Star Publications, Inc. emerged as a notable American comic book publisher during the Golden Age, active from 1949 to 1954. Founded by the collaborative efforts of artist/editor L.B. Cole and lawyer Gerhard Kramer, Star specialized in a range of genres, including horror, crime, romance, and even featuring talking animal stories. Originally established in New York City, the company later relocated to Buffalo, New York.
The roster of creators associated with Star Publications included prominent names such as Nina Albright, Frank Frazetta, Alvin Hollingsworth, Joe Kubert, and Wally Wood. Co-owner L.B. Cole, renowned for his distinctive psychedelic, black-light cover illustrations, significantly contributed to the company’s artistic identity.
In 1949, L. B. Cole, already known for his work as a Blue Bolt cover artist, acquired characters and artwork from publisher Novelty Press. Utilizing these assets, Cole and his partner Kramer established Star Publications, inaugurating with the continuation of the Blue Bolt title (starting with issue #102). As the popularity of horror comics surged, inspired by the success of EC Comics’ Tales from the Crypt, Cole transformed Blue Bolt into a horror series titled Blue Bolt Weird Tales of Terror by 1951.
Star Publications boasted several notable titles, among them romance series like “School Day Romances,” and “Popular Teen-Agers,” which spanned 19 issues from 1950 to 1954. Romance comics, focusing on relationships and emotions, found resonance with a generation basking in newfound prosperity and ample leisure time for entertainment. The post-war era also witnessed a return to traditional gender roles, emphasizing marriage and family life. Romance comics adeptly mirrored these societal norms, delivering stories that echoed prevailing cultural values – often by emphasizing the tantalizing or scandalous results of deviation from them.
In the 1950s, print media, including comic books, held sway as a dominant form of entertainment. Television was still in its nascent stages. Romance comics thrived on the popularity of print media, capitalizing on the accessibility of comic books at newsstands and drugstores – effectively serving as the soap operas of that era.
However, due to the provocative nature of titles like Blue Bolt Weird Tales of Terror and Startling Terror Tales, Star Publications found itself singled out in Fredric Wertham‘s 1954 book “Seduction of the Innocent.” Faced with the public outcry against the comic book industry, the pressures of the 1954 hearings by the United States Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency, and the 1955 death of publisher Kramer, Star Publications succumbed to these challenges and shut down shortly thereafter.