Monday, January 11, 2016

Comics: William H. Cook


William Henry Cook was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, on October 8, 1888. Cook’s birth information was found at the New Jersey, Births and Christenings Index, at Ancestry.com, and recorded on Cook’s World War I and II draft cards. His parents were William H. Cook and Martha Seeley.

The 1900 U.S. Federal Census listed Cook, his parents and four younger siblings at 690 Quincy Street in Brooklyn, New York. Cook’s father was a photographer.

According the the 1905 New York state census, the Cook family resided at 165 Jefferson Avenue in Brooklyn. Cook worked as a stenographer.


The 1910 census said Cook was a stenographer at the theatrical office. His mother was the head of the household which was at 980 Jefferson Avenue in Brooklyn.

The Cooks remained in Brooklyn but at a different address, 1526 Pacific Street, as recorded in the 1915 New York state census.

Cook was married and had a child when he signed his World War I draft card on June 5, 1917. He resided at 40 Lembeck Avenue, Jersey City, New Jersey, and was a catalogue writer for the American Can Company, 120 Broadway, New York City. The description of him was medium height and build with brown eyes and hair. Cook’s death certificate said he served from March 14 to November 26, 1918.

Cook was living in Brooklyn, at 642 Classon Avenue, when the 1920 census was enumerated. His occupation was publicity clerk while his wife was a stenographer at a vaudeville house.

Cook sold stories to pulp magazines which appeared as early as 1923.

The Bronx was Cook’s home, at 1165 West Farms Road, in the 1925 New York state census. He worked as a salesman.

On March 25, 1929, the New York Times reported the following item:

Fiction House. Inc.. publishers at 271 Madison Avenue, announced yesterday the purchase of Frontier Stories from Doubleday, Doran & Co., Inc., of Garden City, L. I. William Henry Cook will be the new managing editor of the magazine, which, beginning with the June issue, will be printed under the Fiction House imprint.
In the 1930 census, magazine author Cook and his family were in Ramsey, New Jersey at 101 Pine Street.

“12 ‘Pulp’ Magazine Stop Publication” was the headline of the December 12, 1932, New York Times article. The subhead read: “Fiction House Suspends All Its Journals Until Competitive Situation ‘Rights Itself’”

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, January 11, 1935, published the following story:

New Fun Magazine for Juveniles Out

New Fun is the title of a juvenile magazine that appeared for the first time today on the newsstands of the principal cities throughout the United States, according to an announcement made by Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson, president of National Allied Publications, Inc., 49 W. 45th St.

Major Nicholson has secured the co-operation of The Eagle for the publication of this tabloid-size monthly periodical which is designed to please “boys and girls from 2 to 90” with its predominant pictorial contents of new comic strips and special departments devoted to aircraft, sports, the radio and the movies.

Lloyd Jacquet, formerly on the staff of The Eagle, is the editor of New Fun, which is to be converted from a monthly to a weekly in the near future. He is assisted by Sheldon H. Stark as cartoon editor. Dick Loederer, who was art director in charge of animated cartoons for Van Beuren-RKO Film Corp., is art director of New Fun.
Also on the staff were Cook, the managing editor, beginning with New Fun #6, October 1935, and John F. Mahon, business manager starting with New Comics #1, December 1935.

The book, Of Comics and Men: A Cultural History of American Comic Books (2010) said:

It did not take long before Wheeler-Nicholson had to face direct competition. As the Major was terrible at managing his business and paying his employees, business director John F. Mahon and editor William H. Cook quickly quit to found Comics Magazine Company, whose first title The Comics Magazine appeared in January 1936. Renamed Funny Pages with its second issue, it proved an all-the-more serious competitor to Wheeler-Nicholson because Mahon and Cook had enticed several of “his” freelancers that were fed up with not being paid.
Comics Magazine Company published these titles: The Comics Magazine, (first issue is here) The Comics Magazine Funny Pages, Detective Picture Stories, Funny Pages, Funny Picture Stories, and Western Picture Stories.

The Statement of Ownership was published in Funny Pages #7, December 1936. The owners were: “John F. Mahon, 11 West 42nd Street, New York, N.Y., Samuel A. Fried, 291 Broadway, New York, N.Y., Frances E. Cook, 70 West 11th Street, New York, N.Y.” Cook’s wife was a stockholder.




The Comics Magazine Company’s last issues had the cover date June 1937. These issues appeared soon after this bankruptcy notice in the New York Times, February 6, 1937:
William H. Cook, editor, 70 W. 11th St.—Liabilities, $16,486; no assets
I. W. Ullman and Frank Z. Temerson’s Ultem Publications picked up the Comics Magazine Company’s titles Funny Pages and Funny Picture Stories, and bought Chesler Publications from Harry A. Chesler who stayed on as editor and packager. Ultem published its comics for five months then sold them to Centaur Publications.

Cook continued contributing stories to pulp magazines. His occupation was freelance writer in the 1940 census which said he completed four years of high school. Cook and Frances lived at 215 West 14th Street in Manhattan.

On April 26, 1942, unemployed Cook signed his World War II draft card. He and his wife lived in Sheffield, Massachusetts.

According to the Vermont Death Records, at Ancestry.com, Cook passed away June 16, 1964 in Chester, Vermont. The cause was arteriosclerotic heart disease. His wife, Frances, passed away April 27, 1965 in 
Bellows Falls, Vermont. The cause was coronary artery arteriosclerosis. Cook’s daughter, Hope, passed away February 25, 2002 in Dover, New Hampshire.


(Next post on Monday: Robert J. Wildhack)

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