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Ballantine Books
Type Comic publisher
Industry Comics
Founded 1952

Ballantine Books is a major book publisher located in the United States, founded in 1952 by Ian Ballantine with his wife, Betty Ballantine. It was acquired by Random House in 1973, which in turn was acquired by Bertelsmann AG in 1998 and remains part of that company today. Ballantine's logo is a pair of mirrored letter Bs back to back.[1] The firm's early editors were Stanley Kauffman and Bernard Shir-Cliff.[2]

Cartoons, comics and humor books

File:Grabsocks56.jpg

After publishing The World of Li'l Abner, Ballantine introduced Shel Silverstein in 1956 with his Grab Your Socks! collection of cartoons from Pacific Stars and Stripes. Ballantine also published several collections of Jim Davis' comic strip Garfield.

As an editor at Ballantine during the 1950s and 1960s, Bernard Shir-Cliff handled the Zacherley anthologies, the paperback of Hunter Thompson's Hell's Angels, Harvey Kurtzman's The Mad Reader and other early Mad paperbacks. He made four contributions to Mad and other magazines edited by Kurtzman. In 1956, Shir-Cliff edited a humor anthology, The Wild Reader, for Ballantine, including essays, poems and satirical pieces by Robert Benchley, Art Buchwald, Tom Lehrer, John Lardner, Shepherd Mead, Ogden Nash, S. J. Perelman, Frank Sullivan, James Thurber and others. The 154-page paperback was illustrated with cartoons by Kelly Freas who also did the front cover.

Another contributor to both Ballantine and the Kurtzman magazines was the cartoonist-author Roger Price. He did two humor books for Ballantine. I'm for Me First (1954) details Herman Clabbercutt's plan to launch a revolutionary political party known as the "I'm for Me First" Party. In One Head and Out the Other (1954) popularized the Catchphrase "I had one grunch, but the eggplant over there." The nonsense non sequitur was immediately adopted by science fiction fandom, appearing occasionally in fanzines, as noted in Fancyclopedia II (1959).[3]


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