Wags Pages for All Ages

Joshua B. Powers, Inc.

United States


v1#1 (1936) to v1#44 (1940)
No. issues
Comic series
Available issues


Australian Wags was created when the Herald and Weekly Times group secured from Joshua Bryant Powers (Editors Press Service) a weekly tabloid-size comic for the Australian market.

Wags was produced by Joshua B. Powers Inc in New York, printed by Eastern Color Printing Co. in Connecticut and distributed in Australia by United Press, part of the Herald and Weekly group.

All issues of Wags are undated. Based on contemporary newspaper advertisments, the first issue was released in Adelaide on Monday 7 September 1936 (The Advertiser). However, that issue went on sale in Melbourne the following day and in Perth on 30 September (The Daily News). Issues appear to have been distributed at different times across Australia, possibly explaining why the issues were undated.

Initially, the regularly advertised day of release was Tuesday. From about 17 April, Was was advertised as available Monday.

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 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. Many of these features appeared first in the UK Wags or the Australian version before being reformatted for US titles from Fiction House and Fox.

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.

The series ran v1#1-52; v2#1-56; v3#1-52; v4#1-44. Due to the lack of printed publication dates, release dates are uncertain, although contemporary newspaper reports and dates on printed strips help determine likely dates. If consistently weekly, the final issue would be mid 1940.

Contemporary newspaper advertisements show a break in import supply mid volume 1 in June-July 1937 (see Courier-Mail advertisement). It could be significant that this delay in delivery exactly aligns to the start of Eisner-Igor work, which Powers reportedly sourced due to supply problems with other strips. However, Australian distribution might have subsequently caught up. If a regular weekly schedule is assumed, the first appearance of 3d price stickers aligns with promotions showing a new 3d price from 5 January 1940 (http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article35658636).

From (probably) 17 November 1936, the Wags Storyteller Supplement was introduced featuring eight pages of serialised text stories, including the novels Three Years with Thunderbolt (by Ambrose Pratt), Wilson at the Wheel (by Arthur Russell) and The Isle of Missing 'Planes (by Andrew H. Walpole), intersperced with short humour (http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article244660463). The supplement ran until at least the start of April 1937.

From 2 April 1940, the Australian government banned the importation of publications issued in non-sterling countries to conserve dollar exchange. As part of the complete prohibition on all 'comic strips pictorial strips and pulls', Wags was explicity included on the ban list (http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article17654430). However, the series continued until mid-year, possibly due to shipments alread en route that were permitted entry as they could not be cancelled (http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2526332).

After the price rose from 2d to 3d in January 1940 (initially through the addition of price stickers), the Herald began binding four returned/undistributed copies into a soft cover for sale at 1/-. The first rebound edition of the Wags Book of Comics included Wags v4#22 to v4#25.

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 was no direct relationship between the UK and Australian editions, other than common source material. The timing, page length and mix of contents vary. The material was typically published in the UK edition several months before the Australian edition.

For further information, see thecomicsdetective.blogspot.com.au/.../...-oz.html.


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