Sunday, September 18, 2016

Allen Bellman: The Brooklyn Eagle (1938-1940)

Back when I originally interviewed Timely's Allen Bellman in 2001, he mentioned how he'd been a regular teen contributor to the "Aunt Jean" page of the long defunct Brooklyn Eagle newspaper. That all-encompassing interview, originally published in the May/04, #32 issue of Roy Thomas' Alter Ego magazine, can be seen HERE.

Over the years, the fact that I could not find those appearances bothered me to no end. Recently I decided to try again, locating the archives of the newspaper by way of a tip from a friend. Happily, this is now what I can present. From 4/27/38 to 10/4/40, Allen appeared 20 different times, including 4 cartoons published! I uploaded the cartoons to accompany the published interview but want now to show all the appearances, including the entire page (for context) and cropping down as needed to isolate Allen's contributions and mentions. And you'll be happy to see some additional surprises that turned up!  So without further ado, here we go.............

Allen Bellman in the Brooklyn Eagle:

Note that all references to Allen are by his original name Isidore. Here he is at the age of 15, the exact time of these appearances, working in the family bakery, the Bellman Brothers, in Brooklyn.

Brooklyn Eagle - April 27, 1938:

Allen's first appearance at age 13 has him listed in a "drawing honor roll" of the Aunt Jean column.

Brooklyn Eagle - April 23, 1939:

Now 14, Allen organized the "Penman Cartoon Club".

Brooklyn Eagle - May 14, 1939:

Still 14, Allen is offering his services as an artist for other member's stories within the club..

This page additional features a teen contribution by future comic book artist Jerry Fasano

Fasano was a member of the Funnies Inc. shop in 1945-46 and did a smattering of work for Eastern Color, Hillman, Lev Gleason, Quality and Ziff-Davis from 1948-1952. For Timely/Atlas, the only appearance he made was a signed one-page service ad that ran in a few Jan/51 and Feb/51 cover dated issues: Love Romances #14 (Jan/51), Love Tales #44 (Jan/51), Lovers #31 (Jan/51), My Own Romance #14 (Jan/51), Adventures Into Terror #44 (#2) (Feb/51), Spy Cases #28 (#3) (Feb/51), Venus #12 (Feb/51), and War Comics #2 (Feb/51).

One additional Timely/Atlas era story I suspect may be him, #5402 "Death Be My Destiny" in Girl Comics #1 (Oct/49).

Brooklyn Eagle - June 18, 1939:

Just turned 15, this entry features a panel cartoon by Allen, down at the lower left hand corner of the page!

Brooklyn Eagle - July 19, 1939:

Another Honor Roll call.

Brooklyn Eagle - Sept 10, 1939:

A second panel cartoon by 15 year old Allen at the upper left corner of the page.

Brooklyn Eagle - October 8, 1939:

Alan and club friend Elliot Sadoff start a comic magazine, are soliciting contributions.

Brooklyn Eagle - October 18, 1939:

Another Honor Roll call.

Brooklyn Eagle - November 12, 1939:

A third panel cartoon by Allen at the lower right hand corner.

Brooklyn Eagle - November 15, 1939:

Yet another Honor Roll call.

Brooklyn Eagle - December 9, 1939:

A fourth panel cartoon by Allen.

Brooklyn Eagle - December 31, 1939:

A second mention of Allan and Elliot's comic magazine, including the names of the features contained therein, "Rocky Reeves", "Dutchy Medwick", "The Frog", and "Mr. Meek".

Brooklyn Eagle - January 7, 1940:

A third mention of Alan and Elliot's comic magazine.

Brooklyn Eagle - April 7, 1940:

I don't know if this is the same club or magazine but the mention is for a "cartoon club" with a weekly publication.

The April 7, 1940 edition has the additional surprise of sporting a beautiful illustration by future comic book artist Sam Glanzman at the age of 15. Glanzman was so talented at such an early age that he was already working in comics part-time this year, drawing features in Centaur's Amazing Man Comics. His career in comics was too long and too voluminous to list here in any detail but know that he worked all over the industry up through the 1970's for all the major companies (except Timely/Atlas!), including Charlton, DC, Dell, Harvel., Lev Gleason, Toby and Warren. His most acknowledged work may be the incredible war stories he rendered for DC's war titles, including Haunted Tank, Our Army At War and Our Fighting Forces. 

