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Helen Meyer

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Helen Meyer
HelenMeyer
About
Birth Name: Helen Honig
Born: 1908
Died: April 20, 2003
Country: United States
Area(s): Editor, Publisher
Notable Work: Dell Publications

Helen Honig Meyer (1908-April 20, 2003) was an editor, vice president and president at Dell Publications from 1937 through 1962. She was instrumental in securing the Disney, Warner Brothers, Little Lulu, and Popeye licenses for Dell.

Meyer began working for Dell Publications in 1923 and rose to be president and CEO early-60s-76, when Dell was sold to Doubleday and Co., and she remained as consultant to 1982. From 1982 on she worked as a literary agent.

In 1986, she was inducted into the Publisher's Hall of Fame.

SourcesEdit


It all began in 1923 when George hired 16 year-old Helen Honig as a clerk in his fledgling printing company. By the time she married her husband, Abraham J. Meyer (a member of the New York Stock Exchange) in 1929, she was already a guiding spirit behind Dell’s growth, helping Delacorte move from pulp magazines into comic books, paperbacks and, eventually, hardcover books. She became vice-president under Delacorte in the 1940’s and was president and chief executive from the early 1950’s until 1976.

Helen proved to be a savvy business woman and astute at keeping her finger on the pulse of the book market. In 1938 with comic books exploding in popularity, she suggested to George they enter the field again, this time by publishing titles developed by Western Publishing and Lithographing Co. Western would do the work, Dell would get final approval, then finance and distribute the product, collecting a percentage of the profits.

Since 1938 once or twice a year, Western’s editor (at first Matthew Murphy, then later on, Chase Craig) would send a representative to visit the Dell offices with mock-ups and samples for proposed comics, which Helen would look through then select. “She might say, ‘Okay, let’s do another twelve issues of Looney Tunes next year, six of Andy Panda...let’s try two issues of that new Rocky and His Friends thing you brought in...’ And so on.” “[When] Dell broke with Western, Dell Comics maintained the Dell Comics logo. Dell created a new line of comics and a lot of what was published was an attempt of getting a hold of the glory days of comic book publishing that Dell had during the late 1940’s and 50’s.”

“Helen Meyer called me into her office and asked me if I was capable of doing this job.” Editor Don Jon “DJ” Arneson said, “I said yes I am, and she said okay, you are now my comic book editor. So I didn’t come into comics with a long history of working in them. I came into the publishing industry and it turned out my entry was through Dell Comics. I was there until I moved to Europe. 

“Prior to moving to Europe, I had gone to Helen Meyer and told her I wanted to go freelance and become a freelance writer. She said she couldn’t accept that, but offered me the opportunity where I could continue as staff editor, come in for half a week and the balance of the week I would be for my own work. That was a deal I could not refuse, so I did that for 2-3 years. Ultimately I went full time freelance.”

“[George Delacorte] was involved in an extremely limited way. He wasn’t in his office at all. Helen Meyer ran the company and did it very, very well. My interaction with George Delacorte was extremely limited. Yes, we met; I was in his office on 3 or 4 occasions, [but] we never did lunch or anything like that. He was kind of an old guy at the time and left the management and running of the company to Helen Meyer.” 

“She was very business driven and very personable, if you were able to reach her. Let me put it this way. She was a very proficient business woman. When you dealt with her, it was strictly all business. But she had a very warm side, I’d say as I dealt with her on a steady basis. We would take a cab to go to a screening of a movie or a TV series, projected to be opening in the following fall. We would have conversations in the cab that were comfortable. I was 26 years old at the time and she would say you're more like my son than my editor. At the time it was nice to be considered that way. My point is she was very personable to me. But she was very difficult with some, because she was all business. She knew what she wanted and her decisions were virtually always good. She was the boss. So there was normal reaction of somebody, an editor of a book or magazine, that you had to go through the boss. And it would depend on the circumstances of the meeting. But my recollection and memory of her is very, very warm.”

“I reported directly to Helen Meyers,” DJ continued, “that is to say the editorial material that I requested from writers, the synopsis and manuscripts. Ultimately the manuscripts would end up in Helen Meyers’ office. I’m not suggesting that she read all of them. If I had a suggestion, a comic book idea or whatever, she would be the last word.”

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