The book on the left is number four of one of the most popular (at the time) comic runs in history, Dell’s Four Color. Issue is dated January 1942.
I love the strange cover. Smilin’ Jack seems indifferent to the affectionate gazes of two “de-icers” (Smilin’ Jack’s words, not mine) while he busily polishes his propeller.
Smilin’ Jack’s aeronautic escapades started appearing in newspapers back in 1933. The strip was created by Zack Mosley (a real life flyer himself) who was art assistant on Buck Rogers. Mosley had picked up the nicknamed Smilin’ Zack at work and he used it for his new character’s name.
Smilin’ Jack Martin started out as a student pilot, but he soon matured into a legitimate hero who captivated the ladies during his adventures using wit, wiles and Clark Gable like looks.
His exploits soon led to spinning off a multimedia franchise that included; a Universal Picture movie serial that went thirteen episodes, a radio show, and an eight book comic series for Dell with an additional six appearances in Dell’s Four Color (all reprints of prior newspaper strip runs). His reprints also frequently appeared in Popular Comics and Super Comics.
When Mosley retired at the age of 67 he took Smilin’ Jack with him, and the strip ended Sunday, April 1, 1973.