-36] imprint, 1929 Series) at the Grand Comics Database
  5. ^ a b Coville, Jamie (n.d.). "The History of Comic Books: Introduction and 'The Platinum Age 1897 - 1938]'". via Archived from the original on September 26, 2010.
  6. ^ Famous Famous - Carnival of Comics at the Grand Comics Database.
  7. ^ Goulart, p.144, for example, calls it "the cornerstone for one of the most lucrative branches of magazine publishing".
  8. ^ a b c d Goulart, Ron. "The Funnies: II" Comic Book Encyclopedia, p. 163
  9. ^ Funnies, The (Dell, 1936 Series) at the Grand Comics Database.
  10. ^ New Funnies at the Grand Comics Database.
  11. ^ Walter Lantz New Funnies at the Grand Comics Database.

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]