Action Comics (Golden Age)

The major event many cite as marking the beginning of the Golden Age was the 1938 debut of Superman in Action Comics #1, published by the predecessor of modern-day DC Comics. The creation of Superman made comic books into a major industry. Some date the start to earlier events in the 1930s: The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide‘s regular publication The Golden Age Quarterly lists comic books from 1933 onwards (1933 saw the publication of the first comic book in the size that would subsequently define the format); some historians, such Roger Sabin, date it to the publication of the first comic books featuring entirely original stories rather than re-prints of comic strips from newspapers (1935) by the company that would become DC Comics.

Action Comics #148 VF $295
Advertisements

Superman (Golden Age)

The major event many cite as marking the beginning of the Golden Age was the 1938 debut of Superman in Action Comics #1, published by the predecessor of modern-day DC Comics. The creation of Superman made comic books into a major industry. Some date the start to earlier events in the 1930s: The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide‘s regular publication The Golden Age Quarterly lists comic books from 1933 onwards (1933 saw the publication of the first comic book in the size that would subsequently define the format); some historians, such Roger Sabin, date it to the publication of the first comic books featuring entirely original stories rather than re-prints of comic strips from newspapers (1935) by the company that would become DC Comics.

 

Batman (Golden Age)

In early 1939, the success of Superman in Action Comics prompted editors at National Comics Publications (the future DC Comics) to request more superheroes for its titles. In response, Bob Kane created “the Bat-Man”. Collaborator Bill Finger recalled that “Kane had an idea for a character called ‘Batman,’ and he’d like me to see the drawings. I went over to Kane’s, and he had drawn a character who looked very much like Superman with kind of … reddish tights, I believe, with boots … no gloves, no gauntlets … with a small domino mask, swinging on a rope. He had two stiff wings that were sticking out, looking like bat wings. And under it was a big sign … BATMAN”. The bat-wing-like cape was suggested by Bob Kane, inspired by Leonardo Da Vinci‘s sketch of an ornithopter flying device as a child.

Finger suggested giving the character a cowl instead of a simple domino mask, a cape instead of wings, and gloves; he also recommended removing the red sections from the original costume. Finger said he devised the name Bruce Wayne for the character’s secret identity: “Bruce Wayne’s first name came from Robert Bruce, the Scottish patriot. Wayne, being a playboy, was a man of gentry. I searched for a name that would suggest colonialism. I tried Adams, Hancock … then I thought of Mad Anthony Wayne.” He later said his suggestions were influenced by Lee Falk‘s popular The Phantom, a syndicated newspaper comic-strip character with which Kane was also familiar.

 

MAD (Golden Age)

MAD is an American humor magazine founded in 1952 by editor Harvey Kurtzman and publisher William Gaines, launched as a comic book before it became a magazine. It was widely imitated and influential, affecting satirical media as well as the cultural landscape of the 20th century, with editor Al Feldstein increasing readership to more than two million during its 1974 circulation peak. As of January 2017, Mad has published 544 regular issues, as well as hundreds of reprint “Specials,” original material paperbacks, compilation books and other print projects.

 

Felix the Cat (1950)

Otto Messmer pursued the Sunday Felix comic strips until their discontinuance in 1943, when he began eleven years of writing and drawing Felix comic books for Dell Comics that were released every other month. Jack Mendelsohn was the ghostwriter of the Felix strip from 1948 to 1952. In 1954, Messmer retired from the Felix daily newspaper strips, and his assistant Joe Oriolo (the creator of Casper the Friendly Ghost) took over. The strip concluded in 1966.

Felix the Cat V1 #13 VG-F $49

Captain Marvel Adventures (1946)

Whiz Comics #2 (cover-dated Feb. 1940) was published in late 1939. The comic’s lead feature introduced audiences to Billy Batson, an orphaned boy who, by speaking the name of the ancient wizard Shazam, is struck by a magic lightning bolt and transformed into the adult superhero Captain Marvel. Shazam’s name was an acronym derived from  the six immortal elders who grant Captain Marvel his superpowers:   SolomonHerculesAtlasZeusAchilles and Mercury.

In addition to introducing the main character, his alter ego, and his mentor, Captain Marvel’s first adventure in Whiz Comics #2 also introduced his archenemy, the evil Doctor Sivana, and found Billy Batson talking his way into a job as an on-air radio reporter with station WHIZ. Captain Marvel was an instant success, with Whiz Comics #2 selling over 500,000 copies. By 1941, he had his own solo series, Captain Marvel Adventures, while he continued to appear in Whiz Comics, as well as periodic appearances in other Fawcett books, including Master Comics.

