TESTIMONY OF ALEX SEGAL, PRESIDENT, STRAVON
PUBLICATIONS, NEW YORK, N. Y.
The CHAIRMAN. Will you state your full name, address, and association, for the record?
Mr. SEGAL. Alex Segal, 113 West 67th Street, New York City, partner, Stravon Publications.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Segal, you will have to speak up because the acoustics are not all that it should be in a courtroom of this character.
Mr. SEGAL. Well, I don't publish comic books, so I have no prepared statement. But we are in the process of publishing a book on juvenile delinquency by a person that I consider probably one of the most outstanding authorities on juvenile delinquency, since he lived 5 years with boys' gangs here in New York and wrote a book which the Reader's Digest digested. He lived with them and they accepted him, although he is the son of a distinguished university professor.
Mr. BEASER. The reason you were asked to come here today was not because you published comic books, but because you are a publisher and you do advertise in comic books.
Mr. SEGAL. Yes.
Mr. BEASER. What kind or material do you publish and under what names?
Mr. SEGAL. Only one name, Stravon.
Here is a children’s book we publish. We do advertise it in the comics. It is Birdman. It is the story of Leonardo da Vinci.
In view of the discussion that went on regarding comics, it is interesting to note some of the remarks made that the children do not buy the better grade comics, because here is an example of a very high-grade children's book on Da Vinci, in beautiful color, which we have advertised in the comics, and they have not responded to it in the manner you think. No this is just one.
Mr. BEASER. What are the other publications?
Mr. SEGAL. I will show you all of them.
Here is a book called Mike and the Giant, the story of Michelangelo.
Mr. BEASER. Children's and adults' books?
Mr. SEGAL. No, these are children's books.
Senator HENNINGS. Mr. Segal, I notice in the first book you had that there are a number of reproductions is of Leonardo's works.
Mr. SEGAL. Yes.
Senator HENNINGS. Now what does that book sell for?
Mr. SEGAL. This book sells for a dollar. We advertise it. We selected the name of "The Birdman" because Leonardo was known as a birdman at the time and this is a drawing, a drawing of his flying machine. That is after his own sketch. We deliberately selected it, hoping that the children who buy "The Batman" and buy the others would buy this. They do buy it in quantities of a few thousand a year, not 20 million a year.
Senator HENNINGS. You suggested in the advertising I presume that was educational?
Mr. SEGAL. Yes, we did. We said they would enjoy it.
Now we have different kinds of ads on this book. I will got through all of the titles. Here is a title Mike and the Giant, the story of Michelangelo. Here is the story of the man who painted the sun, which is a children's story of Vincent van Gogh.
Here is a book, The Magic painter, the story of Rembrandt. These are all for children between the ages of 8 and 14.
If I may, I should like to divert, before continuing show all the other books. Here is an issue of the Library Journal. This is out just now, 2 days ago. You will notice an advertisement of Dr. Wertham's book, and I take no exception to the book as I did not read it, but in view of many things said here, it is interesting how the publisher or somebody, selected that title, “The Seduction of the Innocent.” Half the people will buy this book not because they think it is an expose of comics. I don’t know what they will buy it for.
Senator HENNINGS. You do not, Mr Segal?
Mr. SEGAL. Mind you I am not taking sides in this issue; really, I am not.
By the way, in the same issue is an ad which was placed 2 months ago. There was an ad, here for these four books, which is addressed to libraries. There it is right here.
On these four books, may I have permission to quote from the Washington Post:
Imagination and humor have been graphically employed. The books have high style, striking use of color and unconventional layout, and enhance the texts written in lively conversational fashion.
The Library Journal:
Ethic biography planned to entertain with clever design, thrilling narrative, and colorful sketches.
Mr. BEASER. For adults you also publish things called Mademoiselle Fifi?
Mr. SEGAL. Yes.
Mr. BEASER. In other words, you have the Sexcapades, the Home Life of Homo Sapiens, in addition to, How To Hypnotize, which you advertise in comics like this; is that correct?
Mr. SEGAL. That is correct. Here is the book. I would like to hold up the book so you can see what the book is like. This is a book on hypnotism by a practicing hypnotist who unfortunately last year died. Anyone who applies himself, and this is stage hypnotism; anybody who applies himself to this book will master the technique of hypnotism in a short time. Many have used this book to get into the entertainment field.
We even have testimonials from people who use it. Hypnotism has been used in various auditoriums, hospitals, to entertain.
I am not discussing the therapeutic value, because we have a book on four professionals on hypnotism, too.
Mr. BEASER. You also sell the advertise gadgets like airplanes for kids?
