Whitman Publishing: Wikis


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Western Publishing
Former type Private
Founded 1910
Founder(s) Edward Henry Wadewitz
Albert H. Wadewitz
Defunct 1997
Headquarters Racine, Wisconsin, United States
Number of locations New York City
Los Angeles,
Poughkeepsie, New York
Industry Publishing
Divisions Golden Books Family Entertainment (Little Golden Books)
Subsidiaries Whitman Publishing Company
Gold Key Comics
K.K. Publications

Western Publishing, also known as "Western Printing and Lithographing Co." was a publishing firm based in Racine, Wisconsin, that was responsible for publishing the Little Golden Books.



The company was initiated by brothers Edward Henry and Albert H. Wadewitz. It bought West Side Printing Company from a printer during September 1907 for $2,504 and changed its name during 1910. The company was based in Racine, Wisconsin, with editorial offices in both New York City and Los Angeles, California, and another printing plant in Poughkeepsie, New York (which closed about 1980). During 1915, the company bought Chicago publisher Hammerung-Whitman Publishing Co., which became their subsidiary Whitman Publishing Company. Another subsidiary was K.K. Publications, named after Kay Kamen, manager of character merchandising at Walt Disney Studios from 1933-1949.[1] K.K. Publications appears to have become defunct during the mid/late 1960s.

Western Publishing also produced children's books and family related entertainment products as Golden Books Family Entertainment.[2]



Comic books

Western had licenses for the characters from Walt Disney Productions, Warner Brothers, Metro Goldwyn Mayer, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Walter Lantz Studio, and produced comics based on these characters (and others) as well as original works. The editorial staff at the West Coast office over the years included Eleanor Packer, Alice Cobb, Chase Craig, Zetta Devoe, Del Connell and Bill Spicer; Bernie Zuber was an editorial artist, a position similar to that of a production artist, there from 1957 until 1982.[3] Oskar Lebeck, Matt Murphy and Wally Green are among those who oversaw the East Coast office.

From 1938 to 1962, Western's comics were published with the Dell Comics imprint; Dell also handled the distribution and financing of the comics. During 1962, Western decided to end its partnership with Dell and publish comics themselves, and established Gold Key Comics. This continued until the late 1970s, after which newsstand distribution was discontinued in favor of distribution to toy stores etc. under the "Whitman Comics" banner. They stopped publishing comics during 1984, and all their licenses have since gone to other publishers. Some of their comics were published by that name, especially March of Comics. Dark Horse Comics has recently been doing some reprints of their original comic book properties, which are owned by Random House.

Children's books

Western published a wide range of children books (puzzle books, coloring books, Big Little Books, etc), mostly under the Golden Books and Whitman Publishing brand names since the 1920/30s. The Little Golden Books was a very popular series. Lucille Ogle helped develop the format for the low-priced books, which told simple stories and were among the first children's books with full-color illustrations. The first was published during 1942.[4] Beginning as the "Whitman Famous Classics," and later renamed the "Golden Press" imprint, Western published a series of (public domain) classics, such as Little Women, Little Men, Black Beauty, and Heidi, among many others.

Older juvenile literature

Initially under its Whitman line, Western from the 1940s to the 1980s published several series of books for older children and young teenagers. Girls' mystery series included Trixie Belden, Ginny Gordon, Donna Parker, and Trudy Phillips. Boys' series included the Walton Boys, Power Boys, and Troy Nesbit mysteries. The series from the 1950s to the 1970s also included a number of titles licensed from popular movies and television shows: Lassie, The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, many television Westerns, and Walt Disney's Spin and Marty and Annette, (from the serial featuring Annette Funicello that aired on The Mickey Mouse Club) among many other titles. They also were the original American publisher of Tintin, issuing 6 titles in English translation during 1959-1960 before discontinuing further releases due to what they believed were disappointing sales.[5]


During 1937 Western assumed production of the newsstand version of Mickey Mouse Magazine,[6] which during 1940 was succeeded by the comic book Walt Disney's Comics and Stories. Then during late 1955 Western initiated Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Club Magazine with content produced by Disney Studio staff members. It was intended to promote The Mickey Mouse Club television series. Eventually the name was changed to Walt Disney's Magazine and shifted focus to contemporary Disney movie and television productions. During the 1960s Western published The Golden Magazine for Boys and Girls with Cracky the Parrot as its mascot.


Golden Press for many years was publisher of various Betty Crocker cookbooks, reputed to have sold in the millions. Often these were issued in a spiral binder format so recipe pages could be removed for easy consultation while cooking.

Corporate annual reports

A very lucrative division which realized Western's expertise in specialized, technically unique publishing formats.

Automobile service manuals

Western printed automobile service manuals for Volvo until at least 1989.

Children's science books

The Golden Book of Chemistry Experiments.


The popular series of nature guides, Golden Guide, were published with the Golden Press name. This series has since been revived by St. Martin's Press. They published a series of guidebooks for coin collectors with the Whitman name, which has been sold to H.E. Harris.

Retail locations

Disneyland Story Book Shop

The company sponsored, (along with partners Dell and Simon & Schuster), the Story Book Shop on Main Street, U.S.A. in Disneyland which opened on July 17, 1955. It closed mobile April 1995.[7] In addition it was one of the initial investors in the park via being a part-owner of Disneyland, Inc.. This was done in appreciation of its long and lucrative business relationship with Walt Disney.

Golden Books Showcase Stores

During the 1990s, at least three Golden Books Showcase Store locations were opened, which featured only Western Publishing products. The first was opened in the Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, Illinois in November 1992; the second in CityWalk Center outside Universal Studios Hollywood during June 1993; and the third store was opened in Rockefeller Center in New York City during April 1994. They have all since closed. In the early 90's they opened a few Books-R-Us stores inside Toys-R-Us. They were located in the Northeastern United States, New Jersey, New York and Boston. They sold children's books. Not just their publications but every publication of children books. Anything from Dr Seuss to Barney.


Mattel bought Western during 1982, then sold it during 1984. With new ownership, it renamed itself Golden Books Family Entertainment and tried to emphasize children's books. It sold the adult books (Golden Guide) to St. Martin's Press during 1999, and later the H.E. Harris coin company would buy Whitman Coin Products from St. Martin’s Press during 2003 and rename it Whitman Publishing. By 1997, Western Publishing was absorbed into the name Golden Books Publishing Company.

Golden Books Family Entertainment was acquired by Classic Media Inc. and Random House in a bankruptcy court auction for $84.4 million on August 16, 2001. Historian Michael Barrier has lamented the seeming loss of Western's business records for the use of future researchers. [8]

Slogans and taglines

  • I grew up with Golden Books! (1980s)
  • Silence isn't Golden. Reading to your child is. (1997)

See also



External links


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