And I Quote: Matthew Murphy Discusses the Dell-Gold Key Split in 1962

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Now and then, comics buffs have questioned the split that turned what they had thought of as "Dell Comics" into "Dell Comics" and "Gold Key Comics." (For example, the licensed Tarzan title ran through #131 [Jul-Aug 62] under the Dell imprint and then picked up with #132 [Nov 62] with a Gold Key logo.) So Don and I asked what was going on - and printed the following response from Western Printing & Lithographing's Matthew H. Murphy in our fanzine Comic Art #4. Oh, and we asked him about the weird coding that appeared in place of earlier years' simple cover numbering. And, for that matter, about the company's lack of Comics Code oversight:

"With regard to a Western-Dell separation, this was by mutual agreement so that each company would be free to explore the potential business in the comics market without the self-imposed restrictions which formerly required Western and Dell to work exclusively with one another. In our previous relationship, Western Publishing Co. secured the rights, created the comics, printed them and shipped them out for Dell. Dell acted as the publisher and distributor and did the billing and paid Western for its creatively manufactured products. As far as the code number on the cover is concerned, this is an IBM system used to identify the comic and guide the dealer with respect to the off-sale date. The number in the indicia refers to the issue of the comic.

"We are not members of the Comics Code Authority nor was Dell. Our censorship is one which includes the approval of the licensors involved, and a series of inter-company readings guided by our policy of creating only wholesome entertainment. We are the largest producer of children's publications in the world and as such feel qualified to make competent judgment with respect to what is suitable for children and what is not."


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