Harry "A" Chesler : biography
Harry Chesler (January 12, 1898 - December 1981), at the Social Security Death Index. from the original on January 18, 2012. often credited as Harry "A" Chesler, with the "A" an affectation rather than a true initial, was the entrepreneur behind what is often credited as the first comic book "packager" of the late-1930s to 1940s Golden Age of comic books, supplying complete comics to publishers testing the waters of the emerging medium.
Chesler's studio was active between 1935 and 1946, according to one standard source,Bails, Jerry G., and Ware, Hames (ed.s),, Who's Who of American Comic Books, 1928–1999. Quotes from print edition: Volume One (1973), p. 31. or from 1936 to 1940 and then reorganized and running from 1940 to 1953, per a different edition of the same source. His shop employed "a growing group of men who produced scores of strips & entire books (often first issues) for nearly every publisher," including Chesler's own Star Comics, Star Ranger, Dynamic Comics, Punch Comics and Yankee Comics. The studio also "[p]roduced the early issues of MLJ Publications Zip Comics, Pep Comics and Top-Notch Comics, Captain Marvel, Master," and titles for Centaur Comics. Alumni of the Chesler Shop "went on to form the nuclei of various comics art staffs" for a number of different early comics companies; they include Jack Cole, Jack Binder, Otto Binder, Charles Biro, Mort Meskin, Creig Flessel (briefly), (Requires scrolldown to 8:25 a.m. PST post) Ken Ernst, at the Lambiek Comiclopedia Bob McCay,, Who's Who of American Comic Books, 1928–1999. Accessed Jan. 14, 2012. Otto Eppers, and dozens of others.
Most often credited as Harry "A" Chesler — the "A" was an affectation rather than a true initial, and Chesler sometimes quipped it stood for "anything" — Chesler was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, grew up in East Orange, accessed on January 17, 2012. and worked in the furniture business before he went into comics.Cassell, Dewey, with Aaron Sultan and Mike Gartland. The Art of George Tuska (TwoMorrows Publishing, 2005), ISBN 1-893905-40-3; ISBN 978-1-893905-40-5, p. 28 He also worked for a time at the Philadelphia Public Ledger, where he picked up his fictitious middle initial. In the 1920s, Chesler worked in advertising.
In 1935, Chesler established a "packaging" studio in Manhattan that supplied comic-book content to publishers testing the waters of the emerging medium. The "Chesler shop" or "Chesler Shop", as it was informally called, was located first at Fifth Avenue and 32nd Street and later at Seventh Avenue and 23rd Street. (Another source lists his studio at 28th Street and Fifth Avenue.) George Tuska, a notable comic-book artist who had worked for Chesler in the late 1930s, recalled that, "Chelser had his office on the fourth floor of a building on 23rd Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenue[s]". During this time, Chesler commuted from his home in Dover, New Jersey.
Chesler's early publications Star Comics and Star Ranger were produced through his own Chesler Publications, Inc. at the Grand Comics Database. These were bought by Ultem Publications in 1937, where he continued as editor until Ultem was in turn bought by Centaur Publications in 1938. By the late 1930s, Chesler's packaging business was flourishing. As Tuska recalled, Chesler "did alright with comics. Bought a lot of property in [New] Jersey. Made his own lake".Cassell, p. 27. Circa 1939 to 1940, Chesler was living in the Succasunna section of Roxbury Township, New Jersey; he lived there again later in life.
Chesler employees remembered him as a tough but warm boss who always wore a hat and smoked a big cigar. Artist Joe Kubert recalled Chesler paying him $5 a week, at age 12 (c. 1938) to apprentice at his studio after school. Similarly, artist Carmine Infantino remembers that, c. 1940, he was paid by Chesler "a dollar a day, just [to] study art, learn, and grow. That was damn nice of him, I thought. He did that for me for a whole summer" while Infantino was in high school.
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