SANDRA OF THE SECRET SERVICE

 
Full Name: Sandra McLane
Nationality: American
Organization: American Intelligence
Occupation Agent

Creator: Charles Flanders
Time Span: 1935 - 1938
ABOUT THE SERIES

       Sandra is an agent of the Secret Service.
       This is not the Secret Service as we know it, formerly of the Treasury Department and now a part of Homeland Security, but rather a catch-all name for some intelligence bureau in the American alphabet soup group. Which one is never revealed but it, as is to be expected, has its headquarters in Washington, D.C.
       Before she became involved in international intrigue, Sandra was a well-to-do single woman living quite happily in New York City (assumed, not certain). We know she was well-off by inference in that when first we meet her, she is completing a shopping trip and climbing into a limousine driven by James (who else) and she has a butler named Haskins. We conclude she is single by the fact that when adventure calls, she takes off with no hesitation and no need to let anyone (like a spouse) know.
       We know that Sandra is athletic just by looking at her pictures and seeing how she handles herself. We also know she is quick-witted and resourceful and very brave by the fact that when she is accosted by gunman, she immediately grabs a chair and hurls it at him with no hesitation. We also learn quickly that Sandra loves adventure and "excitement" as she jumps at the chance to head overseas on a mission.
       As time go by, we also learn Sandra is quite capable of operating boats, using a wireless, and even piloting a small plane. How she learned all this is never mentioned but each is done with surety and skill.
       First meeting Sandra, she is dark-haired. Halfway through her set of adventures, she becomes a blonde (around the time a new artist took over drawing duties).

COMIC BOOKS AND GRAPHIC NOVELS

Number of Issues:35
First Appearance:1935
Last Appearance:1938

       The saga of Sandra of the Secret Service is of some pretty impressive significance.
       In 1935, Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson, a writer of pulp adventures who had just started his own small magazine of stories, noticed that several pulp publications had launched large size digests reprinting comic strips previously published in newspapers. He decided to go one step further and started his own which was the first monthly oversized magazine containing all original work. Thus was created the comic book.
       Also significant is the fact that while many others would come close on his heels, his company would persevere (though he would soon leave) and would, with a few bumps and swerves, eventually become D.C. comics, one of the two comic book biggies of the last 50 years.
       Regarding Sandra herself and the significance she owns, besides being the lead story in the first original comic book, she was also the first comic book heroine. She was not the girl friend of the main characters, or the sister, or the femme fatale out to scuttle the hero's goodness or the pretty always finding herself in peril needing rescue. She was the one doing the saving.
       
       While the magazine contained original work instead of newspaper reprints, the style was same and more resembled
Sunday editions of comic strips than later comic book styles. Moreover, the initial stories were one page long and the stories serialized over numerous issues. The first adventure Sandra had would take 13 months to tell.
       After a while, Sandra's monthly stories got bigger and contained 3 pages, giving her readers more per issue.

       I have made available many of the pages that I have found but a good number of them are missing.

1 The Gavonian Affair - Part 1 The Gavonian Affair - Part 1
Published by National Allied
Contributors: Charles Flanders (writer and artist)
Copyright: 02/01/1935

New Comics #1 - Heading home from shopping, Sandra's limo is carjacked by a man with a gun, forcing Sandra and driver to help him escape another car and the bullets flying at them.

2 The Gavonian Affair - Part 2 The Gavonian Affair - Part 2
Published by National Allied
Contributors: Charles Flanders (writer and artist)
Copyright: 03/01/1935

New Comics #2 - A foreign emissary comes to Sandra's home to thank her for her help but a spy from Gavonia breaks in to kill both of them.

3 The Gavonian Affair - Part 3 The Gavonian Affair - Part 3
Published by National Allied
Contributors: Charles Flanders (writer and artist)
Copyright: 04/01/1935

New Comics #3 -

4 The Gavonian Affair - Part 4 The Gavonian Affair - Part 4
Published by National Allied
Contributors: Charles Flanders (writer and artist)
Copyright: 05/01/1935

New Comics #4 -

5 The Gavonian Affair - Part 5 The Gavonian Affair - Part 5
Published by National Allied
Contributors: Charles Flanders (writer and artist)
Copyright: 08/01/1935

New Comics #5 - The plan to sneak Sandra into Gavonia goes really wrong when she is kidnapped and sped away. Lothar and Reynolds give chase.

6 The Gavonian Affair - Part 6 The Gavonian Affair - Part 6
Published by National Allied
Contributors: Charles Flanders (writer and artist)
Copyright: 10/01/1935

New Comics #6 - The car chase is wild and shots are fired but in the excitement, Sandra is able to grab one of the guns and get the drop on her captors.

