Sunday, June 10, 2012


Humphrey Comics #21 is the second of three Joe Palooka titles that
were published by Harvey Comics in my birth month of December 1951.
It’s also the next-to-last issue of the title, though Harvey would
continue to publish Joe Palooka Comics through March 1961.

To the best of my recollection, I’ve never actually read an entire
Joe Palooka comic-strip story or comic book.  From comics history
studies, I know he was the heavyweight boxing champion and that he
served in the armed forces during World War II.  Hal Fisher created
Joe Palooka, but many other people did the writing and drawing over
the strip’s long existence.  Al Capp was one of them and it wasn’t
a happy relationship.  Do a little web-surfing and you’ll find that
exceedingly weird story.

Most and maybe all of the Joe Palooka comic books were reprints of
the comic strip.  Whether or not that held true for this Humphrey
series is unknown to me.  The Grand Comics Database has at present
only partially indexed the first issue and that one has reprints of
the comic strip.

The Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928-1999 does list creators
who worked on Humphrey Comics.  Al Avison is said to have penciled
from 1948-1954, which indicates that Humphrey might have starred in
back-up features in other titles.  Warren Kremer is credited with
pencils and inks, but no years are listed.  The legendary Joe Simon
likely penciled and inked some covers of the title.

The only other thing I know about Humphrey Pennyworth (no relation
to Alfred) is that he was a blacksmith.  If someone versed in Joe
Palooka lore would like to enlighten me on this character and his
friendship with the boxer, I’d love to hear from them.

If you do grace this bloggy thing with your comments, it might be
a day or two before they get approved.  As you read today’s bloggy
thing, I’m in Columbus for my son Eddie’s graduation from The Ohio
State University.  That’s also why I’m writing shorter than usual
bloggy things for a few days.

I’ll be back tomorrow with a third Joe Palooka comic book from the
month of my birth.

© 2012 Tony Isabella


  1. Humphrey was a very fat and very strong blacksmith. He was also very gentle and maybe a little mentally impaired. He was introduced in the Joe Palooka strip when some unscrupulous promoters forced him into boxing, which he was very good at but he hated doing. Joe Palooka rescued him from the boxing life, and they became close friends.

    The stories in Humphrey Comics were mostly new, as there wasn't enough solo Humphrey material from the strip to last them very long. I've only read a few Humphrey stories, but I can't help thinking he was an influence on Harvey's Little Lotta...

  2. Thanks. Great comment. Although I'm wondering how I managed to miss the "all-new stories" blurb on the cover every time I looked at it. Sheesh!

  3. I remember Humphrey especially from the daily Joe Palooka strip. He was so strong that he was able to fly by peddling a contraption that he built himself. It looked like an outhouse with wings and the front half of a bicycle attached.

    He was very, very smart at making things and in figuring out people's motivations but not so bright in many other ways. Near the end of the strip in the 60s, that I can remember, Humphrey starred more often than Joe or Little Max.

  4. Fwiw, most of the Joe Palooka stories at Harvey (and elsewhere) were reprints of the newspaper strip. However, there were 8 issues of the Harvey series called JOE PALOOKA'S BATTLE ADVENTURES, which featured one story-reprint of Joe's World War II career plus a number of non-series war stories. This series did feature about 3 original Joe Palooka stories featuring him as a soldier, if I'm correct.