Mr. SEGAL. Yes.
Mr. BEASER. You do advertise in comics and you get a response, I presume?
Mr. SEGAL. Yes.
Mr. BEASER. You send out also some mail orders, some direct solicitations by mail?
Mr. SEGAL. Yes.
Mr. BEASER. Is this an example of the kind of advertising literature which you would be sending out. I am referring to a six-page pamphlet.
Mr. SEGAL. May I make a correction?
Mr. BEASER. Yes.
Mr. SEGAL. There is a front page missing. The front and back pages are missing there, which list the title of all the books on there, and on the book there is an order form on the back of it. In other words, there are two pages missing. Apparently, you do not have the complete folder there. The first page lists all the books that are in that catalog. On the second page is an advertisement for this particular book, which, by the way, is considered the finest book on cartooning, I think, in America today. I would like you to see the type of book this is.
Mr. BEASER. But this six-page pamphlet you have lists all the books you have for children?
Mr. SEGAL. No, it does not.
Mr. BEASER. The one that is complete would list books for children and books for adults?
Mr. SEGAL. That is right.
Mr. BEASER. It has your books for children and juveniles in it?
Mr. SEGAL. Yes.
Mr. BEASER. I would like to introduce that.
Senator HENNINGS. That will become part of the record at this point. Let it be exhibit No. 24.
(The document-referred to was marked, Exhibit No. 24, and is on file with the subcommittee.)
Mr. SEGAL. That does not go to children. It goes to adults.
Mr. BEASER. When you get your response to advertisements since as this, and your Birdman and comic books, do you utilize the names you receive that way for direct mail advertising your total books?
Mr. SEGAL. As of some time last year ─ that is perhaps early last year, we discontinued the renting of names to anybody on our books, regardless on what subject it is, and we have no longer rented those books for any type of publications.
Mr. BEASER. Those names.
Mr. SEGAL. Those names, for any type of publication or product that is at all objectionable.
Mr. BEASER. Theretofore, you did rent them?
Mr. SEGAL. Heretofore we were not as discerning, or not as alert to check the type of mailing of books on this list. But as of March of 1953, I think, we discontinued as such. If we do rent a name, it may be for subscription to Life or Time. There are not many rentals of that kind. We ourselves do not mail to our own juveniles the names of any products; we do not mail to them.
Mr. BEASER. Theretofore, you rented to persons who, you say, sent out objectionable material?
Mr. SEGAL. I didn't say that. I say in the province of this committee, it might be considered controversial in the sense that is this good stuff, or is it bad stuff? I don't say we did, but I say we discontinued any rental. We ourselves never did.
Mr. BEASER. What kind of material was it?
Mr. SEGAL. I don't know. It may have been a book ─ a sex book for another company who rented our list. This is about the only type of publication.
Mr. BEASER. That list would been secured through a comic book; is that it?
Mr. SEGAL. That is right. Our comic books we did not rent. I am talking about the general list, These names are on stencils. There are metal stencils which are held in a letter shop. We rented some names to a company, I think it was on a book, and accidentally the letter shop ─ these are in trays, there are 400 names in a tray ─ accidentally one of the letter shops employees picked a tray of 400 children and they must have gotten some kind ─ I don't recall have been a sex book, an honest to goodness ─ nothing objectionable per se in the book itself. They may have gotten it, and we got some inquiries about it, and we decided we would no longer rent these names to anybody, mistake or no mistake. The revenue is very small. The total annual revenue may come to $2,000 or $3,000. It is insignificant revenue.
Mr. BEASER. Whom have you rented it to the last year?
Mr. SEGAL. As I told you, I don’t think I rented it to anybody. If we did rent it ─ I don’t want to be held, because I didn’t anticipate this type of questioning ─ but I don’t think we rented it to anybody. We may have. If we did, it was someone without question of material.
Senator HENNINGS. How is that list compiled?
Mr. SEGAL. If you notice on the coupon, they send the coupon in, and that is the list. There are four pages missing in that folder; the front page which says a complete list of books, and on the second page is an ad for this book. On the next to the last page is another list, which is a coupon list. On the pack is an address, and I think there is an advertising message. The second page is an ad for this book. The front page only lists the book, no advertising. On the back page is an advertising message and a report of the address. Apparently, you did not get the full booklet there. I can send one.
The CHAIRMAN. If you had rented it, there would have been nothing illegal about that; would there?
Mr. SEGAL. No, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. This material was all yours?
Mr. SEGAL. Yes; it is all our material. But, if a child accidentally gets a circular for a book describing a sex book or manual, and the parents see it, the parents become annoyed and complain about it.
