So, we have comic books, but where did they come from? After all everything has a beginning.
For the beginning of the comic you would have to go back to the pulp heroes. “Pulps” were small 10 cent books, sold on the newsstands and were published from 1896 through the 1950s. They were usually filled with action heroes going to exotic places and having adventures. Among these heroes were Doc Savage and The Shadow. While these guys did extraordinary things, they weren’t called superheroes. However, they had their influence on what was to come.
The Phantom made his debut on February 17th, 1936. He was the first costumed hero and was created by Lee Falk. The Phantom was a normal “human” person. He fought crime with bravery and death defying stunts. He was one of the first characters who used a mask to hide his true identity. This, of course, would become the hallmark of most superheroes and crime-fighters to follow.
There is a lot of discussion on the origins of the first real comic book. Most agree it was Action Comics #1 which was first published in June of 1938. Why was this one so special? It introduced greatest superhero of all time, Superman. We would go on from there and enter what would be called the golden age of comics (Late 30’s through the 50’s). Much of what we see today was developed during this age and would catapult a billion-dollar industry.
If you want to learn more about the history of Comic Books and Superheroes I recommend: Super-history: Comic Book Superheroes and American Society, 1938 to the Present by Jeffrey K. Johnson. This study views American history from 1938 to 2010 through the lens of superhero comics, revealing the spandex-clad guardians to be not only fictional characters but barometers of the place and time in which they reside.
This Week’s Podcast:
On the podcast this week Jacob Edwards joins us to talk about the current state of comic books and it major stakeholders DC and Marvel. He also introduces us to an episode of the Blue Beetle. BB was one of the first comic book heroes to get his start on old time radio in the 1940s and go on to have good success in the comics.
You can listen to this podcast this Thursday (09/03) at Ron’s Amazing Stories, download it from iTunes, stream it on TuneIn Radio or listen on your radio Friday night at 8pm Eastern time. Check your local listing or find the station closest to you at this link.
August 27: CBS Radio Mystery Theater – Circle of Evil
September 03: A new story from the Blue Beetle introduced by our friend Jacob Edwards!
September 10: Time for a detective drama
September 17/24: Working on getting a Civil War historian
October 01: The Fifth Annual Month of Spooky Begins!