Sam's brother Lewis (there was also a third brother, David) got his artistic training in comics working primarily for Centaur from 1939-1941. He later had a long art career as a painter and commercial artist. But he did do one single thing for Timely in 1940, a one-page filler in Marvel Mystery Comics #9 (July/40) called "The Underworld".

Brooklyn Eagle - May 12, 1940:

The club gets a more formal sounding name, the "United Artists Amateur Cartoonists Club".

Brooklyn Eagle - May 15, 1940:

Another Honor Roll call.

Brooklyn Eagle - May 19, 1940:

A name change to the "United Amateur Cartoonists Association" with Milton Caniff as an honorary president. Officers are.....

Honorary President: Milton Caniff
President: I. A. Bellman (Isidore Allen Bellman)
Vice President: Elliot Sadoff
Secretary/Treasurer: Sam Burlockoff

Brooklyn Eagle - July 7, 1940:

A visit to the Brooklyn Eagle's editorial cartoonist Vincent Svoboda. Both Isidore (Allen) and Elliot want to make art their careers. Allen is now 16 years old.

Vincent Svoboda was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia in 1877. Although he came to the United States as a child, he later studied art in both Prague and Paris, where he worked with Mucha, the Czechoslovakian poster artist. He won Salmagundi awards in 1925 and 1927, illustrated for The New York American, Harper's Magazine and The Saturday Evening Post. In the 1920's he also illustrated movie posters. Svoboda joined the Daily Eagle's editorial staff on June 28, 1940, replacing John Cassel. He worked there until 1951, passing away in 1961.

His first cartoon for the paper appeared the next day, Sunday June 29.

Svoboda remained the Brooklyn Eagle's primary editorial cartoonist until early 1951. Here is one of his last efforts, working out of a courtroom as a sketch artist on a corruption trial. January 4, 1951...


Brooklyn Eagle - August 4, 1940:

16 year old Allen has a new home address and is looking for art pen-pals. The Aunt Jean page acknowledges contributions to the paper in the past.

Famous Funnies #76  - November 1940 (on sale in August):
Following the last entry above, Allen next appeared in the editorial page of Famous Funnies #76 (Nov/40). I placed the order here because it was actually on the newsstands 3 months earlier, approximately August. This item still may be misplaced as Allen's address of 212 East 34th street below is the same as his address used in the May issues of the Brooklyn Eagle. So Allen's notice to the magazine may have been from at least 5 months earlier.

Brooklyn Eagle - October 4, 1940:

"The United Amateur Cartoonist Association", started by Allen and Elliot in March 1939, gets billing in a "regular" newspaper article. The club's publication, The Cartoon Journal, has recently published its third issue and Honorary President Milton Caniff himself comments, "I hope you will accept my congratulations on your enterprise in bringing to the amateur cartoonists the interesting data which is so hard to find in any standard publications over the country." It's interesting to note that editor Ralph Brandt printed the journal out of his home in Texas for the club!

Honorary President: Milton Caniff
President: Isidore Allen Bellman
Vice President: Elliot Sadoff
Secretary/Treasurer: Sam Burlockoff
Editor: Ralph Brandt

This last entry mentions the amateur Cartoon Journal Allen published, with over 200 country-wide subscribers. Note that Allen's childhood friend Sam Burlockoff is Secretary-Treasurer. Burlockoff would go on to have a fruitful career in comics, drawing for Archie, DC, Eastern Color, Fawcett, Harvey, Hillman, Lev Gleason, Quality, St. John's, Stanmor and Toby. For Atlas, Burlockoff drew five stories in these issues.....

Adventures Into Weird Worlds #28 (Apr/54)

Battlefront #12 (July/53)

Men's Adventures #20 (Apr/53)

Secret Story Romances #5 (Mar/54)

Uncanny Tales #10 (July/53)

As they fell out of touch over the decades, Allen thought his childhood friend long since passed away when I found Allen down in Florida in 1998. At the time I was interviewing him formally, I learned that Jim Amash was simultaneously interviewing Sam for Alter Ego and we were able to put the two long-lost friends together one last time before Sam's passing in 2007.

