Benjamin Allen (cartoonist)

Benjamin David "Stookie" Allen (30 January 1903 – 6 January 1971)[2] was a cartoonist who specialized in nonfiction and inspirational features.[3] He created the nationally syndicated comic strips Heroes of Democracy and Keen Teens.[4] For the pulps, he created and drew Argosy magazine's Men of Daring and Women of Daring,[5] and Detective Fiction Weekly's Illustrated Crimes.[6]

Benjamin Allen
Stookie Allen, cartoonist, in 1934
BornBenjamin David Allen
(1903-01-30)January 30, 1903
Corsicana, Texas,[1] U.S.
DiedJanuary 6, 1971(1971-01-06) (aged 67)
Fort Worth, Texas, U.S.
Area(s)Cartoonist, Illustrator
Pseudonym(s)"Stookie" Allen
Notable works
fact-based comics
Gladys Parker
(m. 1930; div. 1951)

Life and career

Allen grew up in Corsicana, Texas, and attended the University of Texas. A local sports legend, in 1924 he caught the winning touchdown pass against Texas A&M University when a bobbled ball was tipped into his hands, leading the Longhorns to 7-0 victory against the Aggies in the brand new Memorial Stadium.[7] In college, Allen also played baseball and the St. Louis Cardinals offered him a pitching tryout.[5] He left Texas to study at the Art Institute of Chicago.[4]

Allen moved around the southern oil fields for a while and ended up working for Standard Oil looking for marsh gas. When that job ended he was set to work on a pipeline in Natchez, Mississippi, and in 1927[8] was ready to take a job in Venezuela when he was offered a position drawing sports cartoons for the Associated Press in New York City.[5]

Allen's comic strip Bug Movies was published in Dell Publishing's The Funnies, a seminal 1920s precursor of comic books.[9] He also produced Bug Movies in the Funnies, a collection of the strip published in 1931.

While in New York, he met and married fellow cartoonist Gladys Parker in 1930. He assisted Parker with the comic strip Flapper Fanny during the 1930s while they lived in New York City.[1]

The action-story pulp magazine Argosy began a weekly feature by Allen in about 1931 called Men of Daring, true stories in pictures. These one to two-page weekly picture stories contained the exploits of Americans, many relatively unknown, such as Canadian air ace Billy Bishop,[10] infamous men like Edward Teach (aka Blackbeard), "as bold and cruel a rover as ever grasped hilt in hand".[11] Allen often pictured celebrities such as Harry Houdini[12] and the derring-do of international heroes like Alexander Sasha Siemel, Brazil's "Tiger Man".[13] The art is strictly black-and-white, hand-lettered with depictions of landscapes, famous individuals, villains and mechanical inventions of the times. Men of Daring also appeared in the first two issues of the short-lived pulp magazine Red Star Adventures.[14]

Argosy's weekly feature occasionally became Women of Daring, starring such notables as Dame Rachel Crowdy "the first woman in history to win knighthood in her own right"[15] and the female bullfighter Conchita Cintron.[16] Girls could also look up to Mary Wiggins, the Hollywood stunt girl and high diver.[17]

Another pulp, Detective Fiction Weekly, contained Illustrated Crimes by Allen, a pictographic true crime feature published in the mid-1930s. They had titles like "The Clue of the Folded Dollar," a detailed account of the murder of Louise Gerrish, a school teacher,[18] or "The Case of Lawyer Gibson," about a wealthy widow murdered for her estate by her attorney.[19]

Allen also contributed the feature Above the Crowd to Famous Funnies from 1935 to 1943.

Allen and Parker moved to Los Angeles in 1937.[20] When Allen moved to California, he drew a horse racing tip sheet comic called It's a Bet for the Los Angeles Herald-Express.[20]

In 1940, Allen invested in a mica mine 90 miles north of Santa Fe, New Mexico, with the singer/band leader Smith Ballew.[21]

A syndicated comic strip, Heroes of Democracy (King Features, March 9 – September 19, 1942),[22] was devoted to the exploits of American heroes, such as "Wild Bill" Wellman of World War I.[23]

When the U.S. entered World War II, Allen was drawing Heroes of Democracy and his patriotic cartoon motivated his decision to join the army.[4] During World War II, Allen served as a major[1] in the combat engineers in Europe.[24] He was an art engineer, drawing battle bridges such as one built by the 238th Engineers, 1106th combat group, crossing the Seine River south of Paris to replace a destroyed railway bridge.[25] He also drew floating Bailey bridges like the one erected in August 1944 (also spanning the Seine).[26]

