|Status||defunct: 1953 (comics), 1961 (magazines and paperbacks)|
|Founder||Alex L. Hillman|
|Country of origin||United States of America|
|Headquarters location||535 Fifth Avenue, New York City|
|Publication types||Comic books, Magazines, Paperback books|
|Fiction genres||Superhero, Crime/detective, Western|
Hillman Periodicals, Inc. was an American magazine and comic book publishing company founded in 1938 by Alex L. Hillman, a former New York City book publisher. It is best known for its true confession and true crime magazines; for the long-running general-interest magazine Pageant; and for comic books including Air Fighters Comics and its successor Airboy Comics, which launched the popular characters Airboy and The Heap.
In the late 1930s and early 1940s, Hillman competed with Bernarr Macfadden and Fawcett Publications by publishing comics, true confessions magazines (Real Story, Real Confessions, Real Romances) and crime magazines (Crime Detective, Real Detective, Crime Confessions).
In 1948 Hillman began publishing paperback books. There were several series of abridged mystery and western novels published in the larger 'digest' size. The long-running Hillman paperbacks first appeared in 1948 and lasted until 1961.
In 1944, Hillman launched a digest-sized, general-interest, "slick" (glossy paper) magazine, Pageant, with an initial print run of 500,000 copies. To obtain the paper during World War II wartime rationing, Hillman ended his detective magazines and comics, which together brought in a $250,000 annual profit. He returned to comics in 1946, resuming some titles from the earlier series.
Like most comic book publishers during the period fans and historians called the Golden Age of comic books, Hillman's titles included costumed superheroes. As trends in the comic book market changed, the focus shifted more to crime fiction/detective stories, making Hillman one of the earliest crime comics publishers (Crime Detective Comics, Real Clue Crime Stories), and Westerns (Dead-Eye Western Comics and Western Fighters). During this time, Hillman often utilized the talents of Captain America creators Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. Hillman's most notable character, however, continuing in new stories by another publisher, Eclipse Comics, in the 1980s, was the Charles Biro, Dick Wood and Al Camy-created aviator-adventurer Airboy in Air Fighters Comics and its successor, Airboy Comics.
Hillman ceased publishing comic books in 1953, while continuing to launch such new magazines as Homeland and People Today, while also distributing Freeman, a journal of right-wing opinion. Amid a 1953 battle for control of directors and editors, publisher Hillman announced his resignation as the Freeman treasurer because "it has been almost impossible for the past six months to run the magazine". The following year, Hillman said he was thinking about launching a "conservative Republican" morning newspaper in Washington, D.C., but nothing came of it.
Hillman periodicals also had a publication named Flight, edited by Norton Wood. (Wood had previously served as managing editor of a highly-classified monthly report on air weapons prepared by McGraw-Hill under contract with the U.S. Air Force. Wood had been a member of the editorial staff of This Week Magazine and of the U.S. Camera Publishing Co.) Flight contained stories of the tremendous revolution going on in the skies - the transition within a decade from air travel as men had understood it for two generations to an entire new era of flight at supersonic speeds and fantastic altitudes, of strange new shapes in aircraft design, of combat planes without pilots, and rocket voyages into outer space. Flight chronicled the revolution in the skies with lines of defense of the "H-Bomb" with futuristic drawings by Matt Greene artistically depicting a U.S. coastal city under coordinated attack by Russian bombers and submarines, and giant "inner tube" satellite space stations with depictions proposed by Wernher von Braun orbits in space flight.
Hillman sold Pageant to Bernarr Macfadden in April 1961, and the magazine continued until 1977.
Published Alex L. Hillman was a noted art collector who initially developed an interest in the field when he was a book publisher, commissioning artists to illustrate new editions of classic literature. He was married to Rita Hillman. He began his collection with such American painters as Raphael Soyer and Preston Dickinson, and expanded it to included impressionist and other painters. He eventually established the Alex Hillman Family Foundation, a private foundation in Manhattan, to oversee the collection.
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