Cavalcade, the Iconic Aussie Digest from the K G Murray Publishing Empire


The Iconic Aussie Digest from the K G Murray Publishing Empire
Page text (C) Greg Ray (WANTS LIST)
Just ONE page on the
Collecting Books and Magazines web site based in Australia.
Page updated 7th June, 2018

Cavalcade Magazine was an Australian publication with an interesting history.

It is mainly collected these days by aficionados of Australian cartooning who seek out the comic strips by Phil Belbin.

Cavalcade had its origins in an attempt by the publisher of Man magazine, Kenneth Murray, to produce a serious news magazine.

The first incarnation of this effort was called “The Insider”,
issue one of which appeared on June 16, 1939.

A brief editorial on page 26 of the first issue explained that “The Insider was born in the Sudeten German town, Eger, on October 3 last year. For, there, during Nazi occupation of the territory, came to its publisher, Murray, a realisation that the TRUTH concerning the whole situation was vastly different from the universally accepted, distorted impression that the world was given.”

Murray hoped The Insider would be to Australia what Time was to the USA and News Review was to England and the statement of policy that appeared in the first issue promised “information for men and women who are intelligently interested in the inner workings of the world, yet whose ears are revolting against the hysterical screaming of sensationalism”.

The first four issues were attractive productions, with full colour cartoon covers and printed on high-quality paper. Among the many appealing features of these very rare magazines are the beautiful and clever cartoons and illustrations by top-flight Murray stable artists including Jack Gibson, Clifford Barnes and Maurice Cork, as well as photo montage work by Laurence Le Guay.

The Insider appeared weekly until issue four, dated July 7, when it switched to a monthly publication schedule.

Volume 1, number 1 of the new monthly series of The Insider, with a photographic cover, appeared in August 1939. The magazine was clearly Ken Murray’s pet, and it powerfully echoed the same editorial lines he had been pressing in the columns of Man since its inception in December 1936. It was outspokenly anti-war, but equally strongly in favour of Australia arming itself in preparation for possible aggression.

From October 1940 The Insider refocused itself almost exclusively on the Pacific region, arguing fervently for peace and understanding between Japan and its neighbours.

The advent of the war in the Pacific put paid to the hopes of The Insider and saw a master-switch thrown at the Murray publishing organization.

The measured pleas for peace were replaced overnight in the stable’s magazines Man and Man Junior with a rampant patriotism.

In a Murray group staff journal published after the war, the impact of Japan’s commencement of the Pacific war was recalled:

“Some of the inbuilt quality had to go, at first. More of it went as the pressure became heavier. There was the other war, in the Pacific. Quality wasn’t the only thing that went then. Staff went. Magazines went.”

Murray’s publishing empire shrank to five staff, two war correspondents and three typists, all producing five remaining publications. Five publications had to be suspended.

The Insider was incorporated into the digest-sized Cavalcade, launched in about April 1941. Cavalcade staggered into 1943, losing all reference to the Insider, until it finally went into a short recess, along with Man Junior and Digest of Digests.

Cavalcade returned from its recess in late 1944, with issue one of the new series (still digest-sized) being a combined November-December number.

The manifesto of the new Cavalcade (edited by Bill Delany) was to “give busy people . . . a reflection of today”. “It has no words to waste, no old ideas to rehash”, the editor promised.

The new Cavalcade still had plenty of war news, in words and photos, and it featured - on the few pages of glossy art paper it was allowed to mingle with its postwar pulp - some wonderful artwork by Wiz and the familiar Murray staffers.

Jack Waugh produced the cover art of the first new-series Cavalcades, but from July 1945 (volume 2) onward, the magazine settled into its familiar glamour-girl photo cover format. Most of the girls were Aussie lasses, and the magazine carried brief biographical notes about them inside.

In 1946 Cavalcade ran a high-profile Australia-wide covergirl contest, publishing regular selections from the flood of entries it received. The winner, gracing the cover of the January 1947 issue was 17-year-old Miss Noel McGlinchey, of Toorak. She won 100 guineas and a Hollywood screen test.

Also in 1947 artist Phil Belbin joined KG Murray as an artist and cartoonist and his spectacular illustrations began to appear along with those of Jack Waugh.

Jack Gibson remained a key artistic contributor too, with many regular features and spot illustrations.

The whole bevy of familiar postwar authors began to appear: Darcy Niland, Raymond Slattery, James Holledge and Dulcie Deamer, to name a few.

In April 1948 Cavalcade introduced comic strip plotlines of current RKO movies: the first was The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, drawn by Belbin, followed in May by Out of the Past. Other movies given this treatment by Belbin were Magic Town, Night Song, Return of the Bad Men, The Bishop’s Wife, The Miracle of the Bells, I Remember Mama, Fort Apache, If You Knew Suzie, Rachel and the Stranger and The Velvet Touch.

In April 1949 Phil Belbin was given the opportunity to draw “Cavalcade’s new picture mystery”. This was Flash Cain, private detective. Many of these strips were scripted by Ray Heath.

In August 1951 Flash Cain gave way to Kath King of Kismet Cove, a beautiful girl writer and reporter, drawn by Belbin and scripted by Sydney Ockenden.

Kath King lasted until October 1953, and that was the end of comic strips in Cavalcade, although Australian-drawn cartoons continued to appear.

By the 1950s Australia was again flooded with dumped American magazines and the homegrown publications resorted increasingly to cheap, syndicated cartoons and written copy: both to cut costs and also because Australian tastes had become highly Americanized.

In 1955 the magazine switched from digest size to an A4-sized format, its covers became more risqué and it badged itself as “the know yourself magazine”. It doesn’t appear to have been a very convincing effort and Cavalcade appears to have died in 1957, 25 volumes into the new series that began in 1944. #

Related pages: MAN Magazine | Ion Idriess in MAN | Jack (John) Gibson | Hardmuth Lahm 'Snifter' creator

1941 to 1944 Any but Aug 1941, Feb 1943 or Nov/Dec 1944
1945 May,
1946 Jan*, Jul, Aug, Sept, Nov, Dec
1947 Feb, Apr, May, Jun, Sept, Oct,
1949 Jun Oct, Dec*
1950 April, Jul, Aug,
1954 Feb, April,
1955 Oct, Nov, Dec
1956 Jan, Mar, April, May,
1957 Any after March
Greg Ray



While browsing through loose material in our Archive, I came across some loose pages from the issue of May 1948, of the magazine “Cavalcade”.

They were a well written and researched article by D’Arcy Niland, entitled “New Zealand’s self-made king” ---on an early settler in NZ, Charles de Thierry, who was to call himself Baron de Thierry, after the acquisition of 40,000 acres in the Hokianga region.

I enjoyed the article which was a sympathetic account of a man who has more commonly been ridiculed in our country.

Having Googled Cavalcade magazine, I found your website, which I also found interesting. I wonder if you or your readers have any more articles written by D’Arcy Niland, especially any dealing with NZ’s history?

Bruce Bolland

Any problems or questions? Email John at chiefchook@gmail.com

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