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1937-01 Detective Digest
1951-10 Melodyland
1937-09 Now And Then
1953-01 Speed Mechanics
1939-01 Funny Picture
1954-08 Boat Sport
1939-03 Keen Detective
1955-05 Model Fun
1940-12 Comet
1962-03 Custom Craft
1942-05 Smiles
1965-02 Flying Models






















Raymond J. Kelly was born on November 20, 1890 in Brooklyn, NY. His father, Edward Kelly, was born in 1864 in NY. His mother, Sarah Kelly, was born in 1869 in NY. The parents married in 1883 and had six children, Joseph (b.1884), Edward (b.1885), Francis (b.1888), Raymond (b.1890), Harold (b.1892), and Leo (b.1897). The family lived at 869 Jefferson Avenue in Brooklyn. The father was a construction mason.

On December 1, 1905 the father, Edward Kelly, died at the age of forty-four in Brooklyn.

The 1910 census listed the Kelly family at 252 Prospect Place. The widowed mother, age forty-nine, worked as a dressmaker. The three oldest sons had left home, but Raymond Kelly (age eighteen) worked as a salesman. Harold (age sixteen) worked at a grocery store, and Leo (age ten) attended school.

In 1917 Raymond Kelly was a clerk at the U.S. Cigar Company at 451 Fulton Street.

On June 5, 1918, during the Great War, Raymond Kelly registered with his draft board and was recorded at the time to be age twenty-seven, tall, slender, with blue eyes and blond hair. He requested exemption to support his widowed mother. He was not selected for military service.

On January 17, 1920 the Eighteenth Amendment took effect, which made the sale of alcohol a federal crime. Demand exceeded supply to such an outrageous extent that law enforcement was quickly overwhelmed. Politicians had intended to prohibit unwholesome behavior, but inadvertently generated a national syndicate of organized crime that controlled and coordinated the wholesale import, manufacture, storage, trucking and distribution of alcoholic beverages. Criminal gangs were suddenly involved in a wildly lucrative mass production industry on a scale that was previously unimaginable.

In 1920 Raymond Kelly was listed as an auditor at a "Shipping Board." That same year he married Margaret Mary Craco. She was born in 1892 in NYC, and was a high school graduate. They had no children.

During the "roaring twenties" organized crime acquired control of the nationwide system of distribution, trucking, warehousing, and labor unions. The American News Company (ANC) was the most powerful force in publishing. It was controlled by organized crime, but it was headed by William Randolphh Hearst, Arthur Brisbane, and Moe L. Annenberg. To avoid prosecution for anti-trust laws, ANC delegated various affiliates, such as Lee Ellmaker, Paul Sampliner, Irving S. Manheimer, Warren Angel, and Theodore Epstein, to operate as independent publishers, although the lifeblood of their operating credit came from ANC.

In 1925 Raymond Kelly worked as a stock supervisor at The Pictorial Review, which had come under financial control of Lee Ellmaker, on behalf of ANC.

The 1930 census listed Mr. and Mrs. Kelly at 1641 East 46th Street in Brooklyn. His occupation was "Circulation Manager of a publishing company."

On April 12, 1931 The New York Times reported the new incorporation of The Archer Press. The first publication of The Archer Press was Complete Movie Novel Magazine, whose table of contents listed B. A. MacKinnon as president and H. K. Fly as secretary and treasurer. The magazine cover showed Marlene Dietrich. That same year, the same image also appeared on the book cover of "Madame-X" by Alexandrine Bisson from The Archer Press. This book was distributed by Triangle Monthly Books, which was owned by Moe L. Annenberg.

The Archer Press went on to produce several hardcover books for Triangle Monthly Books, such as "Help Wanted" by Jack Lait and "Once To Every Man" by Larry Evans. These books were later distributed through back-page ads for Mayfair Publications, a company owned by Theodore Epstein, on behalf of ANC.

"The Archer" is the name of the zodiac sign for Sagittarius, which features a centaur aiming a bow and arrow. Harvey K. Fly was born on November 27th under the sign of Sagittarius, so the name of this company is most likely a reference to his majority control of the corporation.

In January of 1932 Lee Ellmaker, who had been general manager of Macfadden Publications, became the publisher of Pictorial Review, where Raymond J. Kelly continued to work as circulation manager.

On May 20, 1932 The New York Times reported the new incorporation of Teck Publications by Abner Germann (1896-1976), who was Office Manager at Macfadden Publications.

In October of 1932 Walter Winchell wrote in his column for The Daily Mirror, owned by William Randolph Hearst, "Frederick Gardener is expecting to produce a new magazine entitled Conflict."

In the Summer of 1933 Centaur Publishing Corporation produced a new pulp magazine, Conflict. This new company name "Centaur" also refers to the zodiac sign of Sagittarius, "The Archer." The first issue listed the editorial offices at 101 Park Avenue. The advertising was handled by H. D. Cushing of Man Story Magazines, located at 45 West 45th Street. The printing was handled by James A. Falconer of the Phelps Printing Company in the Myrick Building in Springfield, Massachusetts. There were only two issues of Conflict produced in 1933 and another two in 1934. The table of contents confirmed that the editor was Frederick Gardener. The artists included Harry Parkhurst, and Leo Morey. The authors included Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson.

