Tuesday, September 14, 2021

The Secret History of Marvel Comics: Extended End Notes for Ch. 1

This particular blog post is something a bit different. It was supposed to be published back in 2013 as an adjunct to my book with Blake Bell, The Secret History of Marvel Comics.  It's really just a reference data dump, but an invaluable reference data dump, the result of several years of intense research. I always wanted readers to see the original expanded version of the first chapter's end notes, the most extensive look up to that time into the earliest publishing history of Martin Goodman, the years up to 1935. The draft of this post sat near-finished and unpublished for the last 8 years, languishing as other projects took priority. Eventually, I sort of forgot about it. But I always wanted to return to it. And now I have.

In the ensuing near-decade since the book's publication, additional data has come to light on the earliest professional experiences and backgrounds of both Martin Goodman and Louis Silberkleit. David Saunders has done a deep dive into Silberkleit's past on his pulp history blog, and my friend J.L. Mast has done an even deeper dive into Goodman's, thanks to the cooperation of the Goodman family, research in anticipation of his coming opus, a graphic novel on the Fathers of Marvel Comics. All this new background data has not been incorporated into what you will read below, and will ultimately add to what I write, becoming a literal focus knob (for those who actually remember focus knobs on TVs) to the years 1929-33. Regardless, the following will stand as what was known at the time of the book's publication and this is the extent of the earliest Goodman history as of 2013.........


The Secret History of Marvel Comics, in spite of being the most comprehensive look to date at the early publishing history of Marvel Comics founder Martin Goodman, is really a dual showcase for the enormous amount of long unseen artwork (much of it “never” seen) by extremely talented artists whose names we know and are familiar with from other venues.  In researching this book, it became obvious that space would ultimately become a factor and decisions had to be made as to what to include and what to leave out of the book. There was just too much material. Additionally, room for the type of extensive end notes I compiled for the early chapters just didn't exist and we had to instead resort to using the end notes more as protracted footnotes. 

Here below I present an extended and expanded version of a portion of the book's end notes and research. Some of it is a re-hash of the printed end notes but it’s mostly an expansion and discussion of certain topics that really needed more available space and was beyond the book's breadth and format design. I go month by month, utilizing all the trade journals to parse out and disengage all the individual, intertwined threads in the incestuous pulp history of 
Martin Goodman,  Louis SilberkleitA. Lincoln Hoffman and even (to a much lesser extent) Harry Donenfeld. As you can see, there was just no way to include all this within the scope of the book and also retain a half "art book" type sensibility. Here is a perfect place to expand upon, explain and annotate. Recorded below will also be verbatim quoting of a wealth of data mined from contemporary trade journals of the time. This data has rarely, if "ever" been presented in such an extensive capacity, and is a gold mine of information. The footnotes below do not relate to footnotes in the book. They only relate to footnotes in the body of the blog text. 

Chapter One - Extended End Notes

Acquiring details about the family history of the Goodman family proved to be an interesting challenge. Having no access to the Goodman family, I relied on the wealth of information available from the United States Federal Census and New York State Census records to unearth details on Isaac, Annie and their 13 children. Somewhere along the line I picked up data about a suspected 14th child that may have been born stillborn or died immediately after birth (a common occurrence at the turn of the 20th century), but this has not been confirmed as of this writing. And much to my own dismay, I don’t have it recorded anywhere as to where I heard that information.

The exact birth dates of Isaac (Aug,1872) and Annie (nee Gleichenhaus) (Sept,1875) Goodman were sourced from the 1900 Federal Census (1), a wonderful document that also gives exact months of birth of oldest daughters Grace (June, 1896), Tessie (July, 1898) and Julia (Dec, 1899), years of immigration (1891, 1889 respectively), marriage year (1895), place of birth (Russia) and Isaac's occupation (tailor) at time of the census. Their residence, 1751 Pitkin Avenue, was in the East New York section of Brooklyn. 

Note: The United States Naturalization records of August 5, 1901 for an "Esak" Goodman of 292 Marcy Avenue in Brooklyn, gives a date of immigration from Russia as August 8, 1891, seemingly confirming the year recorded in the 1900 Federal Census. It also has his occupation as a tailor but has a different date of birth, this time April 7, 1873, off by 8 months. The witness to the event was a neighbor/friend/co-worker (also a tailor) named Adolf Chaut (sic) living at 258 Marcy Avenue. Is this the same Isaac Goodman? The addresses are 4.2 miles apart but this means nothing as immigrant families frequently moved around looking for apartments to accommodate their growing households. Also, incorrect dates of birth, etc, entered into these records were extremely commonplace as language barriers often existed. I'll hold off any definite opinions and just leave this information out here.

By the 1910 Federal Census 
(3)the household had grown to 9 children with two year old "Moe" (Martin) born in 1908, Isaac’s employment pinned down to tailoring in a lady’s dress shop, the fact that Annie speaks Yiddish as her primary language, and that the family had now moved to 509 Howard Avenue, about a half mile away from their residence in the 1900 Federal census. 

Note: One thing commonplace to all the census records is the fact that Isaac Goodman worked as a tailor or as a garment worker of some kind. This conflicts with the data in author Sean Howe's recent book, Marvel Comics - The Untold Storywhere four lines into the book he relates that Isaac worked in construction until a fall injured his back and forced him to become a peddler. The source of this story, according to Howe, was Iden Goodman, Martin's older son. I cannot resolve this difference and personally feel that a reliance on period census data from several different sources is likely to be more accurate than anecdotal family memories about events a century earlier.

The 1915 New York State Census places the family now at 1721 Lincoln Place, Isaac working as a “clothes operator”, eldest daughter Grace working as a stenographer, Tessie as a bookkeeper and 7 year old "Moe" (Martin) at home along with Julia and younger siblings Sylvia, Abe and David. Rebecca Lena, Jennie and Helen are in school. 

The 1920 Federal Census accounts for all 13 children and another move two and a half miles southwest to 661 Powell Street. Isaac is now working as a "machine operator ladies clothes" (it is very hard to read the faded census).  "Moses" (Martin) is 11 years old and still in school, putting him approximately in the 5th or 6th grade. (6)

The 1925 New York State Census has the family moving back to 466 Howard Avenue (2 blocks north of the previous 509 Howard Avenue residence in the 1910 Census), only 6 children at home. Isaac working as an "operator cl?" (sic), Tessie at age 26 (illegible), Grace at 21 is a typist, Helen at 19 is a "? cutter" (possibly in a clothing or dress factory) and 17 year old "Moses" working as a “file clerk”. 15 year old Sylvia (future wife of Robbie Solomon) was still in school. This census actually initially posed a bit of a vexing problem because there are 2 separate listings for an Isaac and Annie Goodman in Brooklyn. The other listing is for 360 Chester Street and the ages are similar but off by 2 years. No children lived at this household but it is only a mile away. Did Isaac and Annie have a second apartment a mile away and were they counted twice in the Census? Probably not. It's likely a completely different family. The only quirk compounding this is that this family wasn't found in any other surrounding censuses (7)

The 1930 Federal Census has a move to 1796 St. John’s Place and the pinpointing of the area in Russia the family originally hailed from, Vilna, Lithuania. Isaac and Annie's years of immigration of 1894 and 1896, respectively, are now different than the years listed in the 1900 Federal Census, 1891 (Isaac) and 1889 (Annie). How to explain this is unknown, but it shows how census data can vary in accuracy. Annie's date is off by 7 full years! Again, I'd place more credence in the earlier 1900 listing, much closer to the actual event. Isaac and Annie are "not" listed as naturalized citizens, instead listed as "al", which likely stands for "alien". Issac is 58 and now not working.

22 year old "Morris" (Martin) still lived at home (along with 6 other siblings) and his listed profession is “circulation manager” in “magazine publication”. This would be for Eastern Distributing Corporation.  20 year old Sylvia is working as a stenographer, 18 year old younger brother Abraham’s listed profession was "bookkeeper" for a scrap metal wholesaler, a talent that would one day serve him well in Martin’s publishing empire. 16 year old David is a "clerk" in "magazine publication," 13 year old Sidney and 12 year old Arthur are still in school.

Finally, the 1940 Federal Census has "Martin," his wife Jean and their son Iden living at 71 Cedarhurst Avenue in Hempstead, Long Island. The household contained a 29 year old Czechoslovakian servant named Anna Antolik. Profits from 7 years of pulp publishing and the first 6 months of Marvel Mystery Comics had already made Martin a fairly wealthy man, it seems. 