Mr. BEASER.. Have you received any complaints?
Mr. SEGAL. We have received no complaints in the last year. We didn't get the complaint directly. The publisher, or whoever it was, got the complaint and forwarded the names to us, "Please remove these names from your list, because we got a complaint about the receipt of this circular."
Mr. BEASER. It was your own circular?
Mr. SEGAL. No. When the person on the list received the circular, and the parent complained ─ there were only a handful ─ they complained to the advertiser who bought the list. So, the advertiser, in turn, said "these people do not want to receive literature of any kind, and they have instructed us to remove the name from the list." So we removed it, and since it gave us this nuisance, we said, "no more; we are discontinuing this," and we have no longer rented these
names to anybody.
Mr. BEASER. Your coupon, here, does not indicate that the person who is buying the book must state the name; does it? The name need not be stated on the coupon? There is no room for the person buying one of your books such as "The Art of Love."
Mr. SEGAL. What name? His name?
Mr. BEASER. He does not have to state his age.
Mr. SEGAL. I think in this one it may not be. I am not sure. But we don’t send that to adults. I think, at one time, on one book ─ a drawing instruction book ─ we used to carry on it, "Not sent to anyone over 21."
We hardly ever advertise this book any more.
Mr. BEASER. Not sent to anyone over 21?
Mr. SEGAL. No; under 21; I am sorry.
Mr, BEASER. You do not use your mailing lists compiled from comic book advertisements for sending this out?
Mr. SEGAL. No.
Mr. BEASER. Then how do you account for the number of complaints to the Post Office Department from irate parents that their children, 15 years, 10 years, 9 years of age, have received your circular advertising your books?
Mr. SEGAL. Which circular?
Mr. BEASER. A circular from you, advertising "The Art of Love," for example.
Mr. SEGAL. We don't send these to children.
Mr. BEASER. How did the child's name get on the mailing list?
Mr. SEGAL. The child's name originally gets on a mailing list when they fill out the coupon, but we don't mail circulars to those children. They become inactive. We neither sell it or rent it, nor use it ourselves.
Now it is possible, as I said, that occasionally a tray, like a year ago, will get mixed up; but we are not mailing to children at all of any kind even though we have the best children's books in the field. I say that, barring none, there is nothing that has ever been published of nature for children ─ even the titles here were selected with a view to getting the child interested in this type of subject. We were going to put out a whole list of these, by the way, but in view of the fact that the response has not been as great as we thought, we stopped at these four titles.
Mr. BEASER. I have no further questions, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HANNOCH. As to this one book that I have here, "The Art of Love," the cover refers to some article, "What Every Boy and Girl Should Know."
Mr. SEGAL. That is not our book, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. It is published in London.
Mr. BEASER. It is advertised by you, though, is it not?
Mr. SEGAL. We don't have that. We don't advertise it for children. The majority of the places that book is advertised is in adult books, like women's romance books and male adult books.
By the way, that particular book, but not that particular issue, was given out as a premium about a year ago by a large soap company. It was given out as a premium with a certain purchase. Apparently it was not considered objectionable enough, because nine-tenths or eight-tenths of that book is Greek mythology, and certainly no juvenile delinquent could ever conceivably delve through that Greek mythology, to come to the 10 or 15 percent love counsel, that is given in that book.
By the way, talking of comics, Mr. Chambers has found in 5 years of work, that the gang boys do not read comics at all. He lived with them day to day and found they do not read the comics at all. There is a statement here which is so different from the usual conception, because very few people really know anything about juvenile delinquents. They know from reading other books. He lived with them for 5 years, and he says they never read the comics ─ the gang
boys. Actually at one time he had to engage ─ go in with them on some of their, let us say, semiquestionable activities in order to maintain their confidence, because he was making a study of juvenile delinquents.
Mr. HANNOCH. We were talking about your ad. How do you know, when you get an answer back on one of these coupons, whether it is a child or is not a child?
Mr. SEGAL. All answers received from comics are automatically considered children. First of all, that book on hypnotism ─
Mr. HANNOCH. I did not ask you about it. I asked you how you knew whether it was a child.
Mr. SEGAL. Any coupon coming from a comic is automatically considered a child, and we do not mail to it.
Mr. HANNOCH. It is put on a different list?
Mr. SEGAL. Yes.
The CHAIRMAN. Are there any further questions? If not, Mr. Segal, the Chair thanks you very much. You have been very helpful.
Mr. SEGAL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. BEASER. Mr. Samuel Roth.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you swear that the evidence you are about to give before this subcommittee will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
Mr. ROTH. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. You may be seated. Please state your full name, address, and association for the record.