Said framing sequence revealed that all of the various heroes in the book were actually part of a single superhero team known as the Justice Society of America. For years, the Justice Society parts of the book only worked as a framing sequence to set up the solo stories, but eventually the book began telling full-length Justice Society stories.
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Since All-American was technically its own company Gaines would sell his interest in the company to National Allied in and then form EC Comics , this was not only the first superhero team but also the first intercompany crossover, two ideas that have subsequently been used to death and beyond. But they became best known for their spectacular double-page spreads, which, if they did not invent, they certainly perfected, beginning with this tale in Captain America Comics No. Two-page spreads are now not only commonplace, but de rigueur.
Writer, penciler, and inker: Walt Kelly. Kelly and Pogo would enjoy even greater success in newspaper funnies pages, the rare instance of a comic- book character that became more popular in comic- strip form.
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William Moulton Marston, co-creator of Wonder Woman. A psychologist and contributor to the invention of the lie detector, Marston was, to put it mildly, an interesting individual. This was the result: Wonder Woman, written by Marston under a pseudonym and drawn by veteran illustrator Harry Peter.
Here we have no less than three forms of bondage on one page: wrist and ankle shackles, chained to the wall by the neck, and, most imaginatively, getting sewn up inside a punching bag. Lest you think we picked this page for pure sensationalism, rest assured that this was a pretty typical early Wonder Woman adventure. One later Marston tale had no less than 75 bondage panels in it. After Marston died of cancer in , the creators who inherited Wonder Woman would scrub out all the kink. It all started because fashion illustrator and cartoonist June Mills broke her foot.
While laid up, Mills doodled out ideas for an adventure comic strip with a heroine modeled on herself, who had a cat sidekick very much like her own pet Peri Purr. Our hero, Marla Drake, is a socialite turned nocturnal ass-kicker when she apprehends a gangster while en route to a costume party. Writer, penciler, and inker: John Terrell.
This was the sort of thing that was on Orrin C. Evans had been working at the Philadelphia Record since the early s, where he had made history by becoming the first African-American reporter to be on staff as a general reporter at a mainstream white-run newspaper. The outlet went out of business in , following a strike, so Evans teamed up with a few of his Record co-workers to address what he felt was missing in the comic-book world: strong, positive depictions of African-Americans.
While each of the artists likely wrote their own strips, Evans oversaw the whole endeavor and made sure that all of the heroes be depicted non-stereotypically. Sadly, when Evans went to produce a second issue, the company that sold him the paper for the first issue was no longer willing to sell to him — nor would any other paper company.
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He spent the rest of his life working in journalism. Today, Jack Kirby is known best as a superhero artist. It gave Kirby and his business partner Joe Simon a life raft at a moment when superheroes were languishing and everything was up for grabs — a moment when comic-book sales were soaring but books about costumed derring-do were old hat.
Romance comics, introduced by Simon and Kirby with this story in , became more than a genre — they were a sensation. Romance enabled Simon and Kirby to buy houses in the suburbs, and for a decade kept Kirby busier than all the other genres he worked in combined. The story is punchy and exhilarating. Simon and Kirby so liked the protagonist that they brought her back for a sequel in issue No. Though endlessly mocked see the arch Pop Art paintings by Roy Lichtenstein and other spoofs , the best of the romance comics, like Young Romance No.
Writer, penciler, and inker: Jack Cole.
It was a best seller written by psychiatrist Fredric Wertham, who argued that the admittedly lurid crime comics clogging the newsstands of America were the direct cause of a spike in juvenile crime. The book reprinted countless panels of mayhem and extremely male-gaze-y women. It has no counterpart in any other literature of the world, for children or adults. Or Oedipus Rex? Dozens of publishers went out of business and the onerous Comics Code was established.
Cole, after becoming one of the original Playboy cartoonists, committed suicide in , and he left a legacy of dynamic pencils and layouts that could delight as well as terrify. Arnold Drake is best known for co-creating the original Guardians of the Galaxy for Marvel and Doom Patrol and Deadman for DC, but in he was going to college thanks to the GI Bill and picking up extra cash writing comics scripts. Basically, he had come up with the graphic novel as we know it today.