The source for a long-standing industry anecdote about a young Martin Goodman traversing the country as a hobo stems from a seminal interview long-time friend and business lawyer Jerry Perles gave to David Anthony Kraft, published in Comics Interview #43 (1987). (10)  This story (correctly sourced) was further put into print and circulated by the late Les Daniels in Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World’s Greatest Comics (1991). Daniels also relates (without a source) how a young Martin was fascinated by periodicals throughout his childhood and as a child cut and pasted his own magazines together, glossing over a lot of history and getting several facts incorrect, including Martin’s date of birth. Daniels also names Goodman's very first pulp and the name and date of his first publishing company as Western Fiction and the Western Fiction Publishing Company (1934), which are half correct, having neglected (likely didn't know) about the earlier Newsstand Publications titles with Louis Silberkleit starting in early 1933. (11)

Daniels' book was the first time the masses got any real background on Martin Goodman and the book was quite successful, having a much wider readership than the industry fanzine interview it sourced from. But Kraft's earlier, original interview with Perles was priceless, a first person account from a friend of Martin who had known him since the mid 1930’s.

Jerry Perles relates that his wife Blanche was a classmate and friend of Jean Davis at New York University and both Jerry and Blanche knew Jean before she ever met a young Martin Goodman. Perles talks of being Martin’s business lawyer for a good deal of the 1940’s and 1950’s, initially litigating Timely’s run-in with Louis Silberkleit’s lawsuit over Captain America.

The exact quote from Perles: "Before his publishing days there were many tramp trips, freight cars, cooking beans over a fire. But he did see the country. I don't think you could mention a town to him that he didn't know about. He is knowledgeable about this country. It helped him a great deal later on in magazine publishing." (10)

Perles does not pin down an age for these “tramp trips”. We see by the 1920 Federal Census that Martin is in 6th grade. By the 1925 New York State Census Martin is 17 and working as a “file clerk”. By the 1930 census Martin is 22 and working as a “circulation manager in magazine publication”, which probably corresponds to Eastern Distribution. So is it before 1925? If so, Martin quit high school and left home to "ride the rails" at 16-17. Was it after 1925? If so, Martin left his job as a file clerk to "ride the rails" at 17-18. (The job as a file clerk could correspond to a mention by publishing historian Michael Feldman that Goodman may have apprenticed in the industry with Munsey Publications, an early dime novel and pulp publisher run by Frank Munsey, and whose biggest title was Argosy Magazine. I don't know the source for the Munsey connection from Feldman.)

To me, it just seems strange that Martin Goodman, the oldest son of a large, poor Brooklyn family, would drop out of school and "tramp trip" around the country. I find the notion of Isaac’s eldest son, rather than contributing to the family income, instead took off on what seems to be a period of self-discovery, somewhat apocryphal. How accurate is this story? It’s hard to say but from  Sean Howe, I learned that Martin’s oldest son Iden had confirmed the fact that journals exist from this period of Martin’s life and lends a degree of credence to some sort of travel happening. Exactly “what”, exactly "when", and for "how long", is up for conjecture. Two weeks? A month? Six months? A further notion I have on this matter will be related shortly.

Goodman’s earliest professional history long had been vague. We've long heard Goodman “worked for Hugo Gernsback in circulation."  What we know of Goodman and Gernsback (1884-1967) comes by way of comics fandom founder Dr. Jerry Bails, science fiction historian and editor Sam Moskowitz, and my friend, comics publishing historian Robert Beerbohm, who interviewed Moskowitz (1920-1997) years before he passed away. (12)

Moskowitz edited for Gernsback in the 1950’s on the title Science-Fiction Plus, knew Gernsback as far back as the late 1930’s, first as fan and later as an historian of the era and genre, and related stories to Beerbohm from Gernsback about Goodman back in the late 1920’s. Beerbohm had also interviewed artist Alex Schomburg at the 1976 Portland Comicon, an interview where Schomburg also tied Martin Goodman’s early work to an association with Gernsback, without any exact details that I know.

But was Goodman’s entry into the business actually working for Gernsback’s company? Joe Simon, in his biography My Life in Comics, writes "Before Gernsback's bankruptcy, Martin Goodman worked for his company, Experimenter Publishing, in the circulation department. So did Louis Silberkleit." (14) Pulp and comic book historian Will Murray writes in his introduction to the Marvel Comics Omnibus that Goodman worked in Gernsback’s circulation department and met Silberkleit there. (15) Yet there are seemingly no written sources or paper trails to prove any of this.  This same info appears to have been circulated for years and likely comes from a combination of Beerbohm’s Sam Moskowitz interview along with possibly Who's Who data questionnaires filled out for Jerry Bails and Hames Ware when they were producing the original Who's Who of American Comic Books, although the info does not appear in the first printed version of the Who's Who. From its appearance in the digital version, it became the source for all later Goodman bio data. (16)

Several curiosities are noticeable in the digital version of Bails' Who’s Who Goodman and Silberkleit entries. 

The Goodman entry has Goodman as: Eastern Distributor: Hugo Gernsback’s publications 1927-31.

The Silberkleit entry states: Supervisor: Circulation Department: Eastern Distribution: Hugo Gernsback’s publications 1927-31.

The Silberkleit entry places him as Goodman’s superior and working for Eastern Distribution.

In the July, 1928 issue of Author & Journalist, Harold Heresy (former editor of Clayton and Macfadden magazines) writes: : "I have joined the Eastern Distributing Corporation as general editorial advisor. This corporation distributes thirty-two national magazines.", placing Eastern's 1928 address at 120 W. 42nd Street. (17)

We can further correct the Who's Who entry above because we now have an exact date for Silberkleit's employment. According to a tiny notice in the August 15, 1929 (Vol 1478, #7) issue of Printer's Ink: (18)

So Louis Silberkleit worked for Hugo Gernsback as a circulation manager, leaving (when Gernsback went under) to join Eastern Distributing Corporation.

The Goodman entry in the Who's Who is vague and seems to be saying Goodman worked for Gernsback as his “Eastern Distributor”(?)  The scenario may be that “both” worked for Eastern Distribution and both worked on the Gernsback account. Goodman, further down the hierarchy (and in the trenches), probably got to know Gernsback well.

By virtue of the 1930 census we know Goodman’s position was in “circulation”, so the idea that he was out on the road as part of his job in the late 1920’s is a certainty, making one wonder if the story of Martin Goodman traversing the country is actually a conflation in Pearl’s memory of Goodman being on the road for Eastern, visiting towns and distribution centers in the late 1920’s, seeing city after city in his role as Eastern Distribution Company’s circulation point man, rather than a bohemian excursion in his late teens. A scenario like that seems to make a bit of sense, but at this point, we cannot possibly ever know for certain.

Pulp historian Mike Ashley, who wrote the definitive history of Hugo Gernsback (The Gernsback Years) made no mention of Goodman being employed by Gernsback, and also denies this likelihood. "I don't think Silberkleit worked directly for Gernsback. In the 1920's [Silberkleit] worked for the distribution company that distributed Gernsback's magazines and the two became quite close friends... I don't have any recollection of [Goodman] working for Gernsback. I don't doubt business links may have caused their paths to cross at some stage, but he was a generation after Gernsback and of a different mindset, so I can't imagine him working for him." 

Whatever the situation, one of Eastern’s accounts was Gernsback’s company, The Experimenter Publishing Company, which by 1927 was publishing Science and InventionRadio NewsSpare-Time Money Making, and most important to Goodman’s future career, Amazing Stories, the very first science fiction pulp magazine. What is without any doubt at all is the fact that Goodman learned all about selling magazines from Gernsback’s cover design sense and use of buzzwords in cover copy and titles. Goodman would take this knowledge with him and utilize it throughout his publishing career and where the Gernsback influence will be seen over and over. (20)

Goodman also would have been on hand to see first-hand, Gernsback forced into bankruptcy in 1929 by publisher and physical culture pioneer Bernarr Macfadden, as related in Gerard Jones’ Men of Tomorrow. Jones, with the research assist of publishing historian Michael Feldman, has written the best account of the intricacies of the incestuous and dog-eat-dog world of the cheap publishing business in the early part of the last century. (21) Gernsback lost his seminal Amazing Stories but soon regrouped with another round of publications.

In summary, Martin Goodman probably met Louis Silberkleit while they both worked at Eastern Distributing Corporation. Gernsback’s The Experimenter Publishing Company was one of the accounts and Gernsback worked out of 53 Park Place from as far back as 1923 when he was publishing Radio News and Science and Invention. In 1925, as per the 1925 New York State Census, young Martin was a “file clerk”, likely for Eastern (started in the earlier 1920’s by Paul Sampliner and Charles Dreyfus), which by 1928 was located at 120 W. 42nd St.

