March 1, 2003
Profile: Archie Comics
Coyne, Louis Silberkleit and John Goldwater formed MLJ Magazines and started
publishing in November 1939. The company name was derived from the initials of
the partners' first names.
Coyne (September 15, 1901 – May 1971). Maurice
Coyne had worked with Louis Silberkleit in several publishing ventures starting
with employment from Hugo Gernsback. Maurice Coyne and Louis Silberkleit were
partners in Columbia Publishing. Maurice
Coyne also served as MLJ’s bookkeeper and Chief Financial Officer.
Horace Silberkleit (November 17, 1900 - February 21, 1986). Louis Silberkleit had a
college degree from St. John’s University, was a licensed registered
pharmacist, he also had a law degree from New York Law School.
Louis Silberkleit was regarded as having an uncanny knack as a circulator
and was known for setting very tight distributions and being an extremely tough
negotiator with printers, distributors and separators. Louis Silberkleit worked
for the pulp chain in the late 1920’s. In the early 1930’s Louis Silberkleit,
Martin Goodman, and Maurice Coyne started Columbia Publications. Martin Goodman
soon left that company and it was owned solely by Louis Silberkleit and Maurice
Coyne. Columbia was one of the last pulp companies, putting out its last pulp in
the late 50’s (only Pines' Ranch Romance ran longer).
Silberkleit served as co-publisher of MLJ with Goldwater. Silberkleit
efforts were focused on the business, printing, separating, distribution and the
financial end of the company.
L. Goldwater (February 14, 1906 - February 26, 1999). John Goldwater grew up as
an orphan in Harlem, New York, as a teen-ager he traveled the country working
odd jobs. Eventually returning to New York, he began working loading magazines
at the docks, before starting at Independent News. Goldwater served as editor in
chief and co-publishers for MLJ. Goldwater was focused primarily on the
editorial end of the business. Goldwater was one of the founders of the Comics
Magazine Association of America, and served as its president for 25 years.
The Comics Magazine Association of America is best know to comic fans for
its Comics Code Authority. He was also a national commissioner of the
All of them, Maurice Coyne, Louis Silberkleit and John Goldwater, had met when
they worked at Independent News, for Paul Sampliner. Paul Sampliner, Jack
Liebowitz and Harry Donnenfeld, of DC comics founded Independent News, which was
in turn the distribution company of DC comics.
Louis Silberkleit worked on some publishing ventures with his friend
Martin Goodman who was a founder of Timely/Marvel Comics.
Goodman and Louis Silberkleit, along with Maurice Coyne, were one of the
earliest publishers of pulp magazines, with their company, Columbia
Publications. Columbia published westerns, science fiction, detective, and
romance, pulp magazines. Many of
their writers who went on to become famous got their start working for Louis
Silberkleit at Columbia Publications. Among
these were Harold Robbins, Isaac Asimov, and Harry Sinclair Drago, to name a
Goldwater started his own company; Periodicals for Export, Inc., and he started
buying unsold periodicals, mainly pulp magazines, from publisher Louis
Silberkleit and exporting them for sale abroad. Observing the success of the
Superman character in the infant comic book industry in 1939, John Goldwater joined
Louis Silberkleit and Maurice Coyne in launching a magazine publishing company.
first comic was Blue Ribbon Comics published November 1939; the first issue was
half color with the remaining pages red and white tints. In December 1941 Top
Notch Comics was introduced. Then in January 1940, Pep Comics debuted featuring
the Shield, Americas first patriotic comic book hero, by writer Harry Shorten,
also the companies Managing Editor, and artist Irv Novick. The Shield was the
cover feature for Pep Comics until, March 1944 when Archie became the dominant
feature; the Shield continued in Pep Comics until January 1948. Also of note is
the fact that the Shield predates Joe Simon and Jack Kirby's Captain America by
15 months, and his sidekick Dusty, from Pep
Comics #11, January 1941, predates Bucky by 3 months.
John Goldwater inspired by the popular "Andy Hardy" movies starring
Mickey Rooney; wanted to create a comic about a normal person to whom readers
could relate. He created "America's newest boyfriend", Archibald
"Chick" Andrews. In Pep Comics #22, December 1941 writer Vic Bloom and
artist Bob Montana, published Archie Andrews first adventure. Gloria Goldwater,
John’s wife said "He loved Superman and he wanted to create a kind of
opposite to Superman," "Archie was based partly on a red-headed
friend of his named Archie," Mrs. Goldwater said. "He also created
Betty and Veronica. Then he decided Archie needed a real good friend. That was
Jughead. It just grew and grew."
Goldwater created the idea of Archie. However, John Goldwater was not an artist,
so he went to the bullpen and asked the various artists to come up with a
likeness. At age 21, Robert William Montana (Bob Montana) created the likeness
of Archie and continued to draw Archie for 34 years, until his death on January
Archie’s popularity grew MLJ Magazines changed its name to Archie Comics
Publications. In the mid fifties the advent of television caused a the pulp
magazine industry to suffer as television became a dominate form of
entertainment. With slumping sales Louis Silberkleit and Maurice Coyne decided
to discontinue Columbia Publications. Maurice Coyne stayed on at Archie as Chief
Financial Officer until he retired in the 1970’s.
Louis Silberkleit and John Goldwater shared the same office, and ate
lunch together for their entire business career.
the early 1970’s, Archie Enterprises Inc. went public and just over ten years
later Louis Silberkleit’s son Michael and John Goldwater’s son Richard took
Archie Comic Publications private. The company is solely owned by Michael
Silberkleit, Chairman and Co-Publisher and Richard Goldwater, President and
L. Goldwater served as Honorary Chairman, a post he held until he died of a
heart attack at his home in Manhattan, February 26, 1999.
over 60 years since the founding of MLJ Magazines, Archie Comics Publications is
a family business publishing wholesome family entertainment. Archi