Honorary President, the great Milton Caniff, was then in the midst of his glorious run on Terry and the Pirates, then running in the New York Daily News. Caniff probably influenced more prospective young artists than any other artist working. Every kid wanted to be Milton Caniff when they grew up! Allen included! Following the death of character Raven Sherman on October 16, 1941, 17 year old Allen wrote Caniff about the event. Incredibly, this very year comics scholar and researcher Carol Tilley found the very letter Allen wrote among the Caniff archives at Ohio State University!!

When I interviewed Allen in 2001, he talked about Milton Caniff extensively.......

"Oh boy, he was one of my heroes! I used to eat, sleep and dream Milton Caniff. Everytime the New York Daily News would come out, they had a morning and night edition that sold for two cents, I'd cut out the Caniff and put it into a scrapbook. I started a cartoonist's club in my junior high school, corresponding with him and when he started answering my letters, I was in heaven! He wrote articles for us and we put out a little newspaper called The Cartoon Journal. Some kid out in the midwest printed it for us and we paid him 50 cents. He used a toy rubber printing set where every letter was set by hand."

"In essence, Caniff asked us to look around and see what was "hot" and take it from there, that we should be aware of what was popular at the time. He wrote on pink stationary and in gray lettering. I ate, slept and dreamed of Milton Caniff. Years later I would meet him at the National Cartoonist Society annual Ruben Award affair held at the Waldorf Astoria. It didn't go as I'd hoped! I was waiting for my date outside the rest rooms at the Waldorf when Caniff came out of the men's room. I approached him "Mr. Caniff", giving him the respect due him. Before I could even finish he said, "excuse me, I have friends waiting for me." I was wearing a tux same as he. I took a shower that day and changed my socks! Wow! My hero snubbed me!"

Milton Caniff's Terry and the Pirates on the back page of the February 22, 1944 New York Sunday News comics. Allen would have read this one right off the Brooklyn newsstands!

By the fall of 1942, Allen was ready to enter the comic book industry. Allen has told the story numerous times how he saw an ad in the New York Times put there probably by someone in authority realizing that the war was pulling away a lot of established art talent. It could have been Stan Lee, it could have been Robbie could have been Martin Goodman himself. The ad, according to Allen, was seeking a background artist for Captain America Comics.

Captain America was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. They produced the first 10 issues of the feature (and related features) themselves utilizing a small "shop" of help, including Al Avison, Al Gabriele, Syd Shores, Charles Nicholas, Reed Crandall and even Mort Meskin (on one issue). When Simon and Kirby discovered that publisher Martin Goodman had reneged on his verbal promise of royalties (the book was an enormous hit!), they sought work elsewhere at DC. When Goodman found out he immediately fired them. Al Avison became the primary Captain America pencil artist with Syd Shore his primary inker. By the fall of 1942 Syd Shores assumed penciling duties soon joined by Vince Alascia as his inker. This duo would helm the majority of the title character's main story throughout the 1940's.

On his father's urging Allen answered the ad on Columbus Day, 1942, going up to room 1010 of the McGraw Hill Building on a holiday.....and the rest is history! Allen was hired on staff and would start as as a background artist on the Shores/Alascia Captain America feature and soon branch out into other books and other features, at one time or another, probably participating in nearly every character Timely would publish, including Captain America.  When the staff was fired at the end of the decade, Allen joined the Lev Gleason staff for a time and began freelancing again for Stan Lee up through 1953. During these "Atlas" years, Allen would draw in every genre Atlas published...horror, science fiction, western, crime, war and romance, with my favorite being the wonderful space opera "Jet Dixon of the Space Squadron" appearing in the title Space Squadron/Space Worlds. Allen's "Atlas" period will be for another time. Here's a tease....

This is an ad from the September 9, 1942 New York Times. Could it be the one?????


  1. I LOVE it, Michael! Thanks so much for digging through all of those papers to extract this tiny slice of Allen's (Isadore's) life. How extremely human and real it makes those times for us. Such a treat! I wish I knew where you got the energy (and the TIME) to do all these marvelous posts. (|:{>

  2. The Brooklyn Eagele was a terrific paper. The only copies I found were on Fulton History, btut yours seem better. You may have skipped the May 1940 announcement of the Amateur Cartoonist club, which I had clipped in my files.

    1. Ger, The May 19, 1940 entry is above. Was there another May one?