David McKay Publications (also known as David McKay Company) was an American book publisher which also published some of the first comic books, including the long-running titles Ace Comics, King Comics, and Magic Comics; as well as collections of such popular comic strips as Blondie, Dick Tracy, and Mandrake the Magician. McKay was also the publisher of the Fodor's travel guides.
David McKay was born in Dysart, Scotland, on June 24, 1860. At the age of 11, he came to the United States with his parents. At the age of 13, he began working for J. B. Lippincott & Co., learning the bookselling trade. By the age of 21, he was placed in charge of the miscellaneous catalog of books by publisher Rees Welsh. One year later, upon hearing McKay had been offered a position with a rival publisher, Welsh asked McKay to take the helm, offering to sell the entire publishing firm to him. In September 1882, with $500 of his own money and $2,500 in borrowed money and notes, McKay began his own publishing company on South 9th Street in Philadelphia.
At age 25, McKay published the first collected set of Shakespeare’s works in the United States. By December 1905, McKay had absorbed many rival publishing houses into his own, and was publishing books in almost every popular genre of the time, including world literature, textbooks, and a number of children’s books.
In 1935, the company recognized the potential of the comic book medium and began selling collections of such popular strips as Henry and Popeye. In 1936 they began publishing collections of King Features Syndicate strips in King Comics, and in 1937 followed with the Ace Comics title. Ace Comics #11, the first appearance of The Phantom, is regarded by many to be a key issue in the history of comics, as it introduced one of the first of the costumed heroes, leading to the Golden Age of superheroes in comics.
McKay’s son Alexander would follow in his father’s shoes by taking over the house to go on to publish Walt Disney’s first Mickey Mouse comics, the Blondie and Dagwood comic series, and numerous other notable works. David McKay Publications essentially ceased publishing comics in 1950.
Acquisitions and demise
Random House purchased David McKay Publications in 1986.
- Ace Comics (1937–1950)
- American Library (1943-1944)
- Barney Baxter (1938)
- Blondie (1942)
- Blondie Comics (Spring 1947-December 1949/January 1950)
- Blondie: 100 Selected Top-Laughs of America's Best Loved Comic (1944)
- Dick Tracy (1937)
- Feature Book (May 1937-1948)
- Future Comics (1940)
- Henry (1935)
- The Katzenjammer Kids (Summer 1947-circa 1949)
- King Comics (April 1936-November/December 1949)
- Little Annie Rooney (1935)
- Little Orphan Annie and the Kidnappers (1941, giveaway)
- Little Orphan Annie Popped Wheat Giveaway (1947)
- Magic Comics (1939–1950)
- Popeye (1935)
- The Romance of Flying (circa late 1942)
- They'll Do It Every Time (by Jimmy Hatlo, 1939)
- Conquest of Peru - Prescot