Harry Chesler (January 12, 1897, or January 12, 1898 (sources differ) – December 1981), often credited as Harry "A" Chesler, with the "A" an affectation rather than a true initial, was the entrepreneur behind the first comic book "packager" of the late-1930s to 1940s Golden Age of comic books, supplying comics features and complete comic books to publishers testing the waters of the emerging medium.
|Harry "A" Chesler|
Chesler in undated photo
January 12, 1897 or January 12, 1898 (sources differ)
Kaunas, Vilna Governorate or Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S. (sources differ)
|Died||December , 1981|
age 83 or 84 (sources differ)
Chesler was born either in Kaunas, Vilna Governorate in January 12, 1897, or, as given by his United States Social Security data, on January 12, 1898, in Jersey City, New Jersey. One source gives his birth name as Aaron Czesler, nicknamed Ari, the phonetic equivalent of Harry. That source says his parents, who were Jewish, married in 1895 and had two other children, Lena (b. 1896) and Sadie (b. 1900); the family immigrated to the U.S. in 1903, changing their name to Chesler.
Most often credited as Harry "A" Chesler — the "A" was an affectation rather than a true initial, and Chesler sometimes quipped it stood for "anything" — Chesler was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, grew up in East Orange, where he graduated from East Orange High School in June 1915. He worked in his father's grocery and in the furniture business. He moved with his family to The Bronx, New York City in 1917. There is father bought a grocery wholesale firm at 1493 Zerega Avenue, with the family living nearby at 2903 Lyon Avenue. Harry Chesler registered for the draft on September 12, 1918, and served as a U.S. Army private during World War I.
In 1919, after his discharge, Chesler returned to New Jersey, where he sold ads for The Jersey Journal and lived at 1463 East 100th Street in Jersey City. He also worked for a time at the Philadelphia Public Ledger, where he picked up his fictitious middle initial. By April 1923, he owned the outdoor advertising firm the Harry "A" Chesler Company of 15 Beecher Street in Newark, New Jersey. In 1928, he bought a 90-acre summer-home property in the Succasunna section of Roxbury Township, New Jersey, and opened a side-business dairy store. He would later live in Succasunna full-time.
In 1935 or 1936, Chesler established a studio in Manhattan to supply comic-book content to publishers testing the waters of the emerging medium. The "Chesler shop" or "Chesler Shop", as it was informally called, was the first such "packager", later to be followed by companies including Eisner & Iger and Funnies Inc. Chesler in 1976 recalled it was located first at Fifth Avenue and 32nd Street, and later at Seventh Avenue and 23rd Street. George Tuska, a comic-book artist who had worked for Chesler in the late 1930s, recalled, "Chelser had his office on the fourth floor of a building on 23rd Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenue[s]". (One source lists the studio at 28th Street and Fifth Avenue.) During this time, Chesler commuted from his home in Dover, New Jersey.
Chesler's early publications Star Comics and Star Ranger were produced through his own Chesler Publications, Inc. These were bought by Ultem Publications in 1937, where he continued as editor until Ultem was in turn bought by Centaur Publications in 1938. By the late 1930s, Chesler's packaging business was flourishing. As Tuska recalled, Chesler "did alright with comics. Bought a lot of property in Jersey. Made his own lake".
Chesler employees remembered him as a tough but warm boss who always wore a hat and smoked a big cigar. Artist Joe Kubert recalled Chesler paying him $5 a week, at age 12 (c. 1938) to apprentice at his studio after school. Similarly, artist Carmine Infantino remembers that, c. 1940, he was paid by Chesler "a dollar a day, just [to] study art, learn, and grow. That was damn nice of him, I thought. He did that for me for a whole summer" while Infantino was in high school.
Chesler's later imprints included Dynamic Publications, Harry "A" Chesler Jr. Publications, and Harry "A." Chesler Feature Jr. Syndicate. The covers of many of his 1940s comics bear the phrase "Harry 'A' Chesler Jr. Features Syndicate, N.Y.". or "Harry 'A' Chesler, Jr. World's Greatest Comics". Comic-book historians sometimes label all such imprints informally "Harry A Chesler Comics." In his heyday, Chesler recalled in a 1976 profile, "besides about 75 of my own titles, we produced comics for some 50 different publishers. At one time, there were 40 artists working for me and I had 300 comic titles on the newsstands." However, the Grand Comics Database records only 19 distinct titles directly published by Chesler between 1937 and 1946, leaving the meaning of "my own titles" in this quote unclear.
