Today we’re going to start on a series of posts about a very rare series. Dell Publishing, for reasons long lost to the mists of time, decided in 1930 to begin publishing a tabloid called The Funnies. The 16 page publication was on newsprint throughout, including the cover, and featured comics, stories and columns. All the material was original to the publication.
The series lasted for at least 36 issues. Based on the numbering cited in Robert Beerbohm’s platinum age comics section of the Overstreet Price Guide that places the first issue appearing on February 15 1930, and he has the last known issue, number 36, on October 18.
The big question, at least for me, is whether this series was intended as a newspaper insert or a standalone newsstand publication. There is evidence that goes both ways. Evidence that it was intended as a newspaper insert:
1) I corresponded with Beerbohm many years ago about the series — unfortunately the correspondence was long ago lost but my best recollection is that he claimed his samples at the time all came from the microfilm of a newspaper in Quebec Canada.
2) The comic strips from the publication were offered in the Editor & Publisher Syndicate Yearbook. More on this in a subsequent post.
3) Beerbohm’s samples (he made a batch of photocopies for me) had the cover price blanked out, which would be appropriate for an insert.
On the other hand, there is a definite possibility that it was a standalone newsstand publication:
1) Some samples of the tabloid, including mine, have prices printed on them.
2) It is cited as a newsstand publication by Beerbohm and others. I don’t know what the basis for that is other than the cover price.
My guess is that Dell was probably trying to market it both ways. But part of the reason I’m doing this series of posts is to try to gather more information from you comics scholars out there. Surely there is more known about this publication now than there was a decade or so ago when I talked to Robert Beerbohm about it. Has anyone else found samples, either accompanying newspapers or otherwise?
The rest of this series of posts will reproduce samples of the features from The Funnies from my lone sample — a find that I’ve been searching out for years now. Unfortunately my sample is missing 4 pages and there’s a cutout on the back cover. But beggars can’t be choosers, so I’m happy to have even this badly damaged copy.