TESTIMONY OF MRS. HELEN MEYER, VICE PRESIDENT, DELL PUBLICATIONS,
ACCOMPANIED BY MATTHEW MURPHY, EDITOR, DELL PUBLICATIONS,
NEW YORK, N. Y.
Mrs. MEYER. Mrs. Helen Meyer, 231 Montrose Avenue, South Orange, N. J. I am vice president of the Dell Publishing Co.
Mr. MURPHY. My name is Matthew Murphy, of 294 Bronxville Road, Bronxville, N.Y. I am employed by Western Printing & Lithographic Co., as Dell comics editor.
The CHAIRMAN. You may proceed.
Mrs. MEYER. Although we are not here to defend crime and horror comics, the picture is not as black as Dr. Wertham painted it. We must give our American children proper credit for their good taste in their support of good comics. What better evidence can we give than facts and figures. Here they are:
Dell's average comic sale is 800,000 copies per issue. Most crime and horror comic sales are under 250,000 copies.
Of the first 25 largest selling magazines on newsstands - this includes Ladies Home Journal, Saturday Evening Post, Life, and so forth ─ 11 titles are Dell comics, with Walt Disney's Donald Duck the leading newsstand seller. Some of these titles are: "Walt Disney's Comics"; "Warner Bros. Bugs Bunny"; "Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse"; "Warner Bros. Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies, Porky Pigs"; "Walter Lantz Woody Woodpecker"; "Margie's Little Lulu"; "Mom's Tom and Jerry."
The newsstand sales range from 950,000 to 1,996,570 on each of the above mentioned titles. I mean newsstands only and I am not including any subscriptions, and we have hundreds of thousands of subscriptions.
With the least amount of titles, or 15 percent of all titles published by the entire industry; Dell can account for a sale of approximately 32 percent, and we don't publish a crime or horror comic.
Dr. Wertham, for some strange reason, is intent on condemning the entire industry. He refuses to acknowledge that other types of comics are not only published, but are better supported by children than crime and horror comics. I hope that his motivation is not a selfish one in his crusade against comics. Yet, in the extensive research he tells us he has made on comics, why does he ignore the good comics? Dell isn't alone in publishing good comics. There are numerous outstanding titles published by other publishers, such as Blondie, Archie, Dennis the Menace, and so forth. Why does he feel that he must condemn the entire industry? Could it be that he feels he has a better case against comics by recognizing the bad and ignoring the good?
Dr. Wertham, I am sure, has a fine reputation as a psychiatrist, but shouldn't the committee hear from other psychiatrists of equal stature? Of all the illustrations presented by Dr. Wertham yesterday, taken from crime and horror comics, needless to say, Dell was nonexistent, but I do take offense to his reading into the record an isolated story that the claims appeared in Tarzan comics. I should like more specific information on this particular story, and when this issue was published. Dr. Wertham has a great habit of using material from comic magazines that were published several years ago, and no longer being published, to help his case against the comics.
Dr. Wertham must have done some extensive examining of the 90 titles published by the Dell Publishing Co., as he went out of his way to point up the one story he didn't like in an isolated issue of Tarzan comics, probably published several years ago. Wasn't it unfair and destructive, rather than constructive, to read his condemnation of Dell Publishing Co.'s comics into the record? Shouldn't the good be given proper recognition, if for no other reason than to set the example?
With regard to Dell's refusal to belong to the Comic Book Association, Dell had no other alternative. When the association was first introduced, we, after thorough examination, saw that Dell would be used as an umbrella for the crime comic publishers. Dell; along with these publishers, would display the same seal. How could the newsdealer afford the time to examine the contents of each comic he handled? The parents and children too would suffer from misrepresentation. Dell didn't need a code set down by an association, with regard to its practices of good taste. We weren't interested in trying to go up to the marginal line in our comic-book operation, as we knew we were appealing, in the main, to children. We have no regrets. In addition to the good feeling we have created among our loyal following, we have profited financially. So you don't have to publish crime and horror comics for financial success. To the contrary, Dell's policy of publishing good comics has served as well.
Mr. Caniff and Mr. Kelly have told you how then syndicate editor as well as each newspaper editor are their censors. Dell has their censors too. World renowned citizens like Walt Disney, Walter Lantz, Mr. Fred Quimby, of MGM, Edward Seizer, of Warner Bros., Marge's creator of Little Lulu, and many, many others, wouldn't for any possible financial gains, allow us to publish their creations if we used their characters badly.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you for that statement, Mrs. Meyer.
Does counsel have any questions?
Mrs. MEYER. May we show you some of our comics?
The CHAIRMAN. Do you have some to leave for the files?
Mrs. MEYER. For one thing, we try to do something too, on the question of horror. We have taken two full-page colored ads in the Saturday Evening Post.
The CHAIRMAN. I am sure you are interested in eliminating horror comics, are you not?
Mrs. MEYER. We certainly are. And we would love to help you do it.
Here is an editorial by Dr. Polling.
Mr. BEASER. Will you please leave those with us?