His shop employed "a growing group of men who produced scores of strips [and] entire books (often first issues) for nearly every publisher," including Chesler's own Star Comics, Star Ranger, Dynamic Comics, Punch Comics and Yankee Comics. The studio also "[p]roduced the early issues of MLJ Publications Zip Comics, Pep Comics and Top-Notch Comics, Captain Marvel, Master," as well as features for Centaur Comics. Alumni of the Chesler Shop "went on to form the nuclei of various comics art staffs" for a number of different early comics companies; they include Jack Cole, Jack Binder, Otto Binder, Charles Biro, Mort Meskin, Creig Flessel (briefly), Ken Ernst, Bob McCay, Otto Eppers, and many others.
Chesler's comics enterprise was severely affected by World War II. Chesler's main pre-war editor, Phil Sturm, was on active duty for most of the war, severely curtailing the company's ability to produce comics. Chesler's son, Harry A. Chesler, Jr., although listed in the business records as a co-owner in name, was never involved in the publishing business. Evidence from Chesler publications' statements of ownership during the war indicate that Chesler, Jr. was "on leave to the US Army."
The studio was active through 1940, after which it reorganized and ran through at least 1953, though a former Marvel Comics editor-in-chief said in 1981 that from c. 1971–1975, the Chesler studio produced material for the Marvel Comics line of black-and-white magazines.
Chesler married Hannah "Betty" Northay (b. 1897; d. October 16, 1977) on January 4, 1921, with the couple taking up residence at 165 Park Avenue in East Orange, New Jersey. They had two children, sons Harry A. Chesler, Jr. (b. December 9, 1921) and Arthur Bernard Chesler (b. January 26, 1923).
In 1976 Chesler donated over 4,000 pieces of original comic book and comic strip art, much of it dating from the turn of the 20th century, to Fairleigh Dickinson University's Friendship Library. He died in December 1981, still living in Succasunna.
Chesler Publications / Dynamic Publications / Harry "A" Chesler Jr. Publications and related companies
Chesler Publications, Inc., 276 Fifth Avenue, New York City, New York
Dynamic Publications, 163 23rd Street, New York City, New York
Harry A. Chesler Jr. Publications, Inc., 163 23rd Street, New York City, New York
Who were some of the other writers at the Chesler shop...? [...] When did you break away from the Chesler Shop...?CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
Much of this material was created by the first comic-art 'shop,' which had been set up in the summer of 1936 by a farsighted entrepreneur named Harry 'A' Chesler.
A (named , plural As, A's, as, a's or aes) is the first letter and the first vowel of the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet. It is similar to the Ancient Greek letter alpha, from which it derives. The uppercase version consists of the two slanting sides of a triangle, crossed in the middle by a horizontal bar. The lowercase version can be written in two forms: the double-storey a and single-storey ɑ. The latter is commonly used in handwriting and fonts based on it, especially fonts intended to be read by children, and is also found in italic type.
In English grammar, "a", and its variant "an", is an indefinite article.Anarchist symbolism
Anarchists have employed certain symbols for their cause, including most prominently the circle-A (Ⓐ) and the black flag (⚑), although anarchists have historically largely denied the importance of symbols to political movement. Since the revival of anarchism around the start of the 21st century and concurrent with the rise of the anti-globalization movement, anarchist cultural symbols are widely present.Bob Wood (comics)
Robert L. Wood (June 14, 1917 – November 7, 1966), was an American comics illustrator. Wood worked for the Harry "A" Chesler Company and provided art for multiple companies, including MLJ Magazines and Lev Gleason Publications. In 1942, Wood and Charles Biro co-created Crime Does Not Pay, a series largely credited with beginning the "crime comics" trend in the industry. Wood's personal life was marred by drinking and gambling addictions, and he served a total of three years and eight months in prison between 1958 and 1963 for manslaughter. A few years after his release, Wood was struck by a car and killed.Centaur Publications
Centaur Publications (also known as Centaur Comics) (1938–1942) was one of the earliest American comic book publishers. During their short existence, they created several colorful characters, including Bill Everett's Amazing-Man.Charles Biro
Charles Biro (May 12, 1911 – March 4, 1972) was an American comic book creator and cartoonist. He is today chiefly known for creating the comic book characters Airboy and Steel Sterling, and for his 16-year run on the acclaimed 1940s series Daredevil Comics for Lev Gleason Publications.Enclosed Alphanumerics
Enclosed Alphanumerics is a Unicode block of typographical symbols of an alphanumeric within a circle, a bracket or other not-closed enclosure, or ending in a full stop. There is another block for these characters (U+1F100—U+1F1FF), encoded in the Supplementary Multilingual Plane, which contains the set of Regional Indicator Symbols as of Unicode 6.0.Feature Comics
Feature Comics was a comic book anthology title published in the United States by Quality Comics from 1939 until 1950, that featured short stories in the superhero and humor genres. The series was a continuation of Feature Funnies, a reprint collection of newspaper comic strips that was published by Harry "A" Chesler between 1937 and 1939, for twenty issues. Feature Comics continued the numbering with issue #21, and ran until #144.Fraktur
Fraktur (German: [fʁakˈtuːɐ̯] (listen)) is a calligraphic hand of the Latin alphabet and any of several blackletter typefaces derived from this hand. The blackletter lines are broken up; that is, their forms contain many angles when compared to the smooth curves of the Antiqua (common) typefaces modeled after antique Roman square capitals and Carolingian minuscule. From this, Fraktur is sometimes contrasted with the "Latin alphabet" in northern European texts, which is sometimes called the "German alphabet", simply being a typeface of the Latin alphabet. Similarly, the term "Fraktur" or "Gothic" is sometimes applied to all of the blackletter typefaces (known in German as Gebrochene Schrift, "Broken Script").