7 The Gavonian Affair - Part 7 The Gavonian Affair - Part 7
Published by National Allied
Contributors: W. C. Bingham (writer and artist)
Copyright: 01/01/1936

More Fun Comics #7 - Able to get the drop on her captors, Sandra has to shoot the driver to get out of the car. Out of the frying pan ... as Sandra and friends are arrested and sent to the Prisons.

8 The Gavonian Affair - Part 8 The Gavonian Affair - Part 8
Published by National Allied
Contributors: W. C. Bingham (writer and artist)
Copyright: 02/01/1936

More Fun Comics #8 - Evil Count Taurus insists Sandra impersonate the missing Princess Yonda or her friends Lothar and Reynolds will die a horrible death.

9 The Gavonian Affair - Part 9 The Gavonian Affair - Part 9
Published by National Allied
Contributors: W. C. Bingham (writer and artist)
Copyright: 03/01/1936

More Fun Comics #9 - Reluctantly Sandra takes the place of the missing Princess but a young Count sees through the ruse and insists on a rendezvous.

10 The Gavonian Affair - Part 10 The Gavonian Affair - Part 10
Published by National Allied
Contributors: W. C. Bingham (writer and artist)
Copyright: 05/01/1936

More Fun Comics #10 - Sandra is told to sneak away to a clandestine meeting at the haunted Black Tower. Going there, she is unaware she is being followed. At the Black Tower, she meets a small group of men in robes.

11 The Gavonian Affair - Part 11 The Gavonian Affair - Part 11
Published by National Allied
Contributors: W. C. Bingham (writer and artist)
Copyright: 07/01/1936

More Fun Comics #11 - The robed men are part of a secret society aiming to free Gavonia. They eventually believe she is an unwilling participant. They ask her to help them but the meeting is discovered.

12 The Gavonian Affair - Part 12 The Gavonian Affair - Part 12
Published by National Allied
Contributors: W. C. Bingham (writer and artist)
Copyright: 08/01/1936

More Fun Comics #12 - About to be taken prisoner yet again, Sandra convinces the troops and those with the Count that she is the real Princess and they agree to work with her.

13 The Gavonian Affair - Part 13 The Gavonian Affair - Part 13
Published by National Allied
Contributors: W. C. Bingham (writer and artist)
Copyright: 09/01/1936

More Fun Comics #13 - Sandra and the Count take the troops loyal to her and storm the Black Tower, freeing the real Princess.

14 The Resbian Affair - Part 1 The Resbian Affair - Part 1
Published by National Allied
Contributors: W. C. Bingham (writer and artist)
Copyright: 10/01/1936

The Princess of Gavonia asks Sandra help rescue a Gavonian held prisoner by neighboring Resbia.

15 The Resbian Affair - Part 2 The Resbian Affair - Part 2
Published by National Allied
Contributors: W. C. Bingham (writer and artist)
Copyright: 10/01/1936

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16 The Resbian Affair - Part 3 The Resbian Affair - Part 3
Published by National Allied
Contributors: W. C. Bingham (writer and artist)
Copyright: 12/01/1936

Breaking into the prison, Sandra finds Lorenz's cell and disables the guard to free him. Another guard arrives and is captured, giving Sandra and friend uniforms to change into. A swim in the river ensues.

17 The Resbian Affair - Part 4 The Resbian Affair - Part 4
Published by National Allied
Contributors: W. C. Bingham (writer and artist)
Copyright: 01/01/1937

As Resbian troops pursue them, Sandra and Lorenz fight some and flee others before coming upon an airfield. Luckily Sandra can pilot a plane!

18 The Resbian Affair - Part 5 The Resbian Affair - Part 5
Published by National Allied
Contributors: W. C. Bingham (writer and artist)
Copyright: 02/01/1937

Sandra gets Lorenz back to Gavonia and earns the thanks of the Princess.

19 Resbian Revenge Resbian Revenge
Published by National Allied
Contributors: W. C. Bingham (writer and artist)
Copyright: 03/01/1937

Sailing back to the States from Gavonia, Sandra is spotted by two Resbians who are out for revenge. As they attack her, Sandra sees a fellow American, Michael, come to her aid. Sandra and Michael end up abandoned in the cold ocean waters.

20 The Brain - Part 1 The Brain - Part 1
Published by National Allied
Contributors: Will Georgi (writer and artist)
Copyright: 05/01/1937

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21 The Brain - Part 2 The Brain - Part 2
Published by National Allied
Contributors: Will Georgi (writer and artist)
Copyright: 06/01/1937

Sandra and Michael are picked up by a submarine led by Captain Snegg. The sub is in the service of The Brain, an arms dealer wanting to foment trouble for profits.

