The Mystery of Harry A Chesler's Phantom Ties to Feature Funnies

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Harry A Chesler was part of the publishing team on Feature Funnies/Harry A Chesler helped supply the stories for Feature Funnies #1


I'm Going With False

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In a lot of ways, the early days of the comic book industry was like the Wild West. Publishers were coming and going as no one really knew quite what to make about this new industry. As a result, there were so many people involved (and so little records remaining) that it was very easy for someone to accidentally get credit for being involved with a comic book that they do not appear to have any connection to at all!

As I have noted before, one of the key comic book titles in the early days of comics was Famous Funnies, a joint production by Dell and Eastern Color that reprinted comic strips...

The comic sold poorly at first, so Dell actually backed out of the deal, just before it finally started making money.

Then the next game-changer occurred when Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson decided that the next step would be to do comic books with ORIGINAL content...

The marketplace was really not ready for this sort of thing yet, but Wheeler-Nicholson's early efforts sold well enough for him to keep going.

However, soon after, a comic book MAGAZINE was launched with original content called Wow! What a Magazine!

That magazine also did not sell very well, but it was notable for being edited by Jerry Iger and featuring the earliest work of a few notable comic book creators by the names of Bob Kane and Jerry Iger. When the magazine went under, Iger and Eisner decided to go into business together doing a "packaging studio," where they would create content for any other new comic book companies out there.

One such comic book company was Comic Magazine Company, founded by two of Wheeler-Nicholson's employees, John Mahon and William Cook. Their first comic book was called, obviously enough, Comic Magazine...

The first issue had a whole bit about how notable it was that that their comics were original...

They launched a few other titles, like Detective Pictures Stories...

Busy Arnold, who worked for a color printing press, helped Mahon and Cook on their new venture (how, exactly, is a bit unclear. I'm not sure if he gave them money or what), so he saw what they were doing and how it wasn't working out. However, he thought that there clearly was a market for comics, so he helped form a new company, Comic Favorites, Inc. that would specialize in comic strip reprints just like Famous Funnies and the new title was dubbed Feature Funnies...

Arnold even "stole" away a number of the comic strips that had appeared in Famous Funnies, as he partnered with three of the comic strip syndicates that had helped supply comic strips to Famous Funnies (McNaught Syndicate, the Frank J. Markey Syndicate, and Iowa's Register and Tribune Syndicate).

(Check out this old Comic Book Legends Revealed to see how Eastern Color reacted to a comic book called Feature Funnies starting)

Okay, now, around the same time that Comics Magazine launched, Harry A Chesler (the A was an affection, not an actual initial) launched his own short-lived line of comics, with the first comic book being Star Comics...

Here he is in the indica...

Chesler soon sold the company but then went into business as a comic book packager, like Eisner/Iger.

For some reason, Chesler has been listed as being behind Feature Funnies. Check out the Wikipedia entry for Feature Funnies (well, before it is edited, of course), "The series started out as a reprint collection of newspaper comic strips that was published by Harry "A" Chesler between 1937 and 1939, for twenty issues entitled Feature Funnies. It featured cannily mixed color reprints of popular newspaper comic strips like Joe Palooka, Mickey Finn and Dixie Dugan with a smattering of new features."

That's not the case. Chesler had nothing to do with Feature Funnies. He was not listed in the indica...

and obviously, the majority of the comic book was reprints of comic strips. The NEW material in the book (it was nearly impossible to fill a whole comic book with just comic strips) was almost all reprints of Eisner/Iger stories that had been published originally in the British comic book magazine, Wags...

plus some original work from Ed Cronin, who went to work for Arnold as an editor.

Chesler had nothing to do with the comic. Chesler LATER worked with Arnold on supplying content to Arnold's comics as the company expanded into what would become Quality Comics, but not in those early days.

And yet, for some reason, his name keeps getting attached to Feature Funnies. It's so odd. Again, the comics in Feature Funnies #1 were either A. comic strip reprints B. Eisner/Iger stuff or C. freelance work (almost all, if not all, by Ed Cronin). So thee was no room for Chesler to be involved! And the ownership of Comic Favorites, Inc. was very simple - it was Arnold and the three comic strip syndicates. There was no reason for Chesler to be involved and, indeed, he was not.

It's just this recurring little bit of comic book misinformation that has stood the test of time for whatever reason.

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