'Irreverent Comments' Revisited by James Zee

US comics and pulp publications available in Australia before 1941

In 1940, Australia introduced import controls for non-sterling countries, effectively banning a wide range of US comics.

E.J. Francis satirised this ban (and many of the publications as well) in 'Irreverent Comments' in The Home: an Australian quarterly v22#1 (1 January 1941).

The relevant section is repeated here for you amusement:

"We have always derived an immense satisfaction from official lists of all kinds. The magnificent juxtapositions achieved therein are equalled only by the names used. For this and other reasons, we have pored closely over the list of magazines banned by the Commonwealth Government in its endeavours to save dollar exchange, and not without profit. Many of the magazines had not swum into our ken before.

"For example, we had had no idea that there was such a periodical as 'Amazing Mystery Funnies'. We are now seized with a burning desire to read it, even to become a subscriber. How are amazing mysteries made funny? Which aspect is stressed? We derive no information from the heading under which the stern Commonwealth places this publication, viz., 'comic strips, pictorial strips and pulls.'

"Nor can we find out anything from the rest of the list under this head. It includes the 'Amazing Man Comics' (another puzzler that). 'Broncho Bill', 'Comics on Parade', 'Cowboy Comics', 'Ella Cinders' (who's she?), 'Flash Comics', 'Fun Comics' (that one sounds good), 'Funnies', 'The Keen Detective Funnies' (which also has us by the throat), 'The Little Mary Mix Up’ (surely that one should be listed under medical journals), 'Mystery Men Comics'. 'New Adventure Comics', 'Smash Comics', 'Speed Comics', 'Super Comics', 'Wags', 'Crackajack Funnies' and '1,000 New Jokes'.

"The list has left us on our toes. To think that we have learned all this block too late! We wish now we had voted against Mr. Menzies. Curtin and Evatt, we feel, would not have banned the fascinating, tantalizing Ella Cinders . This is the sort of thing that turns respectable men into bootleggers. Anyway, how did the Customs know there was such a magazine as ‘Keen Detective Funnies’? A new world has opened to us, just as it is closed for the duration.

"Beside the comics, the section headed 'Western and Similar Fiction' presents a poorish selection of titles. 'Amazing Stories' has not the appeal of 'The Little Mary Mix Up'. On the other hand, there is some hope for 'The Avenger'. 'The Complete Cowboy' (weekly), 'Daredevil Aces', 'Dime Western', 'Doc Savage', 'Famous Fantastic Mysteries', 'Fast Action', 'G8 and his Battle Aces', 'The Gun Smoke Western', 'The Quick Trigger', 'Six Gun Western', 'Sky Devils', 'Sky Aces', 'Sky Raiders', 'Startling Stories', 'Thrilling Wonder Stories' —and so on. But having found in the list, 'The Six Gun Western', we admit to being troubled to find also a mere 'Two Gun Western'. (Pansy, my boy. Bring me the lariat and strap on those two sub-machine guns under my arms. And don’t forget the automatic to stick in each foot.) We were pleased, however, with one western, which appears coyly under the title 'Unknown'.

"On the whole, we feel that the wartime generation of youth is going to grow up without that proper pasture improvement which is its right. The defect shall be remedied. Take notice that we shall shortly start publication of 'Another Redskin Weekly', 'Bite-the-Dust Wondergraphs', 'Palefaces Revenge Monthly', 'Big Chief Gooseflesh Amazing Action Comics', and a few others.

"Under the simple, discreet but all embracing title of Love, the Commonwealth (dear, darling Commonwealth) bans the following, inter alia: 'Love Tales', 'Complete Love', 'Cowboy Romances', 'Love Book', 'Love Fiction', 'Monthly Love Story'. 'Magazine Love Tales', 'Popular Love', 'Ranch Romances', 'Romance Round-up', 'Romantic Love Secrets' 'Sweetheart Stories', 'Thrilling Love'. 'True Confessions'. 'True Experiences' (we like that subtle variation), 'True Romances'. 'Variety Love Stories' —oh! and lots of others.

"Never have we encountered so aphrodisiac a set of titles. They simply crawl up and down your spine and tickle your ears and say Oozy-woozy . The truly regrettable thing is that not one of them had the inventive genius of the Commonwealth Customs Department. Not one of them thought of producing a magazine simply and perfectly called 'LOVE'.

"We, ourselves, will remedy that deficiency shortly. We shall also publish 'Tickly Love Stories', 'Untrue Love', 'Passion Weekly', 'The Cowboy Push Over', 'Romances of the Milking Bails', 'The Fuller Brush Complete Story Book', 'The Detective Love Annual', and (as a standby) 'How to Herd Cows and be a G-Man'. If sales are encouraging we shall launch out into 'The Oomph and It Weekly' and 'The Dime Key hole'. Then we shall apply for a protective tariff."