Rust masterminds Dallas- style shenanigans in fictitious Copper City, playing her myriad rivals and pawns off of each other and slapping around her goody-two-shoes stepdaughter. A sharp dresser — here he is with Lust publisher Archer St.
It helped that the story was also utterly hilarious. The subtext showed that by rejecting girls and women, the boys were cutting off an essential part of their own humanity. Crumb to Daniel Clowes and beyond.
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He used that gift dramatically in his war comics for EC, and humorously, with sudden, absurd gags to break up the rhythms, in his greatest gift to EC, the satirical Mad. It reduces the genre of the war story to an elemental hand-to-hand fight between two unnamed soldiers, one American, one North Korean. The tale starts with the American musing about how remote and clinical warfare has become, but he is proven wrong when the North Korean, hungry and desperate, attacks. Remarkably, this harsh fable was published during the Korean War itself; this issue would have been released in about September or October of , during a protracted and bloody stalemate in the War.
Yet his thematic content also made waves: the underground comix generation, notably R. Writer and penciler: Carl Barks. McDuck was the creation of Carl Barks, an immensely imaginative cartoonist whose young adulthood spent working in various 19th-century professions — including cowboy and mule driver — left him with an appreciation for adventure and a firsthand knowledge of greed and stupidity.
After becoming an animator at Disney, Barks discovered his greatest talent was as a cartoonist, and for 24 years he chronicled the Duck family and the world of Duckburg with shrewd characterizations that played up the foibles of human nature. Scrooge evolved from a penny-pinching miser befitting his Dickensian name to a more comedic and occasionally even good-hearted uncle to that shiftless slacker, Donald. Crumb names him as a major influence. By , Harvey Kurtzman and Wally Wood had been working for EC Comics for a few years, turning out serious war epics, thought-provoking science-fiction stories, and satirical and gory horror morality plays.
Then came issue No.
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After a wild battle with Captain Marbles who has become a villain , the triumphant Superduperman figures he can use his newfound glory to woo Lois. It also parodies the copyright-infringement lawsuit that the publishers of Superman, National, filed and won against the publishers of Captain Marvel a few years earlier. National threatened to file a lawsuit against EC Comics for the parody, but they never went through with it. Mad continues to this day, outlasting its many imitators and still making fun of everything.
When Maxwell C. Gaines, founder of Educational Comics, died in a boating accident in , his college-student son William M. Gaines inherited the company. Max was reportedly abusive toward Bill, and in a bit of posthumous revenge, Bill took EC in a new direction with violent, irreverent titles like Tales from the Crypt, in which abusers get their comeuppance in spectacularly gory fashion. Stephen King featured the story in his terrific survey of the horror genre, Danse Macabre , and infamous anti-comics crusader of the s Dr.
Fredric Wertham gave the page you see here a no less prominent, albeit less flattering, position in his best-selling Seduction of the Innocent.
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Note how Severin chooses to paint the goriest scenes in only two colors, to lessen the visceral shock while simultaneously allowing for all the gruesome details fans craved. The page, powerful but perhaps unremarkable to the modern comics reader, may be the single most analyzed page in comics history. It had a strong influence on Art Spiegelman — who wrote about it for the New Yorker — and Frank Miller, who frequently mentions it in interviews.
The story involves Reissman, a former concentration-camp guard, who sees one of his victims on a New York subway and falls to his death trying to escape him. Although today these devices are established comics vocabulary, they were utterly revolutionary in their time and inspired countless artists who came after to experiment with their own storytelling. When the comic-book industry banded together to form the Comics Code Authority in September , EC Comics publisher William Gaines believed that the new rules were effectually designed to hurt his company.
So it was replaced with a reprint of a classic Weird Fantasy story. He has to turn them down because blue robots were treated worse than orange robots for no reason. As he flies away in his ship, he takes his helmet off and we see that he is black. The Comics Code would not allow the story unless the astronaut was recolored to be white.
Writer Al Feldstein was outraged and so was Gaines. They threatened a lawsuit. Eventually, the Code relented and the story was published as originally drawn. However, this was the clear sign that EC Comics could not work within the parameters set by the Code, so Gaines ceased his comic-book production, concentrating instead on his popular humor magazine, Mad , which skirted regulations because it was technically a magazine. EC are sometimes accused of being shock merchants, but this page reminds us that they were also idealists.
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