Golden Legacy (1966)
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Publisher: Fitzgerald Publishing Company
Publication Date: 1966 - 1976
Country: United States
In 1966 Bertram A Fitzgerald was working for the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance when he jumped feet first into publishing. He acted as defacto editor of the first edition of Golden Legacy, though in hindsight, he feels he wasn't fully prepared for the complexity of the job. He decided on the topic for the first issue, and approached his army friend Leo Carty, with whom he'd worked before, designing a board game Fitzgerald had created based on the stock market, and asked him to write and illustrate it. Fitzgerald later made minor changes in the script.
The first edition of Golden Legacy Volume 1, The Saga of Toussaint L' Ouverture, and the Birth of Haiti was published in 1966, and now only needed to be distributed. Fitzgerald had had a difficult time finding a printer able to do good four color work on a black oriented magazine, eventually having to settle on a small out of state printer who's lack of modern printing equipment is apparent on the early editions, and now he faced the same problems with distribution. Comic books were seen as entertainment, not education, the market for black educational material was considered marginal indeed, and Fitzgerald was unable to break into this biased newsstand monopoly. Instead he worked briefly with a loose group of independent distributors called commission men, who supplied the black community with specialized products like darker stockings, beauty products and dream books, which were overlooked by white distributors, but he found it difficult to be paid by these men. Volume 2, the Saga of Harriet Tubman, with story by Joan Bacchus and art by her and Tom Feelings was produced and distributed this way, but by Volume 3 Fitzgerald was looking for a more creative method of funding and distribution.
He approached the Coca Cola Company with the idea that since blacks accounted for a greater per capita share of soft drink sales than whites, they should acknowledge this by cultivating black customers through sponsorship of black culture. Coke was interested and they asked Fitzgerald to suspend newsstand distribution until they could work out a deal, which took about a year.
During this time Fitzgerald was introduced to Tom Feelings, an artist with a similar vision who had already prepared an illustrated feature on Crispus Attucks for another publication, and this feature was adapted for the third volume of Golden Legacy, with additional artwork by golden age artist Ezra Jackson.
This is the first issue to list Dr Benjamin Quarles, Professor of History at Morgan State College as consultant,and is the first issue to feature a full color back cover ad for the Coca Cola Company featuring photos of African American models.
One of Coca Cola's concerns was the lack of printing quality on the early issues, but with their new financial backing, Fitzgerald was able to to get a better press to take his business
Fitzgerald believes it was his background as an accountant that allowed him to work out this deal to everyone's advantage where Coca Cola bought ads before publication and would then buy bulk amounts of comics at a great discount to distribute them free to schools, libraries, and organizations such as the NAACP, the Urban League and the Reading is Fundamental programs. 11 titles were published this way over the next several years, and the final few books were published under similar arrangements with a number of other companies. Bowery Savings, Equitable Life, Avon Cosmetics, A & P Food Stores, AT&T, Woolworths, Exxon, Columbia Pictures, McDonalds and Philadelphia Electric all became supporters of this series.
Howard Darden became art director with Volume 7, and new material was published through 1976, with an approximate total of nine million copies distributed.
Number of issues cataloged: 18