The Lone Ranger (1954)

In 1948, Western Publishing, with its publishing partner Dell Comics, launched a comic book series which lasted 145 issues. This originally consisted of reprints from the newspaper strips (as had all previous comic book appearances of the character in various titles from David McKay Publications and from Dell). However, new stories by writer Paul S. Newman and artist Tom Gill began with issue #38 (August 1951). Some original content was presented as early as #7 (January 1949), but these were non-Lone Ranger fillers. Newman and Gill produced the series until its final issue, #145 (July 1962).

Tonto got his own spin-off title in 1951, which lasted 31 issues. Such was the Ranger’s popularity at the time that even his horse Silver had a comic book, The Lone Ranger’s Famous Horse Hi-Yo Silver, starting in 1952 and running 34 issues; writer Gaylord DuBois wrote and developed Silver as a hero in his own right. In addition, Dell also published three big Lone Ranger annuals, as well as an adaptation of the 1956 theatrical film.

The Dell series came to an end in 1962. Later that same year, Western Publishing ended its publishing partnership with Dell Comics and started up its own comic book imprint, Gold Key Comics. The new imprint launched its own Lone Ranger title in 1964. Initially reprinting material from the Dell run, original content did not begin until issue #22 in 1975, and the magazine itself folded with #28 in 1977. Additionally, Hemmets Journal AB published a three-part Swedish Lone Ranger story the same year.

 

Real Heroes & True Comics (1941)

One of the first series of comics dedicated to educational topics was True Comics, published by Gworge J. Hecht’s Parents’ Magazine Press, beginning in 1941. Designed to convey not only information but also wholesome attitudes, the series covered a variety of materials, but many issues were devoted to patriotic stories from American history or to biographies of famous American (and occasionally non-Americans, such as Winston Churchill) from the past. The series also included stories of the exploits of the FBI, designed to heroize law enforcers and demonize criminal. These fact-based comics were enough of a commercial success that the series ran until 1950.

Turok Son of Stone (Dell)

Turok, Son of Stone, was illustrated by Rex Maxon. The writer-creator credit for the characters of Turok and Andar is disputed, with historians citing Matthew H. Murphy, Gaylord Du Bois and Paul S. Newman as the feature’s earliest writers.

The Western Publishing version of Turok was a Pre-Columbian era Native American (identified as Mandan in the first issue, on page 21 and 32 of Dell Four Color #596) who, along with his brother, Andar, became trapped in an isolated canyon valley populated by dinosaurs, which they refer to in general as “hoppers”, “monsters” and more often than not, beginning in Dell issue number 9, page 35 as “honkers”, as well as by their most obvious characteristics (tyrannosaurs are called “runners”, pterosaurs are called “flyers”, velociraptors are “screamers”, plesiosaurs are “sea demons”, Triceratops are “rammers”, etc.). The Du Bois stories involve Turok and Andar seeking a way out of the canyon. Du Bois was influenced by his visits to Carlsbad CavernsNew Mexico and developed the “Lost Valley” from his visits to the area.

After two appearances in Four Color #596 and #656, the title ran 27 issues (#3–29) published by Dell Comics (1956–62); then issues #30–125 (1962–80) from Gold Key Comics; and finally issues #126–130 (1981–82) under Western’s Whitman Comics imprint.

Turok Son of Stone #10 F-VF $89

Shock SuspenStories (1952)

Shock SuspenStories was part of the EC Comics line in the early 1950s. The bi-monthly comic, published by Bill Gaines and edited by Al Feldstein, began with issue 1 in February/March 1952. Over a four-year span, it ran for 18 issues, ending with the December/January 1955 issue.

Front covers were by Feldstein, Wally WoodJohnny CraigGeorge Evans and Jack Kamen. Kamen was the comic’s most prolific artist, usually doing the lead eight-page story in each issue. Other stories were illustrated by Craig, Evans, Wood, Graham IngelsJack DavisAl WilliamsonJoe OrlandoReed CrandallBernard Krigstein and Frank Frazetta. Writing was handled by Gaines and Feldstein exclusively through the first 12 issues with the exception of a single story written by Craig. Over the last 6 issues other writers that contributed included Carl Wessler, Otto Binder, and Jack Oleck.

Issue 13 featured “Squeeze Play”, the only solo story Frank Frazetta drew for EC