Pulp Fiction Writer Who Controls Bees, Yellowjacket Comics at Auction

Rather remarkably, Yellowjacket, the headline character of Yellowjacket Comics, was not the first Golden Age comic book superhero with the power to control bees. The Red Bee, a Quality Comics character debuting in Hit Comics #1, created by Toni Blum and Charles Nicholas, used trained bees. But while Quality Comics and all of its titles and characters are fairly well documented, very little is known for sure about who created the Yellowjacket, or even who published him.  An obscure Golden Age comic book title that manages to be both bizarre and very entertaining, there's a Yellowjacket Comics #8 (Frank Comunale, 1946) Condition: VG/FN up for auction at the 2022 June 26-27 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122226 at Heritage Auctions.

Yellowjacket Comics #8 (Frank Comunale, 1946)
Yellowjacket Comics #8 (Frank Comunale, 1946)

Vince Harley was a pulp fiction writer for Dark Detective magazine, and he also enjoyed beekeeping as a hobby.  He inadvertently got in the middle of a jewelry robbery and the criminals who perpetrated the theft roughed him up, and then attempted to use Harley's own bees to kill him.  While the bees swarmed over Harley, they didn't kill him, instead giving him super strength and control over yellowjackets.  With Harley's pulp fiction flair for the dramatic, he created a bee costume for himself and decided to become a costumed avenger.

Yellowjacket Comics is often considered the first Charlton comic book, because even though the indicia publisher starts out as Frank Communale Publishing Company (and later Frank Publishing Company), it became Charlton by the last issue.  Frank Comunale Publishing Company is typically considered some sort of imprint of Charlton, but this is not the case. Frank Comunale was the editor and publisher of Il Mattino d'America, a New York City-based newspaper with editions in both Italian and English and launched in 1940.  A 1946 piece on his wedding in Newsday confirms that he is the head Frank Comunale Publishing Company of New York City.  Frank Comunale Publishing Company published a Detective Parade 1945 pulp one-shot, and the short-lived 1950-era version of Chief Detective, both via a NYC address. Given the indicia address of Yellowjacket Comics and the time frame, it seems likely that like many newspaper (and other) publishers of this period, Comunale was induced into using his paper quota to make a brief foray into comics publishing, with the Charlton founders' Derby, Connecticut facilities acting as the printer and perhaps packager.  Given the importance of this moment to Charlton's entry into comics, more research on these details is required.

The artist co-creator of Yellowjacket and the artist of the story in this issue is assumed to be Ken Battlefield, based on known stylistic similarities, while the writer is unknown, making virtually every aspect of this series an interesting puzzle.  An obscure Golden Age comic book title that manages to be both bizarre and very entertaining, there's a Yellowjacket Comics #8 (Frank Comunale, 1946) Condition: VG/FN up for auction at the 2022 June 26-27 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122226 at Heritage Auctions.

Yellowjacket Comics #8 (Frank Comunale, 1946)
Yellowjacket Comics #8 (Frank Comunale, 1946)

Yellowjacket Comics #8 (Frank Comunale, 1946) Condition: VG/FN. Alan Mandel art. The cover is barely attached. Overstreet 2021 VG 4.0 value = $84; FN 6.0 value = $126.

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About Mark Seifert

Co-founder and Creative director of Bleeding Cool parent company Avatar Press. Bleeding Cool Managing Editor, tech and data wrangler. Machine Learning hobbyist. Vintage paper addict.
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