Robbinsdale Whiz Bang Days
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Fawcett Publications was an American publishing company founded in 1919 in Robbinsdale, Minnesota by
Wilford Hamilton "Captain Billy" Fawcett (1885–1940). At the age of 16, Fawcett ran away from home to
join the Army and the Spanish–American War took him to the Philippines. When he returned to
Minnesota, he became a police reporter for the Minneapolis Journal. While a World War I Army captain,
Fawcett's experience with the Army publication Stars and Stripes gave him the notion to get into
publishing and his bawdy cartoon and joke magazine,
Captain Billy's Whiz Bang, became the launch pad for
a vast publishing empire embracing magazines, comic books and paperback books.
1939 Picture of Good Will Day Parade
Capt  Billy's Whiz Bang, 08-1923
Capt Billys Whiz Bang, 10-1936
Capt Billy's Whiz Bang, 05-1926
whiz bang logo
JULY 6, 2017
JULY 7, 2017
JULY 8, 2017
JULY 9, 2017
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The title Captain Billy's Whiz Bang combined Fawcett's military moniker with the nickname of a destructive World War I
artillery shell. According to one account, the earliest issues were mimeographed pamphlets, typed on a borrowed
typewriter and peddled around Minneapolis by Captain Billy and his four sons. However, in Captain Billy's version, he stated
that when he began publishing in October, 1919, he ordered a print run of 5,000 copies because of the discount on a large
order compared with rates for only several hundred copies. Distributing free copies of
Captain Billy's Whiz Bang to
wounded veterans and his Minnesota friends, he then circulated the remaining copies to newsstands in hotels. With gags
like, "AWOL means After Women Or Liquor", the joke book caught on, and in 1921, Captain Billy made the highly inflated
claim that his sales were "soaring to the million mark."
The book Humor Magazines and Comic Periodicals notes:
  Few periodicals reflect the post-WW I cultural change in American life as well as Captain Billy’s Whiz Bang. To some people [it] represented the
   decline of morality and the flaunting of sexual immodesty; to others it signified an increase in openness. For much of the 1920s, Captain Billy’ was
   the most prominent comic magazine in America with its mix of racy poetry and naughty jokes and puns, aimed at a small-town audience with
   pretensions of "sophistication".

Captain Billy's Whiz Bang is also immortalized in the lyrics to the song "Trouble" from Meredith Willson's, The Music Man    "Is
there a nicotine stain on his index finger? A dime novel hidden in the corncrib? Is he starting to memorize jokes from
Captain Billy's Whiz Bang?"

Captain Billy's Whiz Bang, was the first publication of Fawcett Publications. They ran for approximately 20 to 30 years. Also
stemming from the Fawcett Publications house was other well- known magazines as McCall's and the Redbook.

Just over 67 years ago the City of Robbinsdale started their city celebration and was trying to come up with a new name for it.
With the war going on at the same time and Billy Fawcett's publication business in Robbinsdale, it made sense that they would
tie into the magazine and its title"Whiz Bang" and thus our community celebration of "Whiz Bang Days" was created.

The building was torn down over 20 years ago and is now the patio for the Nonna Rosa’s restaurant in downtown Robbinsdale.
Photo of Captain Billy Fawcett