After World War II, Allen felt that too much attention was being paid to juvenile delinquents and decided to focus a pictorial column on teens doing positive things. He visited J. Edgar Hoover who thought it a good idea, so Allen created the syndicated feature Keen Teens.[4] These black-and-white cartoons often contained photographs as part of the feature, such as the camera featured in Keen Teen Lens Lad-Paul Nielsen.[27] Keen Teens was also known as Teen-Age Triumphs; one cartoon featured the young writer Sylvia Plath.[28] To promote Keen Teens, Allen wrote 101 Ways to Make Money: Keen Teens (1955) which outlined how teens have "won fame, renown, and often small fortunes" by among other things, building collapsible boats, figurines and toys. "The perfect gift for the alert teen-ager."[29]

Later life and death

Allen and Gladys Parker divorced in 1951.[8] In his later life Allen worked as an art engineer for General Dynamics.[1] By 1971 he had returned to his native Texas, where he died at age 67 in Fort Worth.[1]


  • Bug Movies in the Funnies (Dell Publishing, 1931)
  • Men of Daring (Cupples and Leon Company, 1933)
  • Fighting Heroes: Battle for Freedom (Whitman Publishing, 1942)
  • 101 Ways to Make Money: Keen Teens (Emerson Books, 1955)


  1. "Ben Allen Rites Friday". Corsicana Daily Sun. Jan 7, 1971. p. 13. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
  2. "Ben Dave Allen". Retrieved 25 August 2012.
  3. Holtz, Allan. "Dell Publishing's "The Funnies" Part 9," Stripper's Guide (May 5, 2008).
  4. Cohen, Barbara Sue (March 31, 1950). "Keen Teen Cartoonist says Roundup 'Best Ever'". The Miami News. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
  5. Allen, Stookie (23 June 1934). "The Men Who Make Argosy". The Argosy. 247 (6): 140.
  6. Allen, Stookie (3 October 1936). "The Torch Murder". Detective Fiction Weekly. 105 (4): 112–113.
  7. "Sports Were Important". The Alcalde. 63 (4): 20. March 1975. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
  8. Saunders, David. "Stookie Allen," Field Guide to Wild American Pulp Artists (2019).
  9. "The Funnies #1," Grand Comics Database. Accessed Dec. 20, 2018.
  10. Allen, Stookie (5 July 1941). "Men of Daring: Billy Bishop". The Argosy. 309 (1): 18–19. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
  11. Allen, Stookie (10 December 1932). "Men of Daring: Edward Teach". The Argosy. 234 (5): 124–125. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
  12. Allen, Stookie (1 June 1935). "Men of Daring: Harry Houdini". The Argosy. 256 (1): 108–109. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
  13. Allen, Stookie (28 April 1934). "Men of Daring: Sasha Siemel". The Argosy. 246 (4): 110–111. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
  14. Carr, Nick (2008). Master of the Pulps: The Collected Essays of Nick Carr. Wildcat Books. p. 297. ISBN 9781435733596.
  15. Allen, Stookie (25 August 1934). "Women of Daring: Dame Rachel Crowdy". The Argosy. 249 (3): 88–89. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
  16. Allen, Stookie (12 July 1941). "Lady of Daring: Conchita Cintron". The Argosy. 309 (2): 21. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
  17. Allen, Stookie (27 December 1941). "Lady of Daring: Mary Wiggins". The Argosy. 312 (1): 21. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
  18. Allen, Stookie (19 September 1936). "Illustrated Crimes: The Clue of the Folded Dollar". Detective Fiction Weekly. 105 (2): 74-. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
  19. Allen, Stookie (17 October 1936). "Illustrated Crimes: The Case of Lawyer Gibson". Detective Fiction Weekly. 105: 84–85. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
  20. Editor and Publisher, Vol. 81. New York: Editor & Publisher, Co. 1948. p. 46.
  21. "Smith Ballew and Stookie Allen in Mica Business". Gazette and Bulletin, Williamsport, PA. December 7, 1940. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
  22. Holtz, Allan. "Obscurity of the Day: Heroes of Democracy," Stripper's Guide (July 4, 2008).
  23. Wellman, William (2006). The Man and His Wings: William A. Wellman and the Making of the First Best Picture. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing. p. 46. ISBN 0275985415.
  24. "Meet the Artists". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. September 26, 1946. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
  25. Wong, John B. (2004). Battle Bridges: Combat River Crossings World War II. St. Victoria, BC: Tafford Publishing. p. 54. ISBN 1412020670.
  26. Wong, John B. (2004). Battle Bridges: Combat River Crossings World War II. St. Victoria, BC: Tafford Publishing. p. 97. ISBN 1412020670.
  27. Allen, Stookie (April 21, 1950). "Keen Teen: Lens Lad, Paul Nielsen". The Miami News. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
  28. Allen, Stookie. "Sylvia Plath," Teen-Age Triumphs (January 23, 1954.
  29. Allen, Stookie (3 December 1955). "101 Ways to Make Money: Keen Teens". The Science News-Letter. 68 (23): 363. JSTOR 3935586.
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