In 1934 Pictorial Review was sold to William Randolph Hearst. At that time the magazine had a monthly circulation rating of over two million copies, which made it America's third-most-popular periodical.

In June of 1934 The Author & Journalist, a trade journal for writers, reported "Conflict has been discontinued and the editor, Frederick Gardener, cannot be reached. We are informed that a large number of submitted manuscripts are piled up on the editor's desk and that the landlord said he would hold them until called for by authors."

In September of 1934 Writers Review, another trade journal, reported "Conflict is back on the newsstands. Still published by the Centaur Company. Phelps Publishing Company is printing the magazine, which gives good standing."

In November or 1934 Writer's Digest reported, "Conflict, which was formerly published by the Centaur Publishing Company is reported to have been added to the string which includes Woman's World and Teck Magazines." Teck Publications was a subsidiary of Macfadden Publications, which had created and then later dissolved MacKinnon & Fly. The General Manager of Teck was Lee Ellmaker. "Frederick Gardener is again editor. He is also editing Complete Detective Novel magazine and Wild West Stories & Complete Novel Magazine. This group also includes Amazing Stories. The address for the entire group is 461 Eighth Avenue."

The December 1934 issue of Writer's Review reported, "There seems to be a bit of confusion regarding Teck Publications, but here is the real lowdown. The company publishes Radio News, Amazing Stories, Amazing Stories Quarterly, and Wild West & Complete Novel Magazine. Teck never owned Conflict, despite several reports to that effect in various writers' magazines. Conflict was the personal property of Joe Hardie, who happened to be employed in the circulation department of the news company affiliated with Teck. Frederick Gardener edited Conflict for Joe Hardie on the side. When he went with Teck he continued to handle Hardie's book. Gardener is now editing only Wild West & Complete Novel Magazine, as Conflict has folded." This explains why Joseph Johns Hardie had been listed in the 1930 census as a "publisher of magazines" for a "publishing house."

By 1936 Fred Gardener had joined Magazine Publishers, which later became Ace Magazines, at 67 West 44th Street. The publisher was A. A. Wyn, but the company was owned by Warren Angel, who had left Eastern Distributing to become co-owner of Kable News Distribution Company, of Mount Morris, Illinois.

In 1936 Raymond J. Kelly was Production Manager at Today Magazine, which was published by another affiliate of ANC.

In August of 1936 Harle Publications was formed by George L. Aichele, Joseph Hardie, and Warren Angel. The company name "Harle" was derived from the first and last syllables of Hardie and Aichele. George L. Aichele (1883-1943) was the Traffic Manager at Magazine Publishers, which was owned by Warren Angel, so his role as a corporate member was to represent the interests of ANC.

On November 20, 1936 Harle Publications produced their first publication, Detective Digest.

On July 22, 1937 The New York Sun reported that Harle Publications had leased office space at 507 Fifth Avenue, between 42nd and 43rd Streets.

September 1937 was the first issue of Now And Then, the second magazine from Harle Publications. Now And Then was similar to popular photo magazines, such as Life, See, and Click, which featured sensational photos of topical subjects, like floods, fires, and earthquakes, as well as movie stars, and sports, but Now And Then also included spicy photos of nude women and lurid crime scenes. The first issue included a photo of the Kable Brothers printing plant in Mount Morris, Illinois, where Now And Then was printed. The third issue included a Statement of Ownership, dated September 28, 1937, which stated Raymond J. Kelly was the publisher and Business Manager, while the owners were George L. Aichele, Joseph Hardie, and Warren Angel.

According to "Magazines in the 20th Century" by Theodore Peterson, "Now And Then was a magazine in which former staff members of the Pictorial Review compared photos of the present and past."

The sixth issue of Now And Then was dated March 1938, and it listed a new location for their editorial offices, which had moved to 461 Eighth Avenue.

In 1938 Dime Crossword Magazine applied for a U. S. copyright for Harle Publications at 461 8th Avenue. The company president was identified as Joseph Johns Hardie and the business manager was Raymond J. Kelly.

In March of 1938 Joseph Hardie and Raymond Kelly produced Centaur Comics at 461 Eighth Avenue. They began with two comic titles from Cook & Mahon, Funny Pages and Funny Picture Stories. They also added two titles from Harry A. Chesler, Star Comics and Star Ranger Funnies. Over the previous year, all four of these titles had been published by Ultem Publications, which was owned by Isaac W. Ullman and Frank Z. Temerson.

Centaur Publications and The Archer Press had an historical business connection, since they were both founded six years earlier by MacKinnon & Fly, a subsidiary of Macfadden Publications, where Lee Ellmaker was the General Manager on behalf of ANC.

