MLJ Magazines / Archie Comics
Maurice Coyne, Louis Silberkleit, and John L. Goldwater formed MLJ Magazines and started publishing in November 1939. The company name was derived from the initials of the partners' first names. Coyne served as MLJ's bookkeeper and CFO. Coyne and Silberkleit had been partners in Columbia Publishing, a pulp company that published its last pulp in the late 1950s. Silberkleit had a college degree from St. John's University, was a licensed and registered pharmacist, and had a law degree from New York Law School. His efforts were focused on the business, printing, separating, distribution and financial ends of the company. John Goldwater served as editor-in-chief. Goldwater was one of the founders of the Comics Magazine Association of America, and served as its president for 25 years. The Comics Magazine Association of America is best known to comic fans for its Comics Code Authority. He was also a national commissioner of the Anti-Defamation League. MLJ's first comic book published in November 1939 was Blue Ribbon Comics with the first half full color and the last half in red and white tints. In January 1940, Pep Comics debuted with the Shield, the first USA patriotic comic book hero, created by writer and managing editor Harry Shorten and artist Irv Novick. Top Notch Comics was launched in December 1941. Until March 1944, the cover feature of Pep was the Shield when Archie took over the cover. The Shield was a forerunner for Joe Simon's and Jack Kirby's Captain America, being published 14 months earlier.