by Carol L. Tilley

About Carol L. Tilley

Carol L. Tilley is Associate Professor in the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois. Her scholarship focuses on the intersection of comics, libraries, and young people, particularly in the United States in the mid-twentieth century. She is a former president of the Comics Studies Society and a 2016 Eisner Award judge.


In 1951, at the near peak of comic book sales in the United States, the two Goss high-speed rotary newspaper presses at Spartan Printing and Publishing, a new facility in southern Illinois, printed six million forty-eight-page comics a month (“Sparta Plant” 1951). The presses at Spartan required thirty-five thousand pounds of cyan, yellow, magenta, and black inks each month to keep up the demand for the four-color “funny books.” Spartan Printing was not exceptional: it was one of a series of presses across the United States that contributed to the one hundred million new comic book issues that were printed and then distributed to shops throughout the country. About a hundred employees at Spartan ensured that those copies of Archie, Dick Tracy, Black Cat, and other titles were trimmed, bound, and loaded onto trucks headed for a post office in St. Louis, Missouri (O’Keefe 2006).