A full list of banned publications was printed in contemporary newspapers, such as 'Restriction of Imports', The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW: 1842-1954) 12 April 1940, p. 11.

Here is the full list:

Completely Prohibited

Comic strips, pictorial strips and pulls: Ace Comics, Action Comics, Adventure Comics, All American comics, Amazing Mystery Funnies, Amazing Man Comics, Broncho, Bill Captain and the Kids, Color Comics, Comics, Comic Pages, Comics on Parade, Cowboy Comics, Cracka-Jack Funnies, Ella Cinders, Famous Funnies, Fantastic Comics, Feature Comics, Flash Comics, Fun Comics, Fun for All, Funnies, Funny Pages, Jumbo Comics, Keen Detective Funnies, King Comics, Let's Laugh, Little Mary Mix Up, Magic Comics, Mickey Mouse, More Fun Comics, Mystery Men Comics, New Adventure Comics, Popular Comics, Silver Streak Comics, Smash Comics, Speed Comics, Star Comics, Star Ranger Funnies, Super Comics, Tip Top Comic, Wags, Wonder World Comics, 1,000 New Jokes.

Western and similar fiction: Ace High Action Stories, Adventure, Adventure Novels, Adventure Travels, Adventure Yarns, Air Trails, All America Fiction, All American Sports, All Western, All Sports, Amazing Stories, Argosy, The Avenger, Big Book Western, Best Stories, Best Western, Blue Book, Blue Book of Fiction and Adventure, Blue Ribbon Sports, Blue Ribbon Western, Complete North-west Novels, Complete Cowboy, Complete Sports, Cowboy Short Stories, Cowboy Action Novels, Crack Shot Western, Daredevil Aces, Dime Sports, Dime Western, Doc Savage, Double Action Western, 44 Western, Famous Western, Famous Fantastic Mysteries, Fast Action, Fight Stories, Five Novels, Flying Aces, G8 and His Battle Aces, Greater Western Actions, Gun Smoke Western, Lariat, Lone Eagle, Masked Rider, Western Marvel Tales, Popular Sports, Popular Western, Quick Trigger, Western Railroad Magazine, Range Riders, Real Western, Real Sports, Red Seal Western, Science and Fiction, Short Stories, Six Gun Western, Sky Aces, Sky Devils, Sky Fighters, Sky Raiders, Smashing Western, Sports Action, Sports Afield, Sports Fiction, Sports Novels, Sport Stories, Sports Winners, Star Sports, Star Western, Startling Stories, Super Sports, Sure Fire Western, Ten Story Sports, Ten Story Western, Texas Rangers, Thrilling Adventure, Thrilling Ranch Stories, Thrilling Sports, Thrilling Western, Thrilling Wonder Stories, Twelve Adventure Stories, Twelve Sports Aces, Two Gun Western, Unknown, Variety Western, Western Aces, Western Book, Western Fiction, Western Novel, Western Short Stories, Western Stories, Western Trails, Western Yarns ,Wild West, Wild West and Complete Novels, Wings.

Love and romantic stories: All Story Love, Tales, Complete Love, Cowboy Romances, Love and Romance, Love Book, Love Fiction, Monthly Love Story, Magazine Love Tales, Modern Romances, Popular Love, Ranch Romances, Rangeland Romances, Romance Round Up, Romantic Love Secrets, Romantic Range, Sweetheart Stories, Ten Story Love, Thrilling Love, True Confessions, True Experiences, True Love and Romance, True Romances, True Story, Variety Love Stories, Western Romances.

Motion picture and radio magazines Hollywood, Modern Screen, Motion Picture Magazine, Movie Life, Movie Mirror, Photoplay, Picture Play, Radio Stars, Romantic Movie Screen Album Screen Book, Screen Guide, Screenland, Screen Romances, Silver Screen, Stage.

Illustrated publications: Click, College Humour, Girls' Pic.

Back dated magazines and periodicals: other than those for which licences are issued freely (e.g., religious, etc., and current opinion).

Home and fashion publications: American Home, American Magazine, Canadian Home Journal, Canadian Homes and Gardens, Chic Parisienne (German), Child Life, Colliers Cosmopolitan, Costume and Manteaux (German), Country Gentleman, Country Life, Esquire, Good Housekeeping, Ladies' Home Journal, McCall's -- three magazines in one, Notion and Novelty Review, Red Book, Ring, Saison Parisienne (German), St. Nicholas, The Spur, Town and Country, Vogue, Women's Home Companion, Women's Wear Daily.

