By Jacobus Dixon

Superheroes and costumed vigilantes were the bread and butter of the comic book magazine industry. They were colorful he-men who took no guff from nobody but ddidn’tuse their abilities to abuse innocent people. They were like local sports stars everybody would cheer for. But as a group, they weren’t very diverse. Their costumes were different, but underneath they were all just a bunch of muscle-bound, wealthy white guys. This was the group that had the money, so popular art and commercial products were primarily aimed at pleasing them above everyone else (unfortunately this is still true for some products).  And if you weren’t one of these wealthy white guys, these products would make you want to adjust your aesthetic tastes to be accepted into their sphere of influence. However, some felt that this pandering was a little too exclusive. William Moulton Marston was one of those people.

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Detective Comics #31

By Jacobus Dixon

It’s late 1939, we’re coming out of the Great Depression, World War II has started everywhere except the U.S., Gone with the Wind is the motion picture everyone’s talking about, the New York World’s Fair has opened, and Superman is dominating comic book magazine sales. A close second of course, was Batman (originally Bat-Man, but I guess National Comics figured the hyphen cut in on the name’s appeal). Unlike Superman, Batman was not super-powered and relied on his athletic abilities, gadgets, spooky appearance, and sheer determination to get him out of a jam.  But he wasn’t the only popular character to have these traits.

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Superman #1

By Jacobus Dixon

Now what’s better than one story starring Superman? Try four. And that’s exactly what readers got with Superman #1 in June 1939. Ever since he exploded onto the newsstand scene in 1938, Superman was a big seller, and giving the guy his own book was the best way to honor that achievement. As great as his appearances were in Action Comics, fans just couldn’t wait a whole season for only one Superman story. So National gave their readers what they wanted: more Superman!

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Batman No. 27

By Jacobus Dixon

Now as much of a smash that Action Comics #1 was, it was by no means the first comic book cover. And Superman was not the first recurring famous character. Characters like Doc Savage, The Shadow, Slam Bradley (also a Siegel and Shuster creation), Buck Rogers, and Flash Gordon were quite famous already and had their own fan bases to boot. However, none equaled Superman when it came to sales. The simple-but-appealing back-story, combined with amazing powers to take on current societal ills, wrapped in a dynamic costume really stuck out for readers. What happens when you’re digging and strike gold? Well, you’re gonna mine that vein till it’s dry! Which is exactly what National Comics (remember they weren’t DC just yet) were going to do.

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Action Comics #1

By Jacobus Dixon

People say to never judge a book by its cover. Well…in the world of comics, that saying tends to be thrown out the window entirely. Ideally, you buy a comic for the art as much as for the storytelling. However, since comics are a visual medium, the art tends to sometimes overshadow the writing in terms of appeal. As a result, it’s what draws crowds to the work in the first place if it’s a new series with a new creative team. And where’s the best place to showcase this art? Well, on the cover of course! The best covers are the ones that capture a purified form of what the story inside is about, and what ideas, events, and characters are featured. As time’s marched on, we’ve been treated to an amazing amount of incredible covers that have launched the franchises of several popular characters. These covers also helped defined popular culture and launched the careers of many artists and creators and made their niche in the pop world. I would like to take a look at some of these covers and figure out just what it is that makes them so famous (or infamous) in our minds’ eye.

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