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Don Winslow of the Navy

Updated on February 3, 2010

Don Winslow U.S.N. later renamed Don Winslow of the Navy was launched in 1934 intially to try and increase Naval recruitment in the inland portions of America after Admiral Wat T. Cluverius complained to Lt. Commander Frank V Martinek about the difficulties of recruiting in the Midwest. It's method of doing this was to try and entertain and by showing the hero having exciting adventures with spies and saboteurs, it made the Navy look attractive to young men of recruitment age.Martinek reasoned that focusing on Naval tradition and courage would educate and fascinate America’s youth.

Don Winslow was created by Frank V. Martinek, a veteran of World War I Naval intelligence. Leon Beroth was the art director and Carl Hammond provided the layouts and research, while Martinek himself set the strip's overall tone and direction. As Martinek himself said "Since Don Winslow of the Navy is approved by the Navy Department, I cannot allow him to do anything that is contrary to the ideals, traditions or motives of the Navy."

Later in the Strips life Ed Moore, Ken Ernst and John Jordan also provided input into the series. However Don Winslow wasn't restricted to just newspaper comic strips. There were a number of "Big Little Books" published in the 1930's.

In 1937 radio show started which ran from 1937 and on through the 2nd World War.This radio show is now in the public domain and excerpts from it can be downloaded from the Internet Archive at the following link

In 1940, Grosset & Dunlap published the first of four novels about Winslow, written of course by Frank V Martinek. There were also comic books by several publishers from the 1930s through to the 1950s.

Finally 1942 saw the launch of the "Don Winslow of the Navy" Universal Pictures movie which spawned a 13 part TV Series called "Don Winslow of the Coast Guard".

All About Don Winslow

Don Winslow was a lieutenant commander in Naval intelligence. The comic strip didn't allow him much of a personality, since his modus operandi was to make the Navy look exciting, however he was smart and good in a fight, and his main objective seemed to be to save the world from The Scorpion, The Crocodile, Dr. Q, and other colourful and capable bad guys.

During December 1941 Don left his fiancee behind in in the US to go fight the Japanese, this World War II period saw the height of Don Winslow’s popularity.

Don Winslow Books available from Amazon

Don Winslow Of The Navy - May 1937
Don Winslow Of The Navy - May 1937

A reprint of the first comic of Don Winslow of the Navy produced in 1937


Other Characters in Don Winslow

Don Winslow was allowed a girlfriend, who of course was in the Navy too, Mercedes Colby. She had no less than two admirals in her family, and she became a nurse for the Navy during World War II.

Don's right hand man was Lt. Red Pennington, who provided some much needed muscle.

Don Winslow Comic Books

The first of the Don Winslow Comic Books produced was by a small company called Merwil in 1937 which combined newspaper comic reprints with a new prose story about Winslow.

The following year, Dell Comics began reprinting Winslow's newspaper adventures in Crackajack Funnies with its first issue in June 1938. Dell Comics continued until they went out of business in 1942.

Next to showcase Winslow's talents was Popular Comics, alongside stories of Smilin' Jack and Terry and the Pirates.

Finally Fawcett Publications, publishers of Captain Marvel launched its Don Winslow of the Navy comic book in February 1943. This comic book was different in that it created used new stories rather than using newspaper reprints. The comic lasted until 1948 and then was revived again in 1951 for a total of 69 issues. In 1955 it was revived again by Charlton Comics, which had inherited a lot of titles on Fawcett's withdrawal from the comic book business. Charlton reprinted Fawcett's stories for four issues in Don's own book, then continued them in the back pages of some of it's other titles.


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