Here is the English alphabet in Fraktur:
𝕬 𝕭 𝕮 𝕯 𝕰 𝕱 𝕲 𝕳 𝕴 𝕵 𝕶 𝕷 𝕸 𝕹 𝕺 𝕻 𝕼 𝕽 𝕾 𝕿 𝖀 𝖁 𝖂 𝖃 𝖄 𝖅
𝖆 𝖇 𝖈 𝖉 𝖊 𝖋 𝖌 𝖍 𝖎 𝖏 𝖐 𝖑 𝖒 𝖓 𝖔 𝖕 𝖖 𝖗 𝖘 𝖙 𝖚 𝖛 𝖜 𝖝 𝖞 𝖟The word derives from Latin fractūra ("a break"), built from fractus, passive participle of frangere ("to break"), the same root as the English word "fracture".Fred Schwab
Fred Schwab (August 25, 1917 – May 13, 2000) was an American cartoonist whose humor panels and short features were published in a wide variety of comic books from at least 1938 to 1950, during a period fans and historians call the Golden Age of Comic Books. His notable comic-book appearances include Timely Comics' Marvel Comics #1 (Oct. 1939), the first publication of the company that would become Marvel Comics; and some of the earliest publications of the companies that would become DC Comics.H. G. Peter
Harry George Peter (March 8, 1880 – 1958), usually cited as H. G. Peter, was a newspaper illustrator and cartoonist known for his work on the Wonder Woman comic book and for Bud Fisher of the San Francisco Chronicle.List of Golden Age comics publishers
List of Golden Age of Comics publishers. The Golden Age of Comic Books was a period in the history of American comic books, generally thought of as lasting from the late 1930s until the late 1940s or early 1950s. During this time, modern comic books were first published and enjoyed a surge of popularity; the archetype of the superhero was created and defined; and many of the most famous superheroes debuted.
Comics "packagers", often operated by notable artists such as Will Eisner and Jack Binder, also formed during this time, to supply cheaply produced material to the burgeoning comics industry.
The first publisher in this category was Dell Comics, established in 1929 although they started to publish modern comic books in 1935. This list ends in the mid-1950s, when many publishers went out of business due to the scapegoating of comics by psychiatrist Fredric Wertham and Senator Estes Kefauver, and the creation of the self-censoring body the Comics Code Authority in 1954. The debut of the new superhero the Flash in 1956 is generally considered the beginning of the Silver Age of Comic Books.
Of the Golden Age publishers in this list, only a handful survived past 1960, and only three are still currently in business:
Crestwood Publications (1943–1963)
American Comics Group (1943–1967)
Dell Comics (1929–1973)
Charlton Comics (1946–1986)
Harvey Comics (1941–1986)
Archie Comics (1939 to present)
Marvel Comics (formerly Timely Comics, 1939 to present)
National Allied Publications (later DC Comics, 1934 to present)Mac Raboy
Emmanuel "Mac" Raboy (April 17, 1914 – December 12, 1967) was an American comics artist best known for his comic-book work on Fawcett Comics' Captain Marvel Jr. and as the Sunday comic-strip artist of Flash Gordon for more than 20 years. Born in New York City, Raboy began his art career with the Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression. In the 1940s he began working with the Harry A. Chesler studio of comics artists. Raboy began drawing comic books and gained fame as the illustrator for Captain Marvel, Jr. and the Green Lama. Raboy was a great admirer of Alex Raymond, and "kept a portfolio of Alex Raymond's "Flash Gordon" comics by his side for inspiration and guidance as he worked". In the spring of 1946, King Features hired Raboy to continue the Sunday page adventures of Flash Gordon, which he continued to work on until his death. Drew Friedman has stated, "Raboy was an expert technician with pen and brush, and his lush covers are some of the most unusually beautiful ever to grace comic books".Ordinal indicator
In written languages, an ordinal indicator is a character, or group of characters, following a numeral denoting that it is an ordinal number, rather than a cardinal number.
