- United States
- In 1907, Edward Henry (E.H) and Al Wadewitz bought West Side Printing Co. of Racine, Wisc. They incorporated the new company in 1910 as Western Printing & Lithographic Co. In 1916, they acquired the assets of the failed publisher Hamming-Whitman Publishing Co., which they made a subsidiary of Western under the name Whitman Publishing Co.
Under the Whitman publishing wing, Western produced Big Little Books beginning in 1932 and Little Golden Books beginning in 1938. Over these years Western began to acquire the licenses to produce publications featuring the stars of the Disney, Warner Bros., M-G-M, and Walter Lantz studios.
Also in 1938, Western entered into an agreement with Dell Publishing Co. to produce a line of standard newsstand comic books. Under their arrangement, Dell generally provided the financing and distribution, while Western produced the contents and printed the comics. Many of these comics featured the characters licensed by Western. Some of these licensed comics, however, were published by K. K. Publications, Inc. When licensing agent Kay Kamen sold Western a licensing deal with Disney, he arranged a special partnership agreement that resulted in the formation of this publisher. These comics were produced and printed by Western and distributed by Dell, but technically published by K. K. Publications. Since all of these comics are commonly referred to as Dell comics due to the Dell logo on the covers, all of these comics can be found in this database under the Dell master publisher. This arrangement between Western and Dell lasted until 1962.
During this period, Western also produced without Dell other products not distributed through newsstands, but rather through the book market or as giveaways distributed through retail outlets. These items can be found under this master publisher.
In 1958 Western entered into a joint publishing effort with Pocket Books under the name Golden Press, Inc. Just a few years later, Western bought out Pocket Books' interest and made Golden Press one of their primary divisions. Many of Western's comic products were packaged for the book market under this Golden Press division.
After ending their arrangement with Dell in 1962, Western began their own line of newsstand comics, again utilizing their many licences, under the brand Gold Key. In 1971, Western began distributing versions of their newsstand comics exclusively for the book market under the brand Whitman. Western discontinued their Gold Key line in 1980, but continued their Whitman line into 1984.
Behind the scenes in those later years, Western was sold to Mattel in 1979, and then sold again at the end of 1983 to a private investor. Over the next several years the various assets of Western were reorganized or re-sold several times before a final bankruptcy auction in 2001.