Postal Regs Amendment

Robert Hutchings robertmhutchings at
Thu Aug 17 05:24:45 CEST 2006

Dear All,

> "In 1956, Dell began offering its comic books
> directly to  the end consumer 
> on a subscription basis.  Conforming to a seemingly
> inexplicable U.S. postal 
> requirement to obtain  lower cost second-class
> mailing privileges, each 
> qualifying Dell periodical was  mandated to run a
> single page of TEXT, and a comics 
> story which featured characters not used in ANY
> other  story in the magazine (!) 
> "…Don’t ask me,  I’m just a columnist!!!!  
> Over  the years, I’ve never 
> heard ANY practical reason for this one!    It  was
> this latter item which 
> brought the Gyro  Gearloose short stories into
> being, and into the UNCLE SCROOGE 
> title on a permanent  basis."
> [End of Quoted Material] 
> Note that this text requirement of the regulation
> would have been  
> instrumental in bringing those "One-Page-Text"
> stories, that usually featured  Goofy, 
> Li'L Bad Wolf, etc. into being... and, for other
> publishers, took  the form of 
> educational or fiction texts and eventually gave
> birth to the letter  columns.  

> Earlier, I said that the Postal Regulation might
> have brought the  
> "One-Page-Text" stories into being.  
> Of course, they existed in the earliest issues of 
> etc.  (Often running for more than one page).  The 
> regulation, more 
> accurately, ensured their CONTINUANCE... probably
> long past the  point that most of the 
> audience read them.  
> Unrelated question:  How many of you actually read
> these text stories  when 
> they appeared?  I almost never did... and only
> recently, when I peruse  an 
> older book, do I now take the time to do so.  Kinda
> like finding  "something new" 
> wrapped inside "something old".  


> I think this topic came up once before.  If I
> remember correctly, the postal 
> regulations did not specifically prohibit any
> particular characters from 
> appearing together.  Rather, the postal regulations
> required there be 
> different stories in each issue in order to receive
> the best (cheapest) 
> shipping rate.  I'm guessing they defined different
> stories as ones which 
> contain totally different characters.  Consequently
> it was most likely the 
> publisher which decided not to put Gyro and Scrooge
> in the same stories in 
> the Uncle Scrooge comics (for purely economic
> reasons).


Joe is correct in stating that the comic books were
required to contain a backup story which did not
include any character anywhere else mentioned. A brief
editorial on page 512 of the Carl Barks Library Uncle
Scrooge 1-20 (this is the second volume in the set)
confirms this. It is as a direct result from this
obscure and inexplicable postal regulation that duck
fans are blessed with these fantastic Gyro shorts. The
editorial also clarifies the issue on character
inclusion: “Two Gyro stories had been completed before
it was realized that no (in bold) characters from the
lead story could be used.” As a result, in those
stories, Huey, Dewey, and Louie became Mortie and
Ferdie, and Donald suddenly morphed into the one-shot
character Speedy, who looked very suspiciously like a
dog-faced Donald. The dialogue remained unchanged, and
includes the comment: “Gladstone is coming over with a
 new sports car, and I can’t let him outgun my old hot
rod!” With Donald, this comment is obviously relevant
to the story, as his battles with Gladstone were
well-established; with Speedy, it was much less so. 
As for those texts, I’ve known for years (though I
can’t say how) they were required for postal
regulations. It was news to me that they were actually
only required beginning in 1956. That was the only
explanation I could see in having them, because I
generally thought they were uninteresting, poorly
written, and taking up space that could have been
devoted to “comics.” In other words, I could have
dispensed entirely with the “stories.” As I acquire my
older issues more gradually than the more-recent, I
read them for the sake of history, but no other.
Interesting to learn that they are, in a way, the
precursor to letter columns. At least something
worthwhile came from them.


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