Mrs. MEYER. Yes.
The CHAIRMAN. Mrs. Meyer is leaving this material for the files, as the Chair understands it. Let that be exhibit No. 25.
(The material was marked "Exhibit No. 25," and is on file with the subcommittee)
Mrs. MEYER. Would you like to see the dramatic story of the largest selling magazines in the world, as compared to any other publishers?
The CHAIRMAN. We will receive those for the record, Mrs. Meyer.
Mrs. MEYER. I refer to this list showing the newsstand sales of all the leading magazines.
Mr. MURPHY. May I say, sir, that our primary purpose in appearing before the committee is to show that by publishing good comics, we not only outsell all other publishers of comics of all kinds, but that we have parental acceptance, which is indicated by subscriptions which run over a million a year, which are a dollar apiece. That is, many dollars a year in subscriptions, and the Dell policy is to publish good comics. Dell comics are good comics.
As an editor I handle approximately a third of these comics. I can say that we publish what we believe to be good comics and not what we know may be doubtful comics.
Mrs. MEYER. If there is any question of doubt I do not want it.
Senator HENNINGS. I was just going to ask the question which your statement embraced. If I may ask you one other thing, do you feel that the competition, if such it be, from the horrors and the crime comics, to any great extent affects your business?
Mrs. MEYER. No. In fact, from time to time we run into periods where we have 100 men out on the road representing us, who would write us and tell us, this love comic is selling and this other one, and why don't we get into it. We just ignore the field.
Senator HENNINGS. You do not feel it is competition?
Mrs. MEYER. We don't.
Senator HENNINGS. It is a different field in a sense?
Mrs. MEYER. It certainly is, and I don't think it is profitable. All these people do is put them out and they have to take them back in again. I think all they do is earn a salary and help the paper man and the printer.
Mr. HANNOCH. What did you say your monthly sales were?
Mrs. MEYER. We print approximately 30 million comics a month. We sell over 25 million.
Mr. HANNOCH. These are the ones that sell for 10 cents?
Mrs. MEYER. For 10 cents, and we have some 25-cent ones, too.
Mr. HANNOCH. None of them have ads, do they?
Mrs. MEYER. We will only take ads in 10 monthly magazines. We will take only cover ads. We censor the ads. We take ads from General Foods and Mars. We are running an ad for Mars chocolates. They are all national advertising. We won't take anything but national advertising no mail-order advertising whatsoever.
Mr. MURPHY. Most of our books appear without any advertising at all. This 25-cent issue has no advertising in it.
The CHAIRMAN. Would you agree with the Chair that we ought to look for some new definition of comics and what field is covered by the word "comics"?
Mrs. MEYER. Yes, I do. In fact I felt that I should really be represented here. First, we didn't even want to be classed with the crime and horror comics. Yet when we more or less did get into it, I felt we should be here to tell you our story.
We abhor horror and crime comics. We would like to see them out of the picture because it taints us.
Mr. MURPHY. We would like to show, too, that although we publish a third of all the comics published, the horror and crime comics which Dr. Wertham yesterday said constituted a majority of the comics are really in a minority, and the percentage of them has to be very small because of the number that we publish alone, and we publish no war, no horror, no crime, no romance.
Mrs. MEYER. We sell 3½ million of Walt Disney's Peter Pan comics. That is a wonderful document, isn't it, against crime comics?
Mr. HANNOCH. Do you ever get complaints from grandfathers who get tired of reading these over and over again to their children?
Mrs. MEYER. We don't get any such complaints. I know when my children were young, I had to read my own comics to them, but of course it was wonderful then. Then I knew everything that was going on in each of our comics.
The CHAIRMAN. Mrs. Meyer, this subcommittee is grateful to you for your appearance here today. You have been very helpful.
Mrs. MEYER. Thank you.
The CHAIRMAN. Now in adjourning these New York hearings on crime and horror comics until further call of the chairman, I wish to state that the subject matter of these hearings will receive further careful study and consideration by the subcommittee.
Certain questions such as tie-in sales, for example, represents one of the several which we will have to resolve. Without attempting at this point to draw any conclusions, I wish to again reassure all interests concerned, that the subcommittee is aware that the evaluation of the total situation, in relation to the production of comics of this type, is a complex one and one which involves many, many facts.
I also wish to repeat that these hearings on horror and crime comics represents but one form of the mass media to which this subcommittee will give attention at a later date. We believe that the public has a right to the facts, the right to know, what the effect of this and other media, is upon children, to know who is setting the standards for the media, and how the industries operate in relation to the observance of any standards.
The subcommittee would also like also to thank the authorities here in New York who have made this room; and other facilities freely available to us. We also wish to express our appreciation for the interest shown and the cooperation given by the press, the radio and the television.
It has been great privilege for us to be here in this great city of New York, trying to solve not only of your problems but a problem which exists throughout the Nation. Thank you very much.
The committee stands in recess, subject to the call of the Chair.
(Whereupon, at 4:15 p.m., the committee was recessed, subject to call.)