Louis Horace Silberkleit came from a similar, yet different background than Martin Goodman. Born in the Bronx on November 17, 1900 (his New York Times, February 25, 1986 obituary listing his age of death at 81 is obviously incorrect, he was 85) (22), the youngest of five children born to Israel and Julia Silberkleit, Polish Jews from Russia. Preceding Louis were Henrietta (b.1891), Elizabeth Rebecca (b.1893), Jacob (b.1896) and Augusta (b.1899). (23)

Israel Silberkleit was also a tailor but moved himself up the garment business ladder into a better financial position than Goodman’s father achieved (from tailor, to underwear factory business owner, to working in the dye industry, to furrier), 
(24),(25),(26), allowing Louis a chance at higher education, culminating with a B.S. from St. John’s College (the original name of St. John's University before it moved from Brooklyn to Queens) and a law degree from New York Law School (as well as being a 32nd Degree Mason). (27). In addition, some biographical sources mention that he was a licensed and registered pharmacist. Is this true? I'm not really sure, but I'm doubtful. That is a "lot" of schooling. If he followed a normal career track, he was done with all his education by about 1926. So what did he do? He entered the world of pulp publishing instead and the 1925 New York State Census has his occupation listed as "Circulation Manager" (28), the same occupation that Martin Goodman (who didn't finish high school) held in the 1930 United States Federal Census. On May 16,1926, Louis married Lillian Meisel. (29)

When Paul Sampliner and Charles Dreyfus of Eastern Distribution filed for bankruptcy in October of 1932. The trade journals of the time carried it this way:

The failure of the Eastern Distributing Company, early this month, has caused anxiety as to the future of magazines handled through this agency. Several of the best-selling pulp-paper magazines on the newsstands are affected." (30)

Below are two full page advertisements for Eastern Distributing Corporation during its heyday, as published in Printer's Ink Vol 141, #2, October 13, 1927 & Vol 141, #6, November 10, 1927:

Harry Donenfeld of the Merwil Publishing Company (with his brother Irving, publishers of La Paree, Gay ParisiennePep StoriesSpicy Stories, and Snappy Magazine) immediately formed Independent News with Sampliner, with money allegedly borrowed from Sampliner's mother.(31) 

Donenfeld’s company’s public standing in the industry had taken enormous hits in the trade journals leading up to this year and the Irwin and later Merwil Publishing Companies were looked upon by contributors as one of the industry’s least trustworthy publishers. A detailed look at Donenfeld’s background in the industry, including his political and publication industry web of connections and affiliations can to be found in the aforementioned Gerard Jones’ Men of Tomorrow (2004, Basic Books), but to see what the public was actually seeing starting in 1930 we must look at the following series of snippets culled from contemporary trade journals: starting in September, 1930:

September, 1930: The Irwin Publishing Company, 143 W. 20th Street, NY, which issues Hot Stories, Joy Stories, and La Paree, has been reported as slow in payments by many authorsResponding to these complaints as reported in the A&J, Mrs. Merle W. Hersey, editor, writes: “In the last ten months we have brought out twenty issues of different magazines, incurring about $5000 indebtedness to authors and illustrators. In the same period we have paid off more than three-fourths of the accounts. Now, because some few of these authors have not been paid in full, I suppose they write to you and complain, and you in turn send out a general alarm… Mr. Donenfeld is a responsible business man with excellent standing in the community and should in no way be allied with the fly-by-night publishers who bring out one or two or three issues of a magazine and then quit without paying up their bills. He meets his obligations, and with the exception of a few authors, has met and paid for all M.S.S. to date.” THE AUTHOR & JOURNALIST hopes that the Irwin Magazines will develop into substantial markets. (32)

October, 1930The Irwin publications apparently are making some effort to bring up past-due accounts with authors. (33)

December, 1930
A letter from Merle W. Hersey, editor for the Irwin Publishing Company, 143 W. Twentieth Street, New York, states: “All manuscripts accepted by me in future will be paid for on acceptance, decision to be given within ten days. You can run a notice to that effect if you wish, applying to both La Paree Stories and Gay Parisienne. I am taking no further responsibility for ‘payment on publication,’ but will see to it that the authors are paid for material already used by the Irwin Publishing Company, insofar as it is humanly possible for me to. I am quite sure that all accounts will be met eventually.”  (34)

January, 1931: Merle W. Hersey is editor of the two magazines published by The Irwin Publishing Co., at 143 West 20th St., New York City. Gay Parisienne and La Paree Stories seem to be making a better effort to pay writers for published stories, as three-quarters of the yarns published since the magazine’s inception have been paid for, according to the claim of Mrs. Heresy. The Irwin Publishing Co. has been in difficulties with writers due to dilatory payment, but in my opinion, writers can take a chance on this concern and gamble a few stories with this market anyway. I have made a careful study of the facts in this case, and think writers can lose nothing by taking a sporting chance. The two magazines are going over very well, and if the present business depression lifts, payment will probably be made promptly on publication. (35)

April, 1931: Gay Parisienne, now at 143 W. Twentieth St., NY, one of the Irwin Publishing Company magazines, has been purchased by the Merrill (sic) Publishing Company, Inc., according to information received from Merle W. Hersey, managing editor. The address will remain the same temporarily. No mention of change in ownership of La Paree Stories, another Irwin publication, is made in the announcement. These magazines announce rates of 1/2 cent a word on publication for sex fiction, but have been notably slow in paying contributors. (Donenfeld purchased the title from “himself”)  (36)

May, 1931: Gay Parisienne and La Paree Stories, formerly published by the Irwin Publishing Co., Inc., 143 W. Twentieth St., NY, according to information received from Merle W. Hersey, who continues as editor. The Irwin company is now insolvent and out of business. Concerning the change, Miss Hersey writes: "It will not be possible for us to clear up all old accounts, but the corporation is inclined to look after writers, and if possible, to pay up the bills against the two magazines. It will not attempt to pay for material used in Humor, Hot Stories and Joy Stories". Writers are advised to exercise caution in dealing with these magazines until they have demonstrated their ability to improve upon their past record in the matter of payment for material. (Donenfeld gets out of paying his debts by buying the titles from himself under a new publisher name)  (37)

May, 1931: Beginning with the April issue the Merwil Publishing Company took over the magazines published by the Irwin Publishing Company, and will continue publication at 143 W. 20th St, NY, until June 15th. Merle W. Hersey has been retained as editor, and in a statement to Writer’s Digest stated that she did not want any manuscripts submitted between June 15th and August 1st. The office will be closed during that period and after vacation it is probably that a change of address will be made. The magazines included in this group are Hot Stories, Joy Stories, and La Paree. Humor was recently discontinued.  (38)

July, 1931: So many complaints have been received relative to La Paree Stories and Gay Parisienne, sex magazines of the Merwil Publishing Company, 143 W. Twentieth Ave., NY, that THE AUTHOR & JOURNALIST feels constrained to reiterate warnings to writers who may contemplate submitting material to them. The company is successor to the Irwin Publishing Company, practically the same concern, which issued the same magazines and others which have been discontinued, without squaring matters with their contributors. Manuscripts accepted by these publications have been paid for chiefly in promises(39)

March, 1932:  Emphatic denial of the charge published in the January AUTHOR & JOURNALIST to the effect that the Merwil Publishing Company, 143 W. Twentieth St., NY, which issues Gay Parisienne, Gay Broadway, and La Paree Stories, has failed to meet its obligations to authors, is entered in a letter received from Irving Donenfeld, head of the company. We quote from Mr. Donenfeld's letter. "Most of our writers, illustrators, and artists are paid promptly, and in many cases, when they are in need of cash, get an advance before payment is due. As in every other line of business, there are occasions when people insist upon getting paid more than is due them. In your own publication you quote us as paying 1/2 cent a word. There were just two instances where writers demanded 1 cent a word, declined our offer of a check for what was legitimately due them, with the result that they are now suing us. They have the right to sue, and we have the right to defend ourselves. Whether they are right or we are right the court will eventually decide." Mr. Donenfeld accompanies this statement with an extended list of writers to whom he refers for verification of the statement that the magazines have paid for their contributions promptly on publication. THE AUTHOR & JOURNALIST published its warning in good faith, as a result of complaints received from certain authors who reported difficulties in making collection for published material. We recognize, however, that individual misunderstandings  are not necessarily conclusive as to the general policy of a publishing company. We are glad to be assured by Mr. Donenfeld that writers in general, who submit work to the Merwil magazines, can depend upon prompt payment on publication at the announced rate of ½ cent a word. (40)

April, 1932: Publication of a letter in our March issue from Irving Donenfeld, president of the Merwil Publishing Company, 143 W. Twentieth St., NY, has resulted in the receipt of numerous interesting letters from contributors giving their experiences with this concern, which now publishes Gay Parisienne, Gay Broadway, and La Paree. Mr. Donenfeld objected to a warning item, based on the experiences of contributors, in our January issue and claimed that his magazines are now paying for all material on publication. The numerous experiences reported this month relate to the Irwin Publishing Company, which went into bankruptcy and was reorganized under the name of the Merwil Publishing Company. Writers who had money due them from the Irwin Publishing Company are still holding the sack, and it is the contention of Mr. Donenfeld that his new company is not obligated to pay the same. With regard to the legal status of these accounts THE AUTHOR & JOURNALIST is not in a position to advise. We hold strongly, however, that there have been too many instances of publishers who evade their responsibility to authors by reorganizing, and that caution should be observed in submitting manuscripts to a company with such a record. (41)

