Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Its first title was The Funnies which was the first comic book to feature original material, but since it was publish in the tabloid format as opposed to the standard one, it is normally not recognized as such.
The company began its greatest success in 1938 when they formed a partnership with Western Printing and Lithograph Company in which Dell would arrange financing for the publications while Western manage production and distribution. While this diverged from the regular practice in the medium of one company handling finance and production and outsourcing distribution, it was a highly successful enterprise with titles selling in the millions.
It was best known for its licensed material with the rights handled by Western, especially the animated characters from Walt Disney Productions, Warner Brothers and Walter Lantz Studio. Carl Barks was the most noted talent associated with the company.
From 1939 to 1962, Dell's most notable and prolific title was the anthology Four Color. Published several times a month, the title (which primarily featured standalone issues featuring various licensed properties) saw more than 1,300 issues published in its 23-year history.
The end of Four Color in 1962 coincided with the end of the partnership with Western, which took most of its licensed properties and created its own company, Gold Key Comics.
Without the licensed properties, Dell was dealt a deathblow to their business although the company lingered for another 11 years with lesser licensed properties (most notably Mission: Impossible) and a few poorly received original titles. They tried to do several superhero titles, such as Nukla, Fab 4 , Brain Boy, and a trio based on the Universal Pictures monsters: Frankenstein, Dracula and Werewolf.
The company finally went out of business in 1973, unable to cope with the changing realities of the marketplace.
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