|Apr 30 2012
Above is the cover of the bawdy humor magazine Capt. Billy’s Whiz Bang. The monthly was launched out of Robbinsdale, Minnesota in 1919 by Wilford Fawcett, who came up with the unusual name by combining his own nickname with the phrase soldiers used to describe the sound of artillery shells. Capt. Billy’s Whiz Bang began with a run of only 500 issues, had no art or photos, and seemingly never carried revenue-generating advertising save for sometimes on the inside front cover. The content was short stories, limericks, anecdotes, and one-liners, much of which would rightly be considered sexist, racist, or just plain unfunny today. On the other hand, some of it is rather cute. We liked this limerick:
Of Course Not
Carefully she rouges her dimpled knees,
Then adds a powdery sheen,
Do you think she does this little stunt,
If she thinks they won't be seen?
Well, maybe it isn't so great. But did you have any idea women once rouged their knees? That just blew us away. Anyway, from the humble seed of Capt. Billy’s Whiz Bang sprang the entire Fawcett Publishing empire, which at its height consisted of more than 60 separate magazine imprints and made Wilford Fawcett an international celebrity. Later, Fawcett Publishing launched Gold Medal books, where Kurt Vonnegut and John D. MacDonald, among many other notables, got their starts. This issue of Whiz Bang appeared this month in 1923, and thanks to the website Darwination you can read it by downloading their copy here. As a bonus, below are five more covers that came from MagazineArt.org, where you can see a fuller collection.