By the end of 1942 all 7 main Bell Features titles were in place. These included Action Comics, Commando Comics, Dime Comics, The Funny Comics, Joke Comics, Triumph Comics, and Wow Comics. All but a handful had no date of issue reference on them. When I talk about Bell Features comics, I include the Hillborough Studios Triumphs and the Commercial Signs Books before the company started calling itself Bell Features in May of 1942.
It’s well-known that the cover and indicia dates of Triumph Comics No. 1 is August, 1941 and that the cover and indicia dates for Wow Comics No. 1 is September, 1941. Dime Comics No. 1 and Active Comics No. 1 both have indicia dates of February, 1942. Joke Comics No. 1 is still a Commercial Signs book prior to the changeover to Bell Features in May 1942 but it has no date. The remaining titles, Funny Comics No. 1 and Commando Comics No. 1 have no indicia dates but are Bell Features titles so they come after May, 1942. From ads that appear for these last two No. 1 titles in other Bell titles, we can determine that The Funny Comics No. 1 came out in the summer of 1942 and that Commando Comics No. 1 came out in the Fall of 1942.
In the last year, 1946, of the WECA period Bell Features, for a short period, felt compelled to list the date of the first issue of each title in that title’s indicia. We have to leave The Funny Comics out of this collection because it seems to have folded with issue 20 before the end of World War II and before the summer of 1945.
The idicia on the back covers of Active Comics No. 27 and Dime Comics 28 each confirms that the date of the first issues of each of those titles was February 1, 1942. Similarly, the indicia on the back cover of Wow Comics 30 gives the date of the first issue of that title as September 1, 1941.
After this, however, we begin to learn something new. The indicia on the back cover of Joke Comics No. 26 give the date for the first issue of Joke Comics as March 15, 1942 and the indicia on the back cover of the last issue of Commando Comics (No. 22) gives the date of that title’s first issue as October 17, 1942.
The real mystery is what is said in the indicia that appear on the back cover of Triumph Comics No. 31. Here the date of the first issue of Triumph Comics is given as June 20, 1941, which may indicate that this is the actual date that the book appeared on the stands rather than the August publication date that appears on Triumph Comics No. 1’s cover and indicia–this, along with the question as to why Bell Features finds it necessary, in 1946, to officially state the first issue dates for its titles in the indicia for the comics it issued in that year.