Your Trip to Newspaperland … A Visit to the New Bulletin Building

In 1955, the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin opened a mammoth new plant. One of the ways they chose to celebrate the event was to commission a 12-page comic book in which kids learn how a major newspaper operates. Harvey Comics was given the job, and Ham Fisher’s Joe Palooka was chosen as the emcee. For a punch-drunk boxer, Joe does a pretty creditable job of explaining the workings of a newspaper.

6 comments on “Your Trip to Newspaperland … A Visit to the New Bulletin Building

  1. Hello Allan-Happy New Year to all. I thank you for running this piece, I miss the Evening Bulletin, lo these many years after it's demise. I don't know if my brother Cole gave you the images here, but the Bulletin was a great paper for a long time. Their building is still around, it's just a block away from the 30th street station, and also a large office structure once known as the "Food Fair" building. Both of which my father worked in fifty plus years ago. He'd buy the paper at the Bulletin on the way home, and we'd get it, if not "hot off the press", definately still warm off the press.
    The Bulletin lived from 1847 to 1982. It started running a Sunday edition when it absorbed the Philadelphia Record in 1947, and got the rights to their comics. It was the top paper in Philly for many years. Their motto was "In Philadelphia nearly everyone reads the Bulletin". They had a famous almanac from 1924 to about 1978, which I have several to this day.
    The booklet shown today is about the size of a Sunday tv supplement. It was given to those who took the Bulletin tour, which I did in October 1966. They had interesting displays of how the printing plates were used. (a plate of a May, 1963 edition was part of the permanent exhibit) and they showed the framed first issue, which nobody noticed but myself, was in fact not! But the highlight of the tour (I went with my school group) was seeing the presses in action. They were huge, probably three story high giants, with more noise than a squadron of Jet engines. They don't need presses like that now. They don't need newspapers much either. When the Bulletin folded, they spent months cutting and melting down those presses.
    If it helps date more prescisley when this was issued, The new building was dedicated and opened on 1 June 1955 with the mayor on hand. In the picture of the building on the first page, where it says "IN PHILADELPHIA NEARLY" is obviously the begining of their motto, but in real life that was a news ticker, which conked out by the mid seventies.

  2. I love the full-page in that comic book of the presses at work. I never got to visit one, but that does a surprisingly good job of conveying the vastness and power of it. What a horrible image to think of … cutting those mighty presses into pieces to be shipped off to make Toyota fenders.

    This booklet is from my own collection, and (as you can tell from the scans) someone folded the darn thing in half. Probably a kid on the tour who had to fold it to cram it into his pocket.

    Thanks for the history lesson about the Bulletin. Some of their "Nearly Everybody…" ads I recall featured really great cartoon art. Can't think of where I would have seen then, maybe in E&P?

    –Allan

  3. There was a series of ads for the Bulletin that appeared in various national publications by New Yorker cartoonist Richard Decker, about 1950, that featured groups of people in public, all so engrossed in their copies of the EB that they failed to notice something happening to the only one NOT doing so. Newspapers often advertised in mainstream magazines like the Saturday Evening Post, Life, Newsweek, etc. to catch the eye of advertisers who sought specific regional coverage. They were selling their ad space.
    The motto was also the title of an, I guess, "satirical" painting that had some fame by Ben Sahn, featuring two old crazy ladies, one with and one without an EB. The one with has folded it into a paper hat she wears. So the gag, and I mean the humourous point, not the reaction to Sahn's hideous style, was the probably that no READING was going on. Perhaps the Bulletin's conservative Republican viewpoint is also a componant of the work.

  4. I took a tour of the Bulletin building as a lad; I got one of those cardboard "mats" as a souvenir.

    Don't think whoever wrote the comic was a Philly boy; one would say "37th and Snyder", not the other way around. Snyder only goes to 33rd, but I can see them wanting to use a fictitious intersection… 😀

  5. One thing that seems odd about the book, or booklet, is that it indeed was not concocted by a Philadelphian, it was assembled by Harvey comics in New York. Yet it begs a question, why, if there's this fantastic ultra modern press at the self-described "Showplace of American Journalism", didn't they print it themselves? They had their own art department and cartoonists, like F.O. Alexander and Bil Keane, for instance, both men who I knew.
    So who actually drew it? I guess some of you comic book scholars might know. It's listed in Overstreet, (Vol.34) without credit.

  6. I have been writing stories for my grandchildren, including some about various jobs I have had. In the summer of 1963 I worked at the Bulletin as a fly boy in the pressroom. I loved the job, made many paper hats, washed lots of ink out of my ears and nose, and was happy to find the comic book on your blog so I could share it with my grandchildren. I have one minor comment about the full-page drawing of the pressroom: The double track of rollers in the floor (which carried the curved plates), ran past the presses on each side, not just on the left. It emerged from the composing room,ran in front of the presses on the right side, made a u-turn at the end of the pressroom, and returned on the left side.
    Thanks for sharing! Many good memories.

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