March, 1933: The Merwil Publishing Co., 480 Lexington Ave., NY, announces that Mrs. Merle W. Hersey is no longer editor of its publications, consisting of La Paree, Gay Parisienne, Pep Stories, Spicy Stories, and Snappy Magazine. Irving Donenfeld, president, writes: "We are paying most of our writers upon acceptance and are gradually cleaning up the old debts that we contracted when our former distributors, the Eastern Distributing Co., went into bankruptcy and we lost over $27,000." (42)

And finally Donenfeld changes his address to a mail drop in Wilmington, Delaware in an effort to avoid New York’s Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia’s crackdown on newsstand smut, of which Donenfeld’s sex pulps were right in the crosshairs:

September, 1934: The Merwil Publishing Co., 480 Lexington Ave., NY, has become the D.M. Publishing Co., and offices have been moved to Wilmington, Del. The magazines of this group are devoted to sex fiction in short lengths and include Pep Stories, Gay Parisienne, Spicy Stories, La Paree Stories, and Snappy Magazine. (43)

It will be Harry Donenfeld, who in 1938 will push out Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson (of The Nicholson Publishing Company) and continue on as Detective Comics, Inc., making his fortune off the back of two teen-agers from Cleveland, Ohio named Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

This is how the trade journals quietly covered this event, published a few weeks after the debut of Action Comics #1:

May, 1938: To bring their information on the “Comic” magazines, as listed in our April issue, up to date, readers should note that the magazines of the Nicholson Publishing Co., at 432 Lexington Avenue., NY, have been taken over by Detective Comics, Inc., 480 Lexington Ave., which issues the following periodicals: Detective Comics, More Fun Comics, New Adventure Comics, Action Comics, and New Book Comics. Vincent Sullivan editor, writes: “The contents of the magazines are composed entirely of original comic and narrative strips and features, and not syndicated material. We are pleased to consider at all times free-lance cartoons and strips, preferably those of the illustrative and narrative type. Immediate payment is made upon acceptance(44)

Harry Donenfeld wasn’t the only person to see an opportunity in magazine distribution. When Eastern Distribution went under in October of 1932, it essentially left Louis Silberkleit and Martin Goodman out of work, that is, if both were still employed there. But it seems they may have seen the writing on the wall and gotten out before the end. With Donenfeld and Sampliner starting Independent NewsLouis Silberkleit took his protégé, Martin Goodman, and using his own finances along with the Shade Brothers (George and H. A.) for additional capital, (of the Shade Publishing Company out of Philadelphia, new publishers of Paris Nights), formed Mutual Magazine Distributors, with their offices, as per the March, 1933 Writer's Digest, right back in Gernsback's old building at 53 Park Place.(45)
But according to a notice in the September 29, 1932 issue of Printers Ink (Vol 160, #13), p.20, Silberkleit was President and General Manager of Mutual, seemingly incorrectly reported as at 98 Park Place, except that 98 Park Place was actually Hugo Gernsback's "then" current address! (46)

So was Gernsback a silent partner in Mutual? Either that or Mutual was started at 98 Park Place in Gernsback's current building and then innocently moved to Gernsback's old building at 53 Park Place by 1934. My feeling, as of this writing, is that Gernsback was not affiliated at all and the address just was coincidentally in his building in 1932.

Silberkleit then immediately set up his wife Lillian as Secretary/Treasurer. (The “official” Secretary/Treasurer, as printed in the indicia of the earliest Newsstand pulps, was L. Meisel, easily unraveled as Mrs. Silberkleit, as “Meisel” was her maiden name). (47)

There is one more incorrect factual piece of Silberkleit data that has now been promulgated around the world in print and internet media for decades. Jerry Bails’ Who’s Who of American Comics has an entry that Martin Goodman “partnered with Louis Silberkleit in pulps in 1931-1932”. There is absolutely no evidence of this being correct anywhere. Look up a myriad of online sources pertaining to Louis Silberkleit and you will find reference to his partnering Columbia in this period. This is wrong. What pulps? Going through every single issue, page by page, of every single trade publication of the time period, “nothing” is mentioned of any pulp company being formed by Silberkleit or Goodman until April of 1933, when these notices appeared:

Newsstand Publications, Inc., 53 Park Place, NY, is a new publishing company which will bring out a couple of pulp-paper magazines soon, for which it is buying material. Martin Goodman, editor, writes concerning its requirements. “We are interested in receiving western short stories ranging from 3000 to 6000 words in length. It must have fairly strong woman or love interest. The rate paid for accepted material is one to two cents a word, and a flat sum for a novel-length story.”

The other magazine is devoted to the underworld and gang type of story. Mr. Goodman writes: “Stories for this magazine should range from 5000 to 8000 words; The novel length is also desired. The stories must have an element of mystery, which must, however, not overshadow fast action. The rates will be one to one and a half cents per word on acceptance.”

The title of the new Western magazine announced by Newsstand Publications, Inc., on p.22 of this issue, is Western Supernovel, according to word received from Martin S. Goodman, editor, as last forms of this issue closed. The title of the underworld adventure magazine has not yet been selected. Mr. Goodman thus revises the information concerning its requirements “Action is the most important feature. We want mystery, but not a detective story. We want thrills and drama. We want the detective story taken out of the drawing room, the bedroom, the kitchen, and week-end parties, and placed out in the open where we can have some action. No deduction stories. The setting can be the west, Timbuctoo (sic), along the Amazon, or the top of a flagpole. In this magazine we are using shorts from 2000 to 8000 words; no novelettes, but we are using a book-length novel of 40,000 to 60,000 words. Rates from ½ cent to 2 cents a word, payable on acceptance. (48)

Vol 1, #1 (May/33)


Followed in May of 1933 by:

Another new string of pulps is being put out by Mutual Magazine Distributors, at 53 Park Place, under the editorship of Martin Goodman. The first one is called Complete Western Book Magazine. (Premature announcements elsewhere carried the name Western Supernovel, but the one I am giving appears on the printed cover.) 

The first issues carry complete novels which have appeared in book form, though never in any other magazine. However, the editor is looking for some good complete novels of 50,000 or 60,000 words which are new, as well as several shorts of 3000 to 6000 words for each issue. These should have plenty of good Western action, preferably with woman interest or romance. Rates will run from a half cent up to a cent and a half per word. No poetry is wanted. They might use a few true-fact fillers.

The second magazine edited by Mr. Goodman (address-53 Park Place) is not yet named, but is to be a detective magazine featuring plenty of action. Lengths are the same as for the Western. Give the reader a real bunch of thrills for his money; he expects plenty for that dime the magazine costs. Give him a lowdown villain, a strong crime motive, and action from the beginning to end. The deductive-minded detective is not wanted here.

Quick decisions are promised. Payment will be on acceptance for solicited manuscripts, but all others will be paid for on publication until the books get on their feet. (49)

“This” is the start of Silberkleit and Goodman’s publishing careers, Newsstand Publications, located at 53 Park Place in lower Manhattan. And like Donenfeld with Eastern, now Silberkleit/Goodman (and the Shade brothers) were “also” publisher/distributors. Silberkleit/Goodman (really primarily Silberkleit) had Newsstand and the Shade Brothers had The Shade Publishing Company.   

Newsstand Publications was intrinsically linked to Mutual Magazine Distributors. A later trade journal obituary entry further links the three. Lester Lenz is listed as the advertising contact for Mutual in various early 1933 Newsstand pulp issues. By 1938, the Philadelphia based Shade Publishing Company had changed name to Associated Authors, Inc., maintaining a New York office. This notice appeared, further linking Shade to Newsstand to Mutual:

Magazines of Associated Authors, Inc., 1008 W. York Street., Philadelphia, are now being edited by George W. Shade, president of the company, who replaces Mark T. Pattie. Lester Lenz, advertising manager and executive at the New York end, recently died. This group publishes Paris Nights, Scarlet Adventuress, Scarlet Confessions, and True Gang Life. (50)

So to summarize the links between Newsstand, Mutual and Shade:
  1. Louis Silberkleit is President and General Manager of Mutual (Printer's Ink)
  2. L. Meisel is Secretary/Treasurer of Newsstand Publications (pulp indicias)
  3. L. Meisel is Silberkleit's wife Lillian.
  4. Lester Lenz is advertising contact for Mutual (1933 Newsstand pulps)
  5. Lester Lenz is advertising manager for Shade Publishing (1938 trade journal obit.)
Almost immediately it was acknowledged in the trade magazines that Newsstand was using reprinted material.  

