Novelty Press (a.k.a. Premium Service Co., Inc.; a.k.a. Novelty Publications; a.k.a. Premier Group) was an American Golden Age comic-book publisher that operated from 1940–1949. It was the comic book imprint of Curtis Publishing Company, publisher of The Saturday Evening Post. Although published in Philadelphia, Novelty Press's editorial offices were in New York City. Among Novelty's best-known titles were Blue Bolt and Target Comics.
Novelty Press launched its first title, Target Comics, in 1940, followed shortly thereafter by Blue Bolt. In 1949, due to the growing criticism over violence in comic books, Novelty Press sold its assets to Blue Bolt cover artist L.B. Cole. Using his new assets, Cole began his own company, Star Publications. During their nine-year run, Novelty's roster of creators included Al Avison, Dan Barry, Carl Burgos, L.B. Cole, Bill Everett, Al Gabriele, Joe Gill, Tom Gill, Jack Hearne, Jack Kirby, Tarpé Mills, Al Plastino, Don Rico, Joe Simon, Mickey Spillane, and Basil Wolverton.
Target Comics debuted with a cover date of February 1940, featuring such stars as Bull's-Eye Bill, Lucky Byrd, and The White Streak (Target's only superhero). Material for the book was supplied by Funnies, Inc., a packager also responsible for many of Marvel Comics' early characters. Creators included Bill Everett, Joe Simon, and Tarpé Mills. Basil Wolverton's Spacehawk (which originated in Circus comics) made its Target Comics debut with issue #5, and ran for many issues.
It wasn't until the tenth issue (November 1940) that The Target himself was introduced, and only in issue #11 did The Targeteers come along. They were the creation of cartoonist Dick Briefer, using the pen name of "Dick Hamilton." (Briefer was the man behind the Prize Comics version of Frankenstein.) Target & the Targeteers were among the longer-lasting superheroes of the 1940s, but even they eventually succumbed to changing times. They made their last appearance in Target Comics #95. Just as the title had begun without them, it went on for another ten issues with other stars. In recent years, The Target appeared without his partners in Men of Mystery Comics #24, published by AC Comics, which makes it their business to reprint Golden Age comics from now-defunct companies whose properties have lapsed into the public domain. In 2008, The Target and the Targeteers are among the many public domain characters to appear in Project Superpowers, a miniseries from Dynamite Entertainment.
The title character superhero was created by Joe Simon, and Blue Bolt #2 (July 1940) featured the first pairing of legendary Marvel cartoonists Simon and Kirby. The two teamed for fewer than twelve issues, turning over the book to successors including Dan Barry, Tom Gill, and Mickey Spillane — before his creation of the detective character Mike Hammer in novels. (A reprint collection of the Simon & Kirby issues of Blue Bolt was published by Verotik in 1998 ISBN 978-1885730404.) Malcolm Kildale's Sgt. Spook, an undead detective, was a regular backup feature in Blue Bolt for most of its run. Blue Bolt ran for 110 issues, the first 102 published by Novelty Press, and the rest published by Star Publications.
This anthology title was Novelty's answer to DC Comics' World's Finest Comics or All American's Comic Cavalcade. Regular features of 4 Most included Cadet, Dan'l Flannel, Edison Bell, and Lem the Grem, the "Trouble-Loving Gremlin".
Young King Cole
This anthology title was headlined by one the comic genre's first private detectives. Regular backup features included Doctor Doom, "The Resourceful Professor of Criminology"; Foxy, "Office Boy in the Detective Bureau"; Homer K. Beagle, "The Demon Detective"; Larry Broderick, "City Detective"; and Tony Gayle, "Glamorous Detective Model".
Dick Cole, The Wonder Boy
A popular backup feature in Blue Bolt (and later 4 Most), Dick Cole had his own title from 1948 to 1950 (the first five issues published by Novelty Press; the rest were published by Star Publications). Dick Cole was created by cartoonist Bob Davis (The Chameleon), but others who handled the character include Al Fagaly (Super Duck), James Wilcox (Dolly O'Dare), and Jack Hearne (The Cadet).
- 4 Most — 36 issues, 1941–1949
- Blue Bolt — 110 issues, 1940–1951
- Dick Cole, The Wonder Boy — 10 issues, 1948-1949
- Frisky Fables — 37 issues, 1945–49
- Guns Against Gangsters — 8 issues, 1948–1949
- Humdinger — 8 issues, 1946–1947
- Target Comics — 105 issues, 1940–1949
- Young King Cole (later changed to Criminals on the Run) — 24 issues, 1945-1948
Regular backup features
- Bull's-Eye Bill (Target Comics)
- Cadet (4 Most)
- Dan'l Flannel (4 Most)
- Dick Cole, The Wonder Boy (4 Most and Blue Bolt)
- Doctor Doom (Young King Cole)
- Edison Bell (4 Most)
- Foxy (Young King Cole)
- Homer K. Beagle (Young King Cole)
- Larry Broderick (Young King Cole)
- Lem the Grem (4 Most)
- Lucky Byrd (Target Comics)
- Sgt. Spook (Blue Bolt)
- Target and the Targeteers (4 Most and Target Comics)
- Tony Gayle (Young King Cole)
- The White Streak (Target Comics)
- ↑ Markstein, Don. "Blue Bolt," Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Retrieved July 11, 2008.
- ↑ Markstein, Don. Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Retrieved July 11, 2008.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 Markstein, Don. "Target & the Targeteers," Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Retrieved July 11, 2008.
- ↑ Overstreet, Robert M. Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, vol. 33. House of Collectibles, 2003.
- ↑ "The Reading Room Index: an Index to the Holdings of the Michigan State University Libraries Comic Art Collection," Michigan State University Libraries, Special Collections Division. Retrieved July 12, 2008.
- ↑ Markstein, Don. "Sgt. Spook," Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Retrieved July 11, 2008.
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 Markstein, Don. "Dick Cole, The Boy Wonder," Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Retrieved July 11, 2008.
- ↑ Markstein, Don. "Young King Cole," Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Retrieved July 11, 2008.
- ↑ Smith, Kevin Burton, "Young King Cole," The Thrilling Detective website. Retrieved July 11, 2008.
- Coville, Jamie, "Newsstand Period 1922 - 1955," TheComicsBooks.com.
- Grand Comics Database Project: Novelty Press
- Markstein, Don, Don Markstein's Toonopedia.
- "The Reading Room Index: an Index to the Holdings of the Michigan State University Libraries Comic Art Collection," Michigan State University Libraries, Special Collections Division.
- Smith, Kevin Burton, "Young King Cole," The Thrilling Detective website.