Sundry magazines and periodicals: Amateur Athlete, American Business, American Lawn Tennis, American Poultry Journal, American Rifleman, American Restaurant, Arts and Decoration, Astro Digest, Athletic Journal, Auto Body, Automobile and Trailer Travel, Baseball, Beauty and Charm--Beautify Your Figure, Better English, Better Photography, Boot and Shoe Recorder, Boys' Outfitter--Styles of Youth, Bridge World, Broadcasting and Broadcasting Advertising, Bus Transportation, California Citograph, Chemical Gardens and How to Care for Them, Commercial America, Confectioners' Journal, Corset and Underwear Review, Crockery and Glass Journal, Display World, Down Beat, Electrical Merchandising, Field and Stream, Fire Protection, Florists' Exchange, Gardening Without Soil, Golf, Hides and Leather and Shoes, Hunting and Fishing, International Photographer, Leather Manufacturer, Linens and Domestics, Locomotive Engineers' Journal, Man about Town, Manufacturing Confectioner, Men's Wear, Metronome, Modern Packaging, National Cleaner and Dyer, New Ideas, Outdoor Life, Pacific Motor Boating, Popular Aviation, Popular Photography, Physical Culture, Psychology, Science Digest, Soda Fountain Strength and Health Transit Journal, Underwear and Hosiery, Variety, Veneers and Plywood, Wynn's Astrology, World Astrology, Your Life.

Children's books: Alphabet Books, Books of Rhyme, Colouring Books, Picture Books (but not including dual language books), toy books, tracing books, and all other books of similar type to the foregoing from all non-sterling countries.

Importations permitted on subscription

The following publications are to permitted importation on subscription only when imported in single copies through the post:

Home and fashion publications: Atlantic, American Mercury, Butterick Fashion Magazine, California Arts and Architecture, Harper's Bazaar, Harper's Magazine, House Beautiful, McCall's Advanced Paris Styles, McCall's Fashion Book, McCall's Needlework, Saturday Evening Post.

General publications of informative and literary character: Asia, Book Digest, Business Digest, Canadian Geographical Journal, Catholic Digest, Greece and Rome, How to Study and other 'How to' series published by the Book House, New York. Ken, Life, Little Blue Book series, Look, Magazine Digest, National Geographic, Natural History, Nature Magazine, Pan-Pacific Reader's Digest Travel.

Sundry: Aero Digest, The American Automobile, American Builder, American Cinematography, American Hairdresser, American Machinist, American Photograph, Aquarium, Architectural Forum, Architectural Record, Art Instruction, Automobile Digest, Aviation, Brick and Clay Record, The Camera, Camera Craft, Ceramic Industry, Coal Age, Coal Heat, Communications, Coronet, Creative Design, Crispin, Diesel Power and Transportation, Dressmaking Made Easy, Electronics, Engineering and Mining Journal, Engineering News Record, The Etude, Fortune, Handy Man's Home Manual, Heating and Ventilating, House and Garden, How to Build It, How to Build Trailers, Inland Printer, Interior Design and Decoration, International Projectionist, Luggage and Hand Bag Buyer, Machine Design, Machinery Mechanics and Handicraft, Mechanix Illustrated, Minicam, Model Aircraft Builder, Model Airplane News, The Model Aircraftsman, The Model Railroader, Modern Mechanix and Inventions Magazine, Monumental News, Motor Boat, Motor Boating, The New Yorker, Photo Art Monthly, Popular Homecraft, Popular Mechanics Magazine, Popular Mechanics--Shop Notes, Popular Science Monthly--Mechanics and Handicraft, Q.S.T, Amateur Radio, Radio, Radio and Television, Radiocraft, Radio Engineering, Radio Equipment Directory, Radio News, Refrigerating Engineering, Refrigerating Service Engineer, The Rudder, Science and Mechanics, Scientific American, Service (Digest of Radio and Allied Maintenance), Shoe and Leather Reporter, Soaring, Waterworks and Sewerage, Yachting.

Licences to be issued freely

Religious: American Theosophist, American Lutheran, Christian Science Journal, Christian Science Monitor, Christian Science Quarterly, Christian Science Sentinel, Concordia, Theological Monthly, Die Abendschule, The Ecclesiastical Review, The Homiletic and Pastoral Review, The Lutheran Witness, The Messenger.

Learned scientific and learned technical: American Journal of Roentgenology and Radium Therapy, Industrial and Engineering Chemistry, Journal of Motion Picture Magazines, Public Roads, Quarterly Review of Biology, R.C.A. Review, Textile Colorist, 101 Shortwave Hook-up.

Current opinion: Current History, Forum, Time daily and weekly newspapers proper.

Restricted licences

Licences are issuable to the extent of 50 per cent by value of base-year importations on the following-- Butterick Fashion News, McCall's Style News, The Pictorial Fashion Guide, Vogue Patterns.