In July and August of 1938 Centaur added Keen Detective, and Amazing Mystery Comics. All Centaur Comics were edited by Lloyd Jacquet who began to build an art studio that would soon become Funnies Incorporated, at 45 West 45th Street. His stable of artists including Bill Everett (1917-1973), Bob Lubbers (1922-2017), Stan Drake, Frank Thomas (1914-19), Max Neill (1915-1984), Tarpé Mills (1918-1988), Basil Wolverton (1909-1978), Paul Gustafson (1916-1977), and Harold DeLay (1876-1947).

Joseph Hardie addressed the readers of Centaur Comics with cheerful editorials, signed "Uncle Joe." One of his unique innovations was to feature short biographical profiles on artists, which were accompanied by hand-drawn self-portraits.

A statement of ownership in Funny Picture Stories, dated September 29, 1938, listed the publisher as Joseph J. Hardie, the editor as Lloyd Jacquet, and the business manager as Raymond J. Kelly. The owners were listed as Centaur Publications, Harle Publications, Raymond J. Kelly, and Samuel J. Fried, who was Warren Angel's lawyer. The notary public was Bertha M. Holcepl.

On October 14, 1938 The New York Times reported that Harle Publications had leased office space at 220 Fifth Avenue.

One year later, on October 24,1939 it was reported Harle Publications had moved to 215 Fourth Avenue.

The 1940 census listed Raymond Kelly as a "self-employed publisher." That same census listed Joseph Hardie as a "publisher of magazines."

The February 1940 issue of Amazing Man Comics #9 included a Statement of Ownership that listed the names of Joseph Hardie, Raymond Kelly, and Warren Angel. The notary public was again Bertha M. Holcepl. Amazing Man Comics continued for two more years, but instead of Centaur, the indicia listed the publisher as Comic Corporation of America, a newly incorporated business that was also owned by Hardie, Kelly and Angel.

By 1940 Centaur was losing ground as a comic book publisher. Star Comics and Star Ranger Comics ended in August of 1939. Funny Picture Stories ended in December of 1939. Funny Pages ended in June of 1940. Keen Detective ended in September 1940, along with Amazing Mysteries. Despite these lost titles, on February 14, 1941 The New York Times reported that Harle Publications had leased additional space at 215 Fourth Avenue, which suggests an era of expansion.

In 1940 Joseph Hardie and Raymond Kelly formed H-K Publications at 215 Fourth Avenue. They produced Cross-Words & Contest News, Band Leaders Magazine, Smiles, Yoo-Hoo, Mirth, Current Astrology, Sermons In Brief, and the pulp magazine Comet, which was edited by Orlin Tremaine. The artists were Frank R. Paul, Leo Morey, Jack Binder, Michael Anthony Mirando (October 7, 1918 - December 6, 1995), and John Forte. The advertising was handled by Ace Fiction Group. H-K also produced two new comic books, Stars and Stripes and World Famous Heroes Magazine, the back pages of which included ads for Comet and other H-K Publications.

The September 1941 NYC Business Directory listed four companies at the same address, with the same telephone number - Centaur Publications, Comic Corporation of America, Harle Publications, and Sermons in Brief Publications.

In 1941 Raymond J. Kelly and his wife left Brooklyn and moved to Central Valley, NY.

On April 25, 1942 Raymond Kelly registered with the selective service, as required by law. He was recorded at the time to be age fifty-one, five-six, 170 pounds, with blue eyes, blonde hair, and a light complexion. He did not serve in the military during WWII.

On March 7, 1947 Raymond Kelly was a passenger on Trans Canada Airlines from LaGuardia Airport in NYC to Toronto, Canada, where he most likely arranged export of his various magazines.

In 1948 Rajo Publications was formed. The company name " Rajo" is composed of the first syllables of the first names of Raymond Kelly and Joseph Hardie.

In 1948 Ace Publications produced "Hidden Words," edited by Jean Andrew, who was editor-in-chief of Harle Publications.

On January 21, 1949 Warren Angel died of a heart attack at age sixty-two in NYC.

In 1952 H-K Publications produced a new magazine, Boat Sport, which was edited by Harold Hersey, a longterm business associate of Warren Angel.

In 1955 Harle Publications produced Model Fun with Bobby Benson and his B-B Riders.

Raymond J. Kelly died at the age of seventy-three in Central Valley, NY, on Ocotber 19, 1964.

Joseph J. Hardie died at the age of seventy on December 18, 1967.

On July 2, 1980 Frederick Gardener, another longterm business associate of Warren Angel, died at the age of seventy-four in NYC. The next day The New York Times published the following statement from the "President and Devoted Staff of Harle Publications. It is with profound sorrow that Harle Publications notes the passing of our friend and colleague, Frederick Gardener, a dedicated member of the publishing profession for over fifty years. He leaves a lasting memory. We will miss him."

Harle Publications still exists today, although it has passed through a long succession of owners.

                               © David Saunders 2017

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