The King Comics Reading Library Supplementary Reading Program was developed by Richard Guttenberg, Anne Marie Mueser and Sherman Saiger for King Features Syndicate in USA in 1977. The program was established as an aid for Teachers to educate young children, specifically in areas of reading such as vocabulary and sentence construction.
King Features Syndicate sent a ‘Teacher’s Guide – King Comics Reading’ manual to select schools in the Midwest of United States in 1977. The manual measures 8.5″ x 11″ and contains 32 black and white pages, explaining to Teacher’s how comic books should be used within the classroom to educate children. The front cover of this manual can be seen below.
In 1973, King Features published a series of 16 King Comic books dedicated to promoting the educational value of comic books for children, issued to schools free of charge by King Features Syndicate. Each issue was assigned a unique number preceded by the letters ‘R’, with a variety of comic book characters features.
Issue #1 – Tiger, #2 – Beetle Baily, #3 – Blondie, #4 – Tim Tyler’s Luck, #5 – Quincy, #6 The Phantom/Girl Phantom, #7 – Popeye, #8 – Prince valiant, #9 – Hagar, #10 – Redeye, #11 – Blondie, #12 – Popeye, #13 – Beetle Bailey, #14 – Quincy, #15 – The Phantom, #16 – Flash Gordon.
As can be seen below, the publishing information seen at the front of the comics in the series notifies the reader that the comic book series is printed by ‘Charlton Publications, Inc.’.
In 1977, King Features published a second set of 16 King Comic books specifically dedicated to promoting The King Comics Reading Library Supplementary Reading Program. Each issue was again assigned a unique number preceded by the letters ‘R’. The ‘Teacher’s Guide – King Comics Reading’ manual now splits the series into ‘Library #1’ and ‘Library #2’, as can be seen below on page 2.
As can be seen below, the publishing information seen at the front of the comics in the 1977 series notifies the reader that the comic books are printed by ‘World Color Press, Inc.’ and not by ‘Charlton Publications, Inc.’ as seen in the first print run in 1973.
Incorporated within each issue of the 16 comic series published in 1977, were engaging educational puzzles and quizzes and a pictorial dictionary that centered on the story inside as well as the diverse cast of King Features characters showcased within that specific issue. The inside back cover of each issue contains the answers to these puzzles and quizzes. A sample of these can be seen below, found in edition number R-06 in ‘Library #1’ featuring the Phantom, with the puzzle page seen on the left and the answer page seen on the right.
The ‘Teacher’s Guide – King Comics Reading’ manual provides teachers with ‘cheat notes’ on how the activities are to be completed, plus the educational purpose behind them to optimize and enhance the utilization of comics as a teaching tool in the classroom. The 2 pages found in the manual which correspond with the puzzles and quizzes above can be seen below.
The 16 comic books produced for The King Comics Reading Library Supplementary Reading Program in 1977 can be seen below, broken down into ‘Library #1’ and ‘Library #2’. The Phantom comic strips are featured in editions number R-06 and R-16, plus on the covers of these editions. Additionally, he appears on 5 back covers.
Note how the back cover art and layout differ between the two ‘Libraries’, with full body illustrations seen in ‘Library #1’ and then simply profile images with a star with ‘Library #2’.
Thank you Christopher Smith for assisting with images and information.