BELL, Cy (1904-197?)

CY BELL (1904-197?)

Cyril Vaughn Bell was born in Peterborough on October 5, 1904. By the time he was six the family was in Toronto where his father worked as an Electrician for the local Streets and Railways. In 1929, along with his brother Eugene, he organized Commercial Signs of Canada mainly as a sign painting company.

During the last half of 1941 and at the instigation of one of his young artists, Edmund Legault, Cy Bell’s company began putting out Canadian comic books to fill in a void caused by a parliamentary ban of the importing of American comics into the country that was put in place at the end of 1940. His first title was Wow Comics, and in the ensuing months he followed with six more titles, including Dime, Active, Joke, and Triumph Comics featuring such iconic characters as Nelvana of the North, Johnny Canuck, Speed Savage, Thunderfist, and The Penguin.

In March of 1942, the company was incorporated as Bell Features and Publishing Company Ltd. and with its famous, trademark bell logo, the company’s output came to form one of the most recognizable set of books in Canadian war time production. During its peak years Bell Features produced about a hundred thousand comic books a week and employed over 60 artists.

In 1947, Cy Bell wound up his company and turned the printing side of it over to his brothers leaving us one of the finest legacies in Canadian comics. Bell Features would continue without him until 1953. Bell himself operated a small resort hotel in Crystal Beach, ON until the mid-1960’s, at which time he returned to his roots and opened a small-scale sign business which he ran until his passing in the mid-1970’s.

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