Western Supernovel, 53 Park Place, NY, although it issued a call for manuscripts, seems to be made up largely of reprint stories purchased after use by other magazines. (51) 

Just as quickly, the title of their western pulp changed to Complete Book Western Magazine after a single issuealthough the trade journals didn't catch on right away, referring back and forth between the two as though they were separate ongoing titles and not realizing that Western Supernovel lasted one issue.  Immediately the trade journals were announcing a new detective title:

That new detective magazine edited by Martin Goodman at 53 Park Place is called Black Book. I gave you all the dope on it last month. He is also editing Western Supernovel, which pays a half to two cents a word, but probably sticks fairly close to the minimum. (52) 

Black Book is the title of the new gangster and underworld magazine announced in April by Newsstand Publications, Inc., 53 Park Place, NY, edited by Martin Goodman, a companion to Western Supernovel. It uses short stories of 3000 to 6000 words and a book-length novel of 40,000 to 50,000 words. Payment for material is from one to one and a half cents per word on acceptance(53) 

Vol 1, #1 (June/33)

This second magazine was Black Book Detective, a hard-hitting noir magazine that hoped to cash in on the name recognition of Pro-Distributor’s, Inc.’s popular Black Mask pulp. The editor listed in the pulp was Ward Marshall but that was a phony house name (who would have been Goodman at this time, and later, as I will shortly relate, also possibly Lincoln Hoffman). Martin Goodman himself was the editor and the address for Newsstand is listed as 60 Murray Street, nothing more than the back service entrance to the same building at 53 Park Place (and the same "sometime" address as Mutual Magazine Distributors, the "other" address being 98 Park Place, Gernsback's address). These two addresses will continue to flip-flop in both indicia and trade magazine entries throughout the year.

53 Park Place 
[Main Entrance]

60 Murray Street
[Back service entrance]

A third magazine is also now planned but if not for the industry trade journals, we would have no idea what the connection is to Silberkleit/Goodman and Newsstand Publications. Long a puzzle to pulp historians, here's where it finally gets sorted out. The first notice reports it from Newsstand Publications:

A call for manuscripts for a new love story pulp magazine has been received from Miss Mary Gnaedinger, 53 Park Place, NY. This is to be a third in the group published by Newsstand Publications. “A minimum of one half cents per word will be paid on acceptance. The magazine will use one complete novelette of 20,000 words in each issue, and shorts from 8000 to 12,000 words. Stories are to be about a lovely city type of girl who finds love through adventure or otherwise. She must be very sweet and charming.” (54)  

The second notice names the magazine Romantic Love Secrets, reports its issued by Graham Publications and relates the address has moved to 60 Murray Street, which is no move at all. It's the same address as 53 Park Place.

Romantic Love Secrets is the title of the new love-story magazine announced by Mary Gnaedinger, editor. The magazine is issued by Graham Publications, Inc., and has moved to 60 Murray St., New York. Miss Gnaedinger asks for short-stories from 5000 to 10,000 words in length, novelettes of 15,000 words, and novels of 35,000. “We want love stories about city girls, who must be very sweet and charming. The editor is not adverse to her having a good time stepping out among smart people.” Some poetry is desired. Rates are ½ cent a word up, on acceptance. (55)  

Vol 1, #1 (July/33)

The third notice reports that the address shift (incorrect at 20 Murray Street) is to Graham (from Newsstand).

Romantic Love Secrets is the sugary title of the new love-story magazine which Mary Gnaedinger (formerly of Clayton’s) is starting. The address is now shifted to Graham Publications, 20 (sic) Murray Street. Requirements: Complete novels of 35,000 words, novelettes of 15,000 words, shorts of 5000 to 10,000 words. Payment on publication at a half to two cents, but nearer the minimum than otherwise. Heroine should be lively and lovely city girl, strictly good—no “betrayed girl” theme. (56) 

 The fourth notice ties the two companies together:

That new love magazine, previously announced, at 53 Park Place, has come out under the title of Romantic Love SecretsMary Gnaedinger is editing, and there is a tie-up with the Newsstand Publishing Group, though the company on record is the Graham Publications. Shorts up to four thousand words are especially desired. Real romance with emphasis on the city girl. The longer lengths are overstocked at present. (57) 

Thus begins the corporate shell game of spreading around liability. Graham Publications was Silberkleit and Goodman’s very first sub-publisher, used only this one time for this first romance pulp. The title would go to twice a month publication for 3 or 4 months before reverting back to monthly, changing title to Romantic Love Magazine (still published by Graham Publications) for a single issue, and canceled by the June/34 issue.

Not mentioned yet is one more participant in the founding year of 1933, A. Lincoln Hoffman.

Around this time Silberkleit and Goodman are joined at Newsstand Publications by 32 year old, Illinois born A. Lincoln Hoffman (born Joseph Marion Hoffman), who, according to David Saunders, was formerly of Dell Publications and hired to be an editor. (58) Saunders unfortunately incorrectly relates the same story about Goodman and Silberkleit forming Columbia in 1930 with Maurice Coyne, before divorcing themselves and Goodman then starting Newsstand in 1933 alone. This never happened, as explained above.

Hoffman joined as an editor and by the fall of 1933 a fourth title is prepared and released with a Dec/33 cover date, Gang World Vol 1, #1, taking over and re-numbering the title discontinued in 1932 by Popular Publications. The sub-publisher is now Spencer Publications, “seemingly” a third sub-publisher (with Graham Publications) of Newsstand, published out of the same office address of 60 Murray Street. But was this Silberkleit/Goodman or was it a title put out by Hoffman alone? All evidence point to it being Silberkleit/Goodman as indicia data has it being nationally distributed by Mutual Magazines, Inc. (of 53 Park Place) and an ad for the first Dec/33 issue can be found in the Dec/33 issue of Black Book Detective, along with ads for the Nov/33 Romantic Love Secrets and Complete Western Book Magazine, all Silberkleit/Goodman titles.

Vol 1, #1 (Dec/34)

By the close of 1933, Newsstand Publications (and Graham, and Spencer Publications), operating out of 53 Park Place (or 60 Murray Street) consisting of Louis Silberkleit (owner, money, circulation), Martin Goodman (editor, circulation) and A. Lincoln Hoffman (editor), possessed “four” ongoing titles: Complete Western Book MagazineBlack Book DetectiveRomantic Love Secrets, and Gang World.

These four titles had released a total of 13 pulp issues and were getting a lot of trade journal press as the new boys in town. They had their own distribution company, Mutual Magazine Distributors (Silberkleit-Goodman-Shade Brothers, under the same addresses) and were poised for expansion as 1934 rolled in. Unfortunately, disaster arrived instead.

Just as financial ruin had descended upon Eastern Distribution in 1932, a combination of several factors including the Mayor’s crusade against indecent publications, caused Mutual to follow suit into bankruptcy in the late 1933 to early 1934 period. Will Murray writes in the Marvel Comics Omnibus introduction that Mutual ended up owing Silberkleit $23,000 and Newsstand couldn't pay their printer in Chicago, W.F. Hall. The joke is that for just this reason were sub-publisher corporate entities created. Silberkleit owed himself the money and disentangled himself from the mess by selling out his stake in Newsstand to Goodman and Hoffman, who likely cut a deal with publisher Hall to keep publishing on credit. On paper, W.F. Hall was now the publisher for a short term. The litigation fallout in the Mutual Magazine Distributor's bankruptcy would culminate in a 1938 lawsuit between Magazine Digest Pub. Co. v. Shade et al. The case is covered in the oft used textbook Principles of Business Law, and recounts that on September 19, 1933, Mutual was in arrears to Magazine Digest in the amount of $1162.12. (59)

Louis Silberkleit would regroup for several months and then start his own pulp publishing business launched as Winford Publications at 165 Franklin Street with Double-Action Western Vol 1, #1 (Aug/34). Bill Barnes is listed as editor and there is an ad for Hugo Gernsback's Wonder Stories as well as a call for a letters page in future issues.

Vol 1, #1 (Sept/34)


Silberkleit would add Real Western Magazine (Jan/35), Mystery Novels Magazine Vol 2, #5 (Jan/35) (picking up the numbering from an established pulp title he bought from Doubleday Doran & Co.), Complete Northwest Novel Magazine (Sept/35), Western Action Novels (Mar/36) and Double-Action Gang Magazine (May/36), all published under his Winford Publications company. Two final pulps in 1936 were published under a new sub-publisher, Chesterfield PublicationsSmashing Novels Magazine (May/36) and Smashing Western (Sept/36).

Both Writer’s Digest and Author & Journalist, in their May/37 issues, printed a letter from Winford Publications Editorial Director Cliff Campbell (a house name as the real editor was Abner J. Sundell) that included this extremely important history: the first time in print in any trade journal where Louis Silberkleit's name is actually linked to Newsstand Publications:

For authors who are unacquainted with the Winford Group, here is a bit of our past history:

A little more than three years ago, Louis H. Silberkleit sold his interest in Newsstand Publications Inc., and with approximately the equivalent of a shoestring and a hank of hair, he started publishing Double Action Western in a hole in the wall, down at 165 Franklin Street. Through the splendid cooperation of very many authors, he managed to put out a good book, and gradually built up a line of magazines. (60), (61) 

This is further corroboration debunking the notion that Columbia Publications was an early Silberkleit/Goodman company in 1930 or 1932. No such company existed that far back. Columbia, as a company name, exists in the late 1930’s as an umbrella for a myriad of sub-publishers, but doesn’t appear in any of the trade journals throughout the 1930's.  

