Friday, December 25, 2020

The Chinese Detective in Comic Books: Charlie Chan

Charlie Chan made his comic book debut in the August 1939 issue of Feature Comics, number 23. The ten-page story reprinted the comic strips by Alfred Andriola.

Editor & Publisher, September 17, 1938
Charlie Chan Comic Strip, Dafoe Column Due Soon
Charlie Chan, known to millions through the medium of books, motion pictures and radio, will make his debut in the comic strips about the end of October, it has been announced by McNaught Syndicate Inc., of Greenwich, Conn., which will handle the feature. The new adventure strip will appear in daily and Sunday-page form.

Rights to the Charlie Chan character are owned by Mrs. Earl Derr Biggers–Cole, widow of Earl Derr Biggers, who created the character in serials, short stories and novels. A long-time contract has been signed with the syndicate by Mrs. Biggers–Cole through her business representatives, Irving Fogel and Associates.

Andriola to Draw Strip

Alfred Andriola, 26-year-old artist of Rutherford, N. J., will write the Chan continuity and also do the art work. According to the syndicate, Andriola for the past seven years has done writing as well as drawing. From a preliminary sketch of the character, it is obvious that he will be patterned after the late Warner Oland, motion picture actor who in right films brought the name Charlie Chan to the apex of its popularity.

With very few exceptions (The Lone Ranger of King Features as one example) has a strip been started wherein the main character is so widely known. Five Chan books have been translated into all of the principal languages. The motion pictures were popular in both hemispheres. Transcriptions of the new Chan radio program have been sold in nearly all of the major countries. Bobbs-Merril, publishers, report that books by the late Earl Biggers are still ast sellers. The Twentieth-CenturyFox studios last week began production of a new Chan picture to be titled “Charlie Chan in Honolulu,” McNaught reported.

Shuns Guns and Gangsters

One of the most pointed praises of the new feature is that, while it will contain mystery, action and drama, it will be altogether lacking in bloodletting horror. Mr. Andriola said that he does not propose to achieve reader interest through hair-raising violence. “Guns and gangster,” he said, “will have no place in the Chan continuity. Chan is essentially a kindly, lovable character and these qualities will be dominant in the strip. He will also be generous and a tireless public servant.” Chan’s “No. 1 Son,” Lee, will play a secondary role in most of the continuities and will furnish comic relief. The Charlie Chan strip will be available in either five- or six-column size. The Sunday feature will be in half-page size.
The Charlie Chan comic strip debuted in the Evening Star (Washington, DC) on October 31, 1938. The Evening Star began promoting the new comic strip on October 21, 1938. The comic strip ended in May 1942.
The comic strips, from October 31 to December 17, 1938 were cut apart and rearranged to fill ten comic book pages. Below are the first week of daily comic strips, which formed a page-and-a-half, and the complete comic book story.


Charlie Chan appeared in eight more issues of Feature Comics.

Feature Comics #24, September 1939
Feature Comics #25, October 1939
Feature Comics #26, November 1939
Feature Comics #27, December 1939
Feature Comics #28, January 1940
Feature Comics #29, February 1940
Feature Comics #30, March 1940
Feature Comics #31, April 1940

Charlie Chan continued in Big Shot Comics.

Big Shot Comics #1, May 1940
Big Shot Comics #2, June 1940
Big Shot Comics #3, July 1940
Big Shot Comics #4, August 1940
Big Shot Comics #5, September 1940
Big Shot Comics #6, October 1940
Big Shot Comics #7, November 1940
Big Shot Comics #8, December 1940
Big Shot Comics #9, January 1941
Big Shot Comics #10, February 1941
Big Shot Comics #11, March 1941
Big Shot Comics #12, April 1941
Big Shot Comics #13, May 1941
Big Shot Comics #14, June 1941
Big Shot Comics #15, July 1941
Big Shot Comics #16, August 1941
Big Shot Comics #17, September 1941
Big Shot Comics #18, October 1941
Big Shot Comics #19, November 1941
Big Shot Comics #20, December 1941
Big Shot Comics #21, January 1942
Big Shot Comics #22, February 1942
Big Shot Comics #23, April 1942
Big Shot Comics #27, September 1942
Big Shot Comics #28, October 1942
Big Shot Comics #29, November 1942
Big Shot Comics #30, December 1942
Big Shot #34, April 1943
Big Shot #35, June 1943
Big Shot #36, July 1943 (story not available)
Big Shot #37, August 1943
Mickey Finn #3, August 1943 (story not available)
Big Shot #38, September 1943
Big Shot #39, October 1943
Big Shot #40, November 1943
Big Shot #41, December 1943
Big Shot #42, January 1944
Big Shot #43, February 1944
Big Shot #44, March 1944
Big Shot #45, April 1944
Big Shot #46, May 1944
Big Shot #47, July 1944
Big Shot #48, August 1944
Big Shot #49, September 1944
Big Shot #50, October 1944
Big Shot #51, November 1944
Big Shot #52, January 1945
Big Shot #53, February 1945
Big Shot #54, March 1945
Big Shot #55, April 1945
Big Shot #56, May 1945
Big Shot #57, June 1945
Big Shot #58, August 1945
Big Shot #59, September 1945
Big Shot #60, October 1945
Big Shot #61, November 1945
Big Shot #62, January 1946
Big Shot #63, February 1946
Big Shot #64, March 1946
Big Shot #65, April 1946
Big Shot #66, May 1946
Big Shot #67, July 1946
Big Shot #68, August 1946
Big Shot #69, September 1946
Big Shot #70, October 1946
Big Shot #71, November 1946
Big Shot #72, December 1946
Big Shot #73, January 1947
Big Shot #74, February 1947
Big Shot #75, March 1947
Big Shot #76, April 1947
Big Shot #77, May 1947
Big Shot #78, June 1947

New Charlie Chan stories
Charlie Chan #1, June-July 1948, here and here
Charlie Chan #2, August-September 1948, here and here
Charlie Chan #3, October-November 1948
Charlie Chan #4, December 1948-January 1949, here and here
Charlie Chan #5, February-March 1949
Charlie Chan #6, June 1955, here and here
Charlie Chan #7, August 1955, here and here
Charlie Chan #8, October 1955, here and here
Charlie Chan #9, March 1956, here and here

The New Adventures of Charlie Chan #1, May-June 1958 (story not available)
The New Adventures of Charlie Chan #2, July-August 1958 (story not available)
The New Adventures of Charlie Chan #3, September-October 1958 (story not available)
The New Adventures of Charlie Chan #4, November-December 1958 (story not available)
The New Adventures of Charlie Chan #5, January-February 1959 (story not available)
The New Adventures of Charlie Chan #6, March-April 1959 (story not available)

Charlie Chan #1, October-December 1965 (story not available)
Charlie Chan #2, March 1966 (story not available)

Further Reading
Wikipedia: Charlie Chan
Book Series in Order: Publication Order of Charlie Chan Books

Related Post
Mr. Wong, Detective



  1. Hello, I am a big Charlie Chan fan - I have the complete collection of the movies and I can say most I watch on a weekly basis.

  2. Is there a way to contact you - I have some questions on the 1939 comic strips. I am setting up a website and I like to use the images and post a link to your site.