In the world of Film Franchises there are several recent examples “Harry Potter”, “Jason Bourne” and “Star Wars” that generally benefit from wonderful storytelling. They have flourished over the recent decades thrilling audience young and old. The Grandparents of these comparative youngsters, have transcented formats and generations.
Two competing comic book publishers have wrestled for audiences attention and have, in recent years, flourished thanks to the explosion in the capabilities of the special effects departments telling their timeless morality plays of Good conquering Evil. Now owned by competing media giants, Time Warner and Disney the duel continues. Contemporaries founded 83 years and 78 years ago respectively, they are DC and Marvel.
For me, DC Comics (“DC” deriving from a popular early series “Detective Comics”) is the clear winner. The home of iconic heroes including Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Justice League and Suicide Squad and equally nasty villains The Joker and Lex Luther. The value of these heroic characters has been carefully realised over the years in print, on film, via gaming and merchandising.
DC Comics was founded in Manhattan (432 Fourth Street, New York City) as “National Allied Publications” by Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson in 1934. His mother was a journalist who hosted the likes of Theodore Roosevelt and Rudyard Kipling at the family’s home. A known writer on military matters Wheeler-Nicholson saw a gap in the comic market and published a tabloid format “New Fun – The Big Comic Magazine” in February 1935 that become the first comic book containing all-original material and advertising.
By March 1937 the first Detective Comic was published and become very popular. Batman was introduced in issue 27 in May 1939.
Cash flow problem saw Major Wheeler-Nicholson leave having been compelled to hand the business over to his creditor and fellow publisher, Harry Donenfeld and his accountant Jack Leibowitz.
DC’s fourth title “Action Comics” Issue 1, which introduced “Superman”, was published in June 1938 – in 2010 a copy of this publication achieve $1m at auction.
The late 1940’s saw a waning in the popularity of DC’s Comic Book Superheros but with some re-imagining in the mid-1950’s The Green Lantern and Justice League of America were launched.
In 1966, the now iconic Batman TV show first aired on ABC in the US, driving comic book sales and appealing to a new generation of young teens – and fans of the Lincoln Futura used as the platform for his “Batmobile”.
1953 saw DC launch the satirical, excellent and still published “Mad” magazine. In 1967, then owner National Periodical Publications was purchased by Kinney National Company an early incarnation of Warner Communications.
In late 1976 Jeanette Kahn, DC’s newly appointed Publisher commissioned graphic designer Milton Glaser – I NY – to design a new logo. Known as the “DC bullet”, the logo premiered in February 1977 and was used until 2005.
1978 saw the release of the first Superman movie – culminating in “Superman Returns” in 2006. Batman has had seven outings in his own right between 1989 and 2012. In 2016, Batman was pitted against Superman in “Batman v Superman – Dawn of Justice”. “Wonder Woman” was released in the US on 2nd June 2017.
Images courtesy of DC Comics and Time Warner
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