Al Norton’s principal editorial function was to read all the incoming pro submissions, and what few the three of us had considered possibilities from the slush pile, to pick out the ones he liked well enough to buy. Copy editing, proofreading, writing house ads and departments he left to us.
We also picked a few scenes from each story that seemed illustrative possibilities and handed copies over to Aleck Portegal, the art director — or more likely to his one and only assistant — to farm out to artists for the ten or twelve interior black-and-white drawings each issue had. What we got back from the Art Department was not only our suggestions for drawings, but both the original drawings themselves, as well as the zinc linecuts that went to the printer. (All our magazines were still printed on Mr. Gutenberg’s clever movable-type machines. The faster and easier offset presses were not yet in favor.)
Alden’s department was collectively charged with getting new issues of about a dozen magazine out in each two-month period. (Ours were all bi-monthlies, Harry Steeger being very attached to that two-month on-sale exposure. Each of the magazines came with six or seven deadlines, which meant that the three of us had some 72 separate deadlines to meet in each 60-day period. Since we didn’t work on Saturdays, Sundays or national holidays, that meant that every day of the week was usually the day when at least one deadline had to be met,
For, say, an issue to be dated August, the first deadline would come on about February 17th. That was the deadline for cover copy; on that day we had to give Al or his assistant a sheet of paper containing the best, or at last the titles that sounded best, of the stories that would be in that issue. That meant that we had to keep a record of what titles we had picked out, for it meant some embarrassments if, when we actually put the issue together out of the first proofs, we didn’t include the stories we’d listed.
Note that I didn’t list any deadlines for the actual cover paintings themselves. That’s because they weren’t our problem. Covers were the department of Harry Steeger and Aleck Portegal, and as the scene depicted almost never had anything to do with any of the issue’s stories, none of us, Alden included, had any idea of what would be on the cover until the actual printed copy was in our hands.
The second deadline would be a week later, say, February 24th. That was when typed descriptions, taken from the manuscripts themselves, of scenes for the black-and-white interior illustrations, were due to go to the Art Department.
Third deadline: March 17th: copy-edited copy of all material intended for that issue, along with all relevant line-cuts, to the printer.
First proofs of all that back about April 7th, proofread texts, organized into the actual contents for that issue, plus typed copy for house ads, departments, etc., back to printer April 14th.
Foundry proofs back May 1st; to printers May 5th.
August issue on sale June 1st.
That, remember, is for just one of the dozen or so in our department.
More to come. . . .