Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Whitman Kid

Whitman Publishing

Kids from the '70s and '80s especially should recognize this logo from Whitman Publishing Company. Without knowing if this guy had a proper name, I'm just going to call him the Whitman Kid.

The Whitman Kid ruled over the kingdom of children's books, box puzzles, frame-tray puzzles and comic books produced by Whitman Publishing Company. He appeared prominently on those products from 1968 until approximately 1990. Their "Tell-A-Tale" book series was one of my personal favorites.

The Whitman Kid is a friendly looking kid, always with a big smile and that trademark W atop his head. What I enjoy about the design, besides the beauty of its simplicity, is the fact that the colors often changed. The Whitman Kid was a chameleon of sorts with the logo colors changing to match other colors in the book or puzzle cover.

Here's a custom logo that I put together for fun. I scanned in the logo from an old book and then cleaned up and colored it in Paintshop Pro.

Whitman Kid

Some historical information:

Hammerung-Whitman Publishing Company, as it was originally named, began in Chicago and was bought in 1915 by Western Publishing Company. "Whitman Publishing Company" then became a subsidiary of Western Publishing Company, which later also acquired the popular Little Golden Books line. The Whitman Publishing name was basically gone in the early 1990s in favor of the Golden Books brand name. More on the wacky company history can be found here: Western Publishing Company.

Now back to the good stuff!

Prior to the Whitman Kid's arrival circa 1968 (or possibly late 1967), Whitman puzzles, books and such had this simple logo.

The Whitman Kid is one of those cool character logos that probably many people find familiar, though placing him in context might not be easy for the average person. I think he's just one of those logos that we've all seen on products we enjoyed as kids. I'm just hoping in this blog post to give him a little more visibility and credit for being there for us kids in the '70s and '80s.

I don't know if he was used extensively in other promotions or premiums, but I was thrilled to come across this "Happy Helper" metal tab button in a box of assorted vintage toy "parts" I acquired last year.

Whitman Button

YES! I want to be a Happy Helper, too!

As I mentioned, in my research I've found the Whitman Kid on products from 1968 through 1990. So far, I'd say he disappeared along with the Whitman name in the early 1990s. He had a good 20+ year run!

Well that's about it. This is my homage to the Whitman Kid. Please contact me if you have more information about him, including pictures, alternate logos and especially other premiums.

PS -- There is still a Whitman Publishing Company which focuses on Coin Collecting. It was indeed part of Western Publishing company too. Another group bought the coin division from Western and then assumed the Whitman name since the children's division was going with the Golden Books brand name. Confusing, eh?

Until next time, I'll leave you with a few more of my custom creations of our good friend. Let's all be Happy Helpers out there!

Whitman Kid

Whitman Kid
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