22 The Brain - Part 3 The Brain - Part 3
Published by National Allied
Contributors: Will Georgi (writer and artist)
Copyright: 07/01/1937

Sandra and Michael temporarily incapacitate Captain Snegg and learn of The Brain's plan to heighten tensions to sell more arms. The sub's crew gas them and they wake up in a cell in the tropical headquarters of The Brain.

23 The Brain - Part 4 The Brain - Part 4
Published by National Allied
Contributors: Will Georgi (writer and artist)
Copyright: 08/01/1937

Held by The Brain, Sandra and Michael are put to work in the galley and forced to serve the arriving members of the munitions cabal. They decide to find the wireless and send out warnings.

24 The Brain - Part 5 The Brain - Part 5
Published by National Allied
Contributors: Will Georgi (writer and artist)
Copyright: 09/01/1937

A Marine patrol boat pick up Sandra's signal and heads their way. Meanwhile, Sandra and Michael are recaptured and thrown into a dungeon. They find a body with a note showing how to escape.

25 The Brain - Part 6 The Brain - Part 6
Published by National Allied
Contributors: Will Ely (writer and artist)
Copyright: 10/01/1937

At sea escaping, Sandra and Michael encounter rough waters and are about to capsize when the Marine patrol boat saves them. Sandra insists they head to the island and kill the cabal before they escape to hurt others.

26 The Gas Murders - Part 1 The Gas Murders - Part 1
Published by National Allied
Contributors: Will Ely (writer and artist)
Copyright: 11/01/1937

Back home, Sandra's boss at Intelligence welcomes her home. She is soon involved in figuring out who is murdering people with a poison gas.

27 The Gas Murders - Part 2 The Gas Murders - Part 2
Published by National Allied
Contributors: Will Ely (writer and artist)
Copyright: 12/01/1937

Sandra uncovers clues about how the killer was getting away and the police use this info to capture him.

28 Sandra's Vacation - Part 1 Sandra's Vacation - Part 1
Published by National Allied
Contributors: Will Ely (writer and artist)
Copyright: 01/01/1938

Sandra's boss thinks she needs a vacation so she boards a boat heading to Florida. Meeting Michael on the ship, she learns he is there reporting on a wealthy newlywed debutante.

29 Sandra's Vacation - Part 2 Sandra's Vacation - Part 2
Published by National Allied
Contributors: Will Ely (writer and artist)
Copyright: 02/01/1938

The debutante's husband reports that her valuable necklace has been stolen. Sandra wants to just watch but Michael is in for the scoop.

30 Sandra's Vacation - Part 3 Sandra's Vacation - Part 3
Published by National Allied
Contributors: Will Ely (writer and artist)
Copyright: 03/01/1938

Sandra overhears conversations between the Baron and some unsavory types and know the man is up to no good. She investigates.

31 Sandra's Vacation - Part 4 Sandra's Vacation - Part 4
Published by National Allied
Contributors: Will Ely (writer and artist)
Copyright: 03/01/1938

The Baron has disappeared with the necklace as the ship prepares to dock. Sandra, however, has a good idea as to where the scoundrel is hiding and he is soon nabbed.

32 The Kidnapping - Part 1 The Kidnapping - Part 1
Published by National Allied
Contributors: Will Ely (writer and artist)
Copyright: 06/01/1938

Sandra is looking forward to a quiet vacation in Florida but that is not to be as she learns of a kidnapping.

33 The Kidnapping - Part 2 The Kidnapping - Part 2
Published by National Allied
Contributors: Will Ely (writer and artist)
Copyright: 07/01/1938

A couple of tough guys take a gang lord captive to find out where he hid his ill-gotten loot. Sandra is on their heels.

34 The Kidnapping - Part 3 The Kidnapping - Part 3
Published by National Allied
Contributors: Will Ely (writer and artist)
Copyright: 08/01/1938

Having gotten too close, Sandra is captured herself.

35 The Kidnapping - Part 4 The Kidnapping - Part 4
Published by National Allied
Contributors: Will Ely (writer and artist)
Copyright: 09/01/1938

The mob boss turns the tables on his kidnappers and both he and Sandra get away.

MY COMMENTS

       As I mentioned in the Comic Book section, Sandra's adventures put her in several "first" categories. The most important, to me, is that fact that she was the first heroine to host her own series. As time will pass, a fair number of new female leads will show up but most of them are super-powered. The few that are not costumed tend to be reporters or police women. Sandra remains one of the very few female espionage operative.
       Her adventures are very much in the newspaper comic strip style with precast defined panel sizes. The pacing is also very much like you would expect in a daily strip which is understandable knowing that the publisher and more importantly the writers and artists were used to this type of work as what we know of modern comics were just coming along.
       As several different writer/artists were involved in the short but fun series, we never really get much background on Sandra but she definitely keeps busy and is quite enjoyable to follow, allowing for the confusion missing issues present.

GRADE

My Grade: B

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