In the Apr/42 issue of Writer’s Digest, Silberkleit wrote in to heavily complain that his “Columbia” was being unfairly singled out for using reprints in the past, a practice he disavows as he explains his own personal lack of connection to its editorial policy at that time (totally false as he was merely trying to get away from the earlier Columbia’s debts and obligations when he reorganized a “new” Columbia in November of 1940). Silberkleit cites how he made a great deal of money in the comic book business and used that money to relaunch a "new" Columbia in 1940.

Silberkleit writes:

“Up to November 1940, I was the "fall guy" for all these publishing companies, such as Winford, Double Action Magazines, Chesterfield, and the original Columbia Publications. I had nothing to do with the editorial policy of the books. Up to February 1940, the companies were using new stories as well as reprints and from what I am given to believe somebody maliciously offered to me stories which had appeared elsewhere and I paid for them as new stories.  Surely in a lot of other magazines reprints were used but they were never mentioned as new stories. I knew that this wasn't a good way to run a business but I just couldn't do anything about it. However in 1939 and early 1940 I made a great deal of money in the comic business and I took over in November of 1940 the old company known as Columbia Publications. I got together the best titles, and Harold Hammond and myself started a new company. I have already written you that every author who submitted stories to any of the old companies has been paid; not one cent was due for any stories.

Since the new Columbia started in November 1940, no reprints have been used, at least that is, to the best of our knowledge, because if a man sold us a story and signed the check representing that it was a new story and it might later develop that it wasn't, certainly this is not our fault” (62)

While this “2ndColumbia does become the company name of record for Silberkleit’s pulp company, the original name of the company was Winford Publications and all the immediate pulp sub-publishers were called subsidiaries of Winford Publications: Blue Ribbon Magazines, Inc., Chesterfield Publications, Inc., and Northwest Publications, IncColumbia Publications would become a 5th sub-company and rise to eventually being the primary corporate name, then as Silberkleit explains above, re-organized again into a "new" Columbia in 1940 (and not obligated for the debts of the "old" Columbia).

With the departure from Newsstand Publications by Louis Silberkleit, now comes the miasma of the Goodman/Hoffman relationship. Gang World had already appeared in late 1933 as a Spencer Publication, the suspected third sub-publisher of Silberkleit/Goodman. In the spring of 1934, Martin Goodman moves out to 305 Broadway (the corner of Broadway and Duane Street) and Hoffman moves uptown to 220 W. 42nd Street. This coincides with the debut of two new pulp magazines, The Masked Rider, published by a new sub-publisher Ranger Publications, and Western Novel and Short Stories, published by Newsstand Publications.  

The indicia of the first 2 issues of The Masked Rider (Apr & May) has as the editorial address 140 W. 71st St, neither Goodman’s nor Hoffman’s known business addresses at this exact time (which according to trade journals, noted “every” move these companies made since they served prospective authors looking for writing work). The 1940 Federal Census places Hoffman’s home a block away at 20 W. 72nd Street in the Franconia Building, across the street from Central Park and the famed Dakota Building, implying Hoffman could very likely have either produced these issues out of his home or in an office around the block (depending where he was actually living in 1934, although "why" would he need an office around the block if he already had an office on West 42nd Street?).  

Editing probably was Alice Phillips, a later editor for Hoffman’s pulp line of 1936-37, and Hoffman’s sister-in-law (Hoffman was married to Alice’s sister Evelyn). (63) 

Vol 1, #1 (Apr/34)

So there are three things intersecting here simultaneously. Louis Silberkleit sells out, Goodman and Hoffman move out, and Masked Rider appears under a Ranger Publications sub-publishing entity, published out of an address one block from Lincoln Hoffman's 1940 home address. The question will always be whether Ranger Publications was one final Silberkleit/Goodman sub-publishing company that never saw an issue published under Silberkleit/Goodman, or rather by Lincoln Hoffman, who immediately took over the Ranger Publications imprint upon Silberkleit's departure.

The trade journals of the time followed the hopscotch movements of Goodman and Hoffman and shed some interesting light on all these questions and more. Let's see if we can piece it together as the stage is set below:

Graham Publications, 60 Murray Street, announce a new monthly called Western Novel and Short Stories. This features a 70,000 word western complete novel of romantic, thrilling adventure. In addition, each issue will carry several shorts. Well-known names are announced for the first issue, but there should be a chance to break in. This company pays low rates—on or after publication. (64) 

This is incorrect as Western Novel and Short Stories (Apr/34) actually was published by Newsstand Publications, not Graham. Yet, it does link and confirm the two nicely.

There is another group of pulp publications which is associated financially with those last magazines (Complete Western Book & Western Novel and Short Stories, both out of 53 Park Place) but which have a different editorial mailing address. These include: The Black Book Detective Magazine, Gang World Magazine, The Masked Rider, and an astrological magazine. The last named is to be entirely staff prepared. 

The editor prefers that you read the magazines to learn the type of material preferred in each. “Rates are by arrangement for these three magazines. Payment on acceptance. Queries are encouraged from established authors. Address all manuscripts and letters to 140 West 71st Street, New York City.” (65) 

Hoffman is still "financially associated" with Newsstand (Goodman) but maintains a separate editorial office within a block of his 1940 home address. 

Newsstand Publications and Graham Publications, formerly at 60 Murray St., NY, have moved. Romantic Love Secrets, issued by Graham Publications, and edited by Mary Gnaedinger, has been re-entitled Romantic Love Magazine and is now located at 305 Broadway, New York. Complete Western Book and Western Novel and Short Stories, Newsstand Publications, have moved also to 305 Broadway and remain under the editorship of Martin Goodman. Black Book, now a Ranger Publications magazine, and Gang World, issued under the banner of Spencer Publications, have moved to 220 W. 42nd St. These two magazines are now under the managing editorship of Alice Phillips.(66)  

Goodman and Hoffman have moved out to different addresses. Goodman appears to keep Graham Publications and its single romance title. He also has Complete Western Book and Western Novel and Short Stories under the heading of Newsstand Publications.

Lincoln Hoffman has taken Black Book and changed its sub-publisher to Ranger Publications, has Gang World under Spencer Publications and Masked Rider, also under Ranger Publications.

The Masked Rider, 220 W. 42nd St., New York, is a new monthly magazine devoted to straight Western fiction filled with dramatic action. It is published by Ranger Publications which also issue Black Book. Jack Phillips, managing editor. (67)  

Hoffman now has his entire family on the staff. Alice Phillips is his wife's sister and Jack Phillips is probably her brother, or Hoffman's brother-in-law. The 1940 Federal Census has a Maurice J. Phillips in the same West 72nd Street household. Maurice J. may likely be Jack Phillips and his census recorded occupation is in fact "editor" (in publishing).

By June 1934, things are reiterated;

Black Book Detective Magazine and Gang World, which were formerly at 53 Park Place, and The Masked Rider, first announced at 140 West 71st Street, are now settled in editorial offices at 220 West 42nd Street. Jack Phillips is the managing editor.

Romantic Love Secrets, edited by Mary Gnaedinger, has changed its name to Romantic Love Magazine. It has changed its offices from 60 Murray Street (also known as 53 Park Place) over to 305 Broadway. Also moving from 60 Murray Street to 305 Broadway are Western Novel and Short Stories and Complete Western Book, both edited by Martin Goodman(68)  

Now Lincoln Hoffman, in addition to publishing a pulp string now complete and separate from Martin Goodman, starts a new sideline, keeping him linked to Goodman and Newsstand:

An Agency called the Publishers and Producers Exchange at 220 West 42nd Street, with Alice Phillips as managing editor, is buying practically all the stories published in Black Book, Masked Rider, Gang World, Complete Western Book, and Western Novel and Short Stories. I was unable to get detailed information on short notice from Publishers and Producers Exchange concerning who owns them, or their reasons for existence, if any, aside from script purchases.(69) 

By September, 1934, Martin Goodman moves back in with Hoffman at 220 W. 42nd Street and they now operate out of the same office. 

Western Novel & Short Stories and Complete Western Book, Newsstand Publications, Inc., should now be addressed at 220 W. 42nd St, New York, the same address as Ranger Publications, with which they are associated. (70)

Ranger and Newsstand Publications, after shifting around town in various offices, have finally concentrated forces at 220 West 42nd Street, and all manuscripts should be sent there. Ranger Publications, of which Lincoln Hoffman is president, include Black Book Detective Magazine and Masked Rider. Alice Phillips edits the former; Jack Phillips, the latter. Newsstand Publications, of which Martin Goodman is president, include Complete Western Book and Western Novel and Short Stories. This excludes Gang World, which is a separate corporation. Mr. Hoffman buys for all four magazines through his Publishers and Producers Exchange at the same address. (71)

The separate corporation mentioned with respect to Gang World is Spencer Publications.  But the point was moot as Gang World was cancelled with the July, 1934 issue, putting a final nail into the coffin of Spencer Publications.

