Wags Pages for All Ages
- v1#1 (1936) to v4#44 (1940)
- No. issues
- Comic series
The Australian Wags was created when the Herald and Weekly Times group (Melbourne) approached Joshua Bryant Powers to print a weekly comic for the Australian market. The comic was produced and printed in the US and distributed in Australia by United Press, part of the Herald and Weekly group.
The first issue was released as early as Monday 7 September 1936 (see Advertiser advertisement). However, a West Australian advertisement on Sunday 3 October says "now on sale". Issues appear to have been distributed at different times across Australia, up to a month apart (possibly explaining undated issues). The day of release moved from the initial Monday/Tuesday to Friday by early 1937.
The first 12 months of the series included only newspaper strips. Throughout the run, strips included Tarzan (Hal Foster and Burne Hogarth), Dick Tracy, Ally Oop, Terry and the Pirates, Little Orphan Annie, Moon Mullins, Bronco Bill, Myra North, Smilin’ Jack, Freckles and his Friends, Tailspin Tommy, Smokey Stover, Otto Hank, Broncho Bill, and Salesman Sam.
An advertisement in late 1936 reports the publication of "Three Years with Thunderbolt", the story of early Australian bushranging days ('Advertising' (21 November 1936). The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld: 1933-1954), p. 20. Retrieved 14 October 2017, from nla.gov.au/nla.news-article37021466.) This was part of Wags' text story supplement.
An additional eight pages of black and white comics was added in August 1937 according to John Ryan. The black and white material was predominantly by the recently formed Eisner-Igor shop for Editors Press Service. Many of these features appeared first in this Australian edition and its UK equivalent.
Eisner-Igor shop features included:
Sheena Queen of the Jungle, written by Jerry Iger (as W. Morgan-Thomas) with art by Mort Meskin and Bob Powell.
Hawks of the Seas, by Will Eisner (as Willis Rensie).
Yarko the Great, by Will Eisner.
Scrappy, by Will Eisner.
Peter Pupp, by Bob Kane.
The Clock Strikes, by Gio. E. Brenner and Ed Cronin.
Spencer Steel, by Dennis Collebrook (pseudonym) and occasionally Bob Powell.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame, by Dick Briefer.
The Count of Monte Cristo, by Jack Kirby (as Jack Curtiss) and later Lou Fine (as Jack Cortez).
The Diary of Dr. Haward, by Jack Kirby.
Wilton of the West, by Jack Kirby.
Gallant Knight, by Vernon Henkel.
Tex Maxon, by Munson Paddock.
Dating for the series is uncertain, although printed strips help determine the earliest possible date of publication. The series has been reported to run v1#1-52; v2#1-56; v3#1-52; v4#1-44. However, it seems the first volume included more than 52 issues. If strictly weekly, the final issue would be mid 1940, however reprinted newspaper strips suggest the final issue was toward the end of 1940. Contemporary newspaper advertisements show a break in import supply mid volume 1 in June-July 1937 (see Courier-Mail advertisement).
Some issues of Wags included supplements with text story serials.
The War Act stopped the importation of paper into Australia in 1940, possibly causing the series' demise. John Ryan also reports wartime cuts in paper supply from Canada could have curtailed production.
John Ryan reports that after the price rose to 3d in 1940, the Herald began binding four returned/undistributed copies into a soft cover for sale at 1/-.
A British version of Wags ran 88 issues, 1 January 1937 to 4 November 1938. Although UK comics historian Denis Gifford has stated the UK version 'continues publication in Australia', there does not appear to be any direct relationship between the UK and Australian editions other than common source material. The timing, page length and mix of contents vary.
For useful further information, see Return to Wonderful Wags of Oz.