In English orthography, this corresponds to the suffixes -st, -nd, -rd, -th in written ordinals (represented either on the line 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th or as superscript, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th).
Also commonly encountered are the superscript (and often underlined) ordinal indicators º and ª, originally from Romance, but via the cultural influence of Italian by the 18th century widely used in the wider cultural sphere of Western Europe, as in
1º primo and 1ª prima "first, chief; prime quality".
The practice of underlined (or doubly underlined) superscripted abbreviations was common in 19th-century writing (not limited to ordinal indicators in particular, and also extant in the numero sign №), and was also found in handwritten English until at least the late 19th century (e.g. "first" abbreviated 1st or 1st).Otto Eppers
Otto Eppers was an American cartoonist and illustrator active from the 1920s to 1950s. He is also known for a 1910 stunt in which he jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge.Quality Comics
Quality Comics was an American comic book publishing company which operated from 1937 to 1956 and was a creative, influential force in what historians and fans call the Golden Age of Comic Books.
Notable, long-running titles published by Quality include Blackhawk, Feature Comics, G.I. Combat, Heart Throbs, Military Comics, Modern Comics, Plastic Man, Police Comics, Smash Comics, and The Spirit. While most of their titles were published by a company named Comic Magazines, from 1940 onwards all publications bore a logo that included the word "Quality". Notable creators associated with the company included Jack Cole, Reed Crandall, Will Eisner, Lou Fine, Gill Fox, Paul Gustavson, Bob Powell, and Wally Wood.Succasunna, New Jersey
Succasunna is an unincorporated community and census-designated place (CDP) located within Roxbury Township, in Morris County, New Jersey, United States, serving as its downtown and population center, having a population of 9,152 people as of the 2010 United States Census.Unicode subscripts and superscripts
Unicode has subscripted and superscripted versions of a number of characters including a full set of Arabic numerals. These characters allow any polynomial, chemical and certain other equations to be represented in plain text without using any form of markup like HTML or TeX.
The World Wide Web Consortium and the Unicode Consortium have made recommendations on the choice between using markup and using superscript and subscript characters: "When used in mathematical context (MathML) it is recommended to consistently use style markup for superscripts and subscripts.... However, when super and sub-scripts are to reflect semantic distinctions, it is easier to work with these meanings encoded in text rather than markup, for example, in phonetic or phonemic transcription."Walter Cole Brigham
Walter Cole Brigham (January 11, 1870 – August 7, 1941) was an American artist, now best known for his innovative stained glass techniques incorporating transparent shells, pebbles, and beach glass, and for his illustrations of pulp magazines.
Brigham was born in Baltimore, Maryland, to Marion B. and William Theodore Brigham, who owned the Swift Meat Packing Company of Baltimore and the Greenport Shipbuilding Company of Shelter Island, New York. As a child, he lived at 406 Pressman Street in Baltimore. In 1888 he graduated from high school and entered Johns Hopkins University, but became ill in 1892 and did not complete his degree. He also studied at the Decorative and Maryland Institute Schools, received art training from André Castaigne, and later studied with William Merritt Chase (1849-1916) at the Art Students League.
On December 8, 1892, the World's Fair Commission chose his design for the Maryland Medal. In 1898 he spent a year in Florence, Italy, studying art, returning in 1899 to his parents' home on Shelter Island. In 1906 he completed a stained glass window in memory of Brooklyn banker Frederick A. Schroeder in the Union Chapel in the Grove on Shelter Island, and in 1909 he created a similar design for actor William Gillette's houseboat.
On September 23, 1911, he married Jeanette Lawson, with whom he had two sons. By 1926 he had begun to illustrate magazines, including Ginger, Pep, and Hot Stuff, and in 1928 his work began to appear in pulp magazines, including covers for Clues Detective Stories, The Dragnet, Rangeland Love, Popular Engineering Stories, and The Underworld. From 1935 to 1939 his drawings appeared in comic books produced by Centaur Comics, Harry "A" Chesler, DC Comics and Dell Publishing.
Brigham died in 1941 at Shelter Harbor.