So from approximately Sept/34 to Mar/35, Martin Goodman and Lincoln Hoffman shared office space and an incestuous business relationship transpired with Hoffman's agency buying scripts for both companies, yet they maintained separate publishing concerns, Newsstand and Ranger.

This "Statement of Ownership" from the Volume 3, #4, Feb/35 issue of Black Book Detective reveals this incestuous relationship.....

The statement is sworn to on September 28, 1934. The Notary is Maurice Coyne. Who is Maurice Coyne?  Maurice Coyne was Martin Goodman's accountant. Maurice Coyne was future one-third partner of MLJ Publications (along with Louis Silberkleit and John Goldwater), the comic book wing of Louis Silberkleit's Columbia Publications, which will eventually become Archie Comics. Maurice Coyne will be the man who informed Simon & Kirby that Martin Goodman was screwing out the creators on the handshake agreement of Captain America Comics profits, likely hoping to drive them to MLJ Publications (but instead drove them over to Harry Donenfeld and Jack Liebowitz's Detective Comics, Inc.)   

Lincoln Hoffman is the publisher of record above at 220 W. 42nd Street. Alice Phillips is the Managing Editor, and ..... Martin Goodman is the Business manager! So Goodman held this capacity seemingly for a very short time because as next we see, he goes solo.

Pulling away from the awkward Goodman/Hoffman intermingling, Martin Goodman continued to expand, starting a new pulp western called Western Fiction in cover dated January, 1935. This title, published under the new sub-publisher Western Fiction Publishing Co., Inc., was Goodman's first solo publishing company. The notice incorrectly identifies it as Newsstand Publications.

Western Fiction is the title of a new magazine of Western Romances being brought out by Newsstand Publications, Inc., of 220 W 42nd Street, NY, under editorship of Martin Goodman, who states “We are in need of short stories of 3,000 to 7,000 words. Decisions will be prompt and good rates of payment will be made by arrangement”. (72) 

Lincoln Hoffman also began to expand solo. May of 1935 saw the publication of two new titles,The Gang Magazine and Greater Western Magazineboth published under a new company, the A. Lincoln Hoffman Publishing Company.

Great Western, 220 W. 42nd St., NY, is another new magazine of the A. Lincoln Hoffman Publishing Company(73) 

Trade journals had a tough time keeping the two linked companies straight. Here’s Writer’s Review’s  Dec/34 entry, lumping all the pulps of both companies in with Lincoln Hoffman:

Newsstand Publications is connected with Ranger Publications, using the same offices. Ranger Publications is headed by Lincoln Hoffman and includes Masked Rider Western Magazine, Black Book and two new westerns, Western Fiction and Greater Western. All of these magazines are actively in the market for material.

The phrase “is connected” is nebulous and non-specific. The connection was a financial one because both companies, though both housed at 220 W. 42nd Street, now maintained separate lines, corporations and editorial staffs. 

I wondered above whether Hoffman possibly owned Spencer and Ranger from the start (which is doubtful), but further confusing this scenario are the advertisements found in these early pulps. 


The Dec/33 issue of Black Book Detective (Newsstand Publications, Inc.) has partial or full page ads for Complete Western Book Magazine (Newsstand), Gang World (Spencer), and Romantic Love Secrets (Graham).

The Apr/34 and May/34 issues of Gang World (Spencer Publications, Inc.,) have partial and full page ads for Black Book Detective (Newsstand), Complete Western Book Magazine (Newsstand), The Masked Rider (Ranger), Romantic Love Secrets (Graham), and Western Novel and Short Stories (Newsstand).

The June/34 issue of Complete Western Book Magazine (Newsstand Publications, Inc.) has partial or full page ads for Black Book Detective (Newsstand), Gang World (Spencer), The Masked Rider (Ranger), Romantic Love Secrets (Graham), and Western Novel and Short Stories (Newsstand).


*** [And what to make of this ? ...  Zodiac Publications, 258 Broadway, apparently distributed by Mutual and no other connection other than the ad in Complete Western Book Magazine. It was a rarity for a non-Newsstand publication to get an ad in a Newsstand publication. In fact, the only other non-Newsstand (and related) publication I'd ever seen advertised (and distributed by Mutual) was Frank Armer's Love Revels, published by his Forward Publications in 1933-34, and also had Newsstand title ads inside their issues!]***

[Zodiac Publications ad in Newsstand pulp.]


[Frank Armer's Love Revels (Forward Publications) distributed by Mutual with Newsstand ads inside.]


So what exactly was going on? I hate to backtrack and re-hash, but a stripped-down, concise summary of already shown trade journal blurbs of the period states:

  1. Romantic Love Secrets was Newsstand “shifting” to Graham 
  2. Gang World was a different corporation (Spencer)
  3. Newsstand and Ranger were “connected” at the same address. 

Did Lincoln Hoffman start his own small side pulp line while still at Newsstand (Gang World, Spencer Publications, 60 Murray Street) and then launch The Masked Rider near or out of his own home, (Ranger Publications, 140 W. 71st Street) during the short period Martin Goodman moved out to 305 Broadway and “before” Goodman moved “back” with Hoffman at 220 W. 42nd Street, where Hoffman then took over Black Book Detective, switching the sub-publisher from Goodman’s Newsstand to Hoffman’s Ranger? They will share space, being “connected”, with Hoffman buying stories for both lines for approximately 7 months. 

The alternative, and more likely scenario, is that Louis Silberkleit started both Gang World (Spencer) and Masked Rider (Ranger), leaving Gang World to be run by Hoffman (before he left), and Masked Rider (leaving as it debuted).

In April of 1935 Martin Goodman moves his operation to 11 W. 42nd Street (right off 5th avenue, facing the NY Public Library) and begins his solo career as a publisher.

Newsstand Publications, of which Martin Goodman is president, and the A. Lincoln Hoffman Publishing Company have split up their offices. (74)

Newsstand Publications Inc., formerly at 220 W 42nd Street, have moved to larger quarters at 11 W 42nd Street. Martin Goodman, President, writes: “We are bringing out two new magazines, one devoted to adventure and one to detective fiction. (75)  

11 West 42nd Street

Lincoln Hoffman now puts The Masked Rider and Black Book Detective on hold for 9 months and 11 months respectively, then launches three new pulp titles, two under his H. Lincoln Hoffman Company imprint, The Gang Magazine (May/35)Greater Western Magazine May/35), and buys the long-running title West from Doubleday Doran and Co., Inc., picking up the numbering with the Vol 40, #6, (Sept/35) issue under a new sub-publisher, West Magazines, Inc. His partner on this book is Edmund Collier, who had been a member of West's editorial staff for seven years while being published by Doubleday Doran. Collier edited West out of a Garden City, NY address, not Hoffman's editorial office at 220 W. 42nd Street. (76)  

Hoffman continues to publish into 1936. The Gang Magazine was cancelled after 3 issues and Greater Western also vanished, leaving only WestThe Masked Rider and Black Book Detective. Issues of Black Book and Masked Rider would skip months at the end of the year "owing to a change in distributors." (77)

Then in 1937, distribution problems once again reared its head. Hoffman got out 6 total pulp issues the entire year; 2 Black Book Detectives, 1 Masked Rider and 3 issues of West:

Distribution troubles have held up the three pulps put out by Lincoln Hoffman for the past few months. But these have been settled, and a new distributor is on the job. So it is likely that these magazines will be buying now. These are Black Book Detective, The Masked Rider, and West. Address them all at 220 West 42nd Street.  (78)

Distribution troubles were then further complicated by a company-wide illness, as reported in Writer's Digest:

The editorial staff of the Ranger Magazines, Masked Rider and Black Book Detective Magazine, have been thrown out of gear by a mass attack of illness. So if your reports are slow, they hope to be giving their usual prompt decisions. These are located at 220 West 42nd Street. (79)

Then, this entry:

Black Book Detective, The Masked Rider, and West, magazines of the Ranger Publishing Co., at 220 W 42nd St., NY, have been acquired by Standard magazines, Inc., and will be added to the Thrilling group, 22 W 48th St., NY. Leo Margulios, editorial director, states that a definite policy for the magazines has not yet been decided upon. (80)

And finally:

The fate of West, Black Book, and The Masked Rider is undetermined just now, but publication has been suspended. Jack Phillips and Ned Collier have joined the staff of Magazine Publishers. And Lincoln Hoffman is planning on a long trip. Editorial offices were formerly at 220 West 42nd Street. (81)

With that, A. Lincoln Hoffman vanishes from the pulp landscape (his 1940 census entry has him employed as a private secretary in the music business) and Martin Goodman begins his ascension into Red Circle and Timely Comics history.


[All cover scans are from author's collection and photographs taken by author in person.]

