Active Comics was a comic anthology released irregularly from February of 1942 to 1946 and had a total of 28 issues. It was originally released while Bell Features was still called Commercial Signs of Canada, but after the third issue it changed over to Bell Features. Its more regular continuing comic included Dixon of the Mounted, The Noodle, The Brain, Thunderfist, Active Jim and Captain Red Thorton. Later on in the series Dr. Blue and Blackie and Penny’s Diary were introduced. It had short narratives written by Vic Griffin and several smaller “funny” and “gag” comics by Harry “Hy” Moyer, Mickey Lesik, Mickey Owens, Lou Skuce, Frank Keith and Harry Brunt as well as Peterson, Cal, and Thomas.
Some of the quirks. Active Comics was pretty consistent with artists/writers and story lines having a single artist cover a story for at least a couple of issues before passing it on. In the middle of the series the comic began to cover “The Panthers’” in the Toronto Hockey League although I’m pretty sure there were no actual artists on the team. This was also one of the only ways of distinguishing approximately when a comic was released since they ceased to put a date on the comics after the first three or four issues.
Another “funny” thing they did, was for issue 28, their comic line up was as follows: Torr: Interplanetary Space Detective, The Wing, Steve Storms, The Dreamer and the Polite Pirate, Guy Powers: Secret Agent and Tophat ’N’ Tales. I’m not sure if this was part of Cy Bell’s goal to change his lineup to compete with the American comics that were filtering back into the country or what. I guess only further research can tell. That said, only Fred Kelly remained of his original story comic artists.
Here are some of the regular artists that worked on the above storylines: Ed Legault, Murray Karn, Al Cooper, Ted Steele, Ross Saakel, Leo Bachle, Adrian Dingle, Kurly Lipas, Edmond Good, J. Henly, Mel Crawford, René Kulbach, Fred Kelly, Ed and Carl Alton, Patricia Joudrey and Doris Slater and who I believe are Jon Darian and André Kulbach although they did not sign their full name on the comics. Jerry Lazare, Paul Dak and Allan Ross Mendes worked on the final issue.
My favourite art was by Murray Karn, who by issue 13 had kind of disappeared. I’m curious to see if he turns up again in any of the other Bell Features early comics. All in all, the comic itself was pretty consistent, if not consistently issued, with regular cover art by Dingle and Good.