  1. 1900 United States Federal Census, enumerated June 14, 1900; Ancestry.com
  2. Unites States Naturalization Records, August 5, 1901; Ancestry.com
  3. 1910 United States Federal Census, enumerated April 21, 1910; Ancestry.com
  4. Howe, Sean. Marvel Comics - The Untold Story, HarperCollins, 2012
  5. 1915 New York State Census, enumerated June 1, 1915; Ancestry.com
  6. 1920 United States Federal Census, enumerated January 2, 1920; Ancestry.com
  7. 1925 New York State Census, enumerated June 1, 1925; Ancestry.com
  8. 1930 United States Federal Census, enumerated April 2, 1930; Ancestry.com
  9. 1940 United States Federal Census, enumerated April 30, 1940. Ancestry.com
  10. Kraft, David Anthony. Interview with Jerry Perles, Comics Interview #43, Fictioneer Books Ltd.,1987
  11.  Daniels, Les. Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World's Greatest Comics, Harry N. Abrams Inc., 1991, p.17-18
  12. Beerbohm, Robert. Private interview with Sam Moskowitz (1990's)
  13. Beerbohm, Robert. Private interview with Alex Schomburg (1976)
  14. Simon, Joe. My Life in Comics, Titan Books, 2011, p.57
  15. Murray, Will. Introduction to Marvel Comics Omnibus, Marvel Entertainment, Inc. (2009)
  16. Bails, Jerry & Hames Ware. The Who's Who of American Comic Books
  17. The Author & Journalist, July, 1928
  18. Printer’s Ink, August 15, 1926
  19.  Mike Ashley, private e-mail to Blake Bell.
  20. Long championed by my pal, publishing historian Robert Beerbohm
  21. Jones, Gerard. Men of Tomorrow, Basic Books, 2004
  22.  New York Times obituary of Louis Silberkleit, February 25, 1986
  23. 1900 United States Federal Census, enumerated June 14, 1900; Ancestry.com
  24. 1910 United States Federal Census, enumerated April 21, 1910; Ancestry.com
  25. 1925 New York State Census, enumerated June 1, 1925; Ancestry.com
  26. 1930 United States Federal Census, enumerated April 2, 1930; Ancestry.com
  27. Who is Who in Publishing. Alexander Peter Wales, 1965
  28. 1925 New York State Census, enumerated June 1, 1925; Ancestry.com
  29. New York City Grooms index
  30. The Author & Journalist, October 1932
  31. Jones, Gerard. Men of Tomorrow, Basic Books, 2004, p.89
  32. The Author & Journalist. September, 1930
  33. The Author & Journalist. October, 1930
  34. The Author & Journalist, December, 1930
  35. "The Sex Story Markets". Writer's Digest, January, 1931
  36. The Author & Journalist. April, 1931
  37. The Author & Journalist. May, 1931
  38. Writer's Digest. May, 1931
  39. The Author & Journalist. July, 1931
  40. The Author & Journalist. March, 1932
  41. The Author & Journalist. April, 1932
  42. The Author & Journalist. March, 1933
  43. The Author & Journalist. September, 1934
  44. The Author & Journalist. May, 1938
  45. Writer's Digest. May, 1933
  46. Printers' Ink, Vol 160, #13; September 29, 1932, p.20
  47. Black Book Detective, Vol 1, #2, July, 1933, (indicia)
  48. The Author & Journalist. April, 1933
  49. Writer's Digest. May, 1933
  50. The Author & Journalist. January, 1938
  51. The Author & Journalist. May, 1933
  52. Writer's Digest. July, 1933
  53. The Author & Journalist. June, 1933
  54. The Author & Journalist. June, 1933
  55. The Author & Journalist. July, 1933
  56. Writer's Digest. July, 1933
  57. Writer's Digest. August, 1933
  58. Saunders, David. The Art and Social Conditions of John Walter Scott (1907-1987), Illustration Magazine #14, Summer, 2005
  59. Corley, Robert N. & William J. Robert. Principals of Business Law, 9th Edition, Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1971, p.655-666
  60. The Author & Journalist. May, 1937
  61. Writer's Digest. May, 1937
  62. Writer's Digest. April, 1942
  63. 1940 United States Federal Census, enumerated April 26, 1940; Ancestry.com
  64. Writer's Digest. March, 1934
  65. Writer's Digest. April, 1934
  66. The Author & Journalist. May, 1934
  67. The Author & Journalist. May, 1934
  68. Writer's Digest. June, 1934
  69. Writer's Digest. July, 1934
  70. The Author & Journalist. September, 1934
  71. Writer's Digest. September, 1934
  72. The Author & Journalist. December, 1934
  73. The Author & Journalist. February, 1935
  74. Writer's Digest. April, 1935
  75. The Author & Journalist. March, 1935
  76. The Author & Journalist. September, 1936
  77. The Author & Journalist. November, 1936
  78. Writer's Digest. February, 1937
  79. Writer's Digest. August, 1937
  80. The Author & Journalist. November, 1937
  81. Writer's Digest. November, 1937


  1. Lo Mike, I, for one, did not know this blog entry was made until today Dec 16. I also became a bit "gun shy" participating in discussions re Goodman, Silberkleit, partnerships, Hugo Gernsback connection, etc after your co-'writer' Blake Bell's uncalled-for near-vitriolic drive-by shooting in that foot note placed in Secret Origins of Marvel Comics

    At the time Katy was in ICU (again), I mentioned this at the time, but Blake kept pushing for what ever reason then drove him. He was evidently after some form of F*cked Up "got-cha" moment which is apparent in that footnote I think he wrote, you did not, and there it sits.

    When I was interviewing Sam Moskowitz in the mid late 1990s thru the kind auspices of Julius Schwartz, who, being an earlier member of SF fandom, had some resultant form of seniority which caused Sam to put up with and answer most all my (to me 20 years ago) detailed questions.

    Sam had little use for, nor respect for, the comic book world. He and I also discussed that concept.

    He was dying of throat cancer (IIRC) by then using a talking machine up to his throat. Out came semi-vibrations as voice.

    Sam remembered Hugo talking about Silberkleit as well as Goodman working in and around the Experimenter Publishing distribution. Via inside Eastern Distribution or directly for, Sam Said 1927 begins for both. The actual official designation left for the stars to figure out.

    End date for both a bit nebulous. I say that now as a partial puzzle to hopefully solve because I have some mid 1930s Kable News distributor trade journals from before either's comic book gigs which has Martin Goodman articles, his pulp publishing titles. And also listed in the magazine listings are all of Gernsback's publications then also coming out.

    So as late as 1935/36 Goodman on some (unknown) level still had some form of contact with Gernsback is what this tells me.

    Regarding the beginnings of Independent News, during portions of several of the taped interviews I conducted with Irwin Donenfeld 1997-2001, we discussed Paul Sampliner's "mother's money".

    Frank Costello & family lived right next door to Harry Donenfeld & family. The back yards fenced in had a connecting gate which opened either side for easy access. Irwin told me Costello was his childhood "godfather."

    The money to start up Independent News was fueled by bootleg cash being laundered via publishing and distribution

    Mike, when you are talking about Donenfeld pushing Wheeler-Nicholson out of National Allied, Irwin showed me the metal corporate seal which back then was used to emboss all legal corporate documents.

    The date of Detective Comics Inc's incorporation read Dec 12 1936

    At the time that caused me a bit of "huh?" because 20 years ago it was not clear to us comics researcher crazies the legal affiliation was that early

    During All American Convention in Portland 1976, the Old Weird Harold's book store owners talked Alex Schomburg to come to their show. His very first comicon. Also as guests were Harvey Kurtzman and Sergio Aragones.

    No one, or very few of us there, it seems, knew who Alex was. That enabled me and one other guy to have Alex all to ourselves. I asked him about Goodman, doing all those covers for Timely, etc

    Alex clearly replied he met Goodman at Hugo Gernsback's place of business. Alex had been doing detailed technical illustrations, blue prints, etc for Gernsback beginning in 1935. That is where Goodman met Schomburg. Also, Frank R Paul

    Now, looking at all this in retro-hindsight now over 90 years afterwards, Alex Schomburg would have had zero reason to meet up / see either those two Gernsback artists. He said he met Goodman inside Gernsback's offices.

    One can make of that as one wishes.

  2. This is an incredible piece of scholarship-- thank you so much for sharing it. I really appreciate this sort of in depth research and the amount of time you spent putting it together. All I can say is bravo!

  3. I'm grateful for this article and the research behind it.

  4. When the Goodman family moved from Russia to the USA, Russia was using a different calendar- the Julian, not moving to the Gregorian Calendar until the first revolution. While that doesnt explain 8 months difference, as it was a 13 days change, it would help explain some disconnect in remembering the exact days one was born.

  5. Love, love love this blog and your book Secret History of Marvel Comics. Maybe we can link to each other's blogs ... mine's at https://marvelsilverage.blogspot.com/