8/15/11

 

1956-59
This is an attempt to list significant events in the history of DC Comics in as chronological order as possible.  Most dates are the cover dates from the comics themselves.  It should be recognized that these dates tend to be two months after the actual release date.  Other dates come from various published sources and have varying degrees of precision.  Everything is relative. No attempt is made to list everything that ever happened.  More detailed information is contained in the various works cited in the bibliography.  Non-DC comics events listed are included because of their relevance to the history of DC Comics, not to their own companies.  An attempt has been made to refer to the company by the appropriate name in each time period.  This is not an attempt to explain super-hero continuity.  There are other web sites that do that.  All opinions given are mine and probably can't be changed.  Factual errors will be thankfully corrected. Comments
1835-1936
1956-1959
1966-1969
1976-1979
 1986-1989
1996-1999
1937-1945
1960-1965
1970-1975
1980-1985
 1990-1995
2000-2005
1946-1955
 Piranha
DC's "other" comics
Vertigo
Paradox
 
 
1956
 
Jan 
EC's Incredible Science Fiction cancelled 
Feb 
With the demise of the EC line and most other horror mags, National feels there’s room for more of its own code-approved mystery books.  Jack Schiff’s Tales Of The Unexpected begins as a companion to House of Mystery. My Greatest Adventure also takes a turn towards the weird.
Mar 
Showcase begins as a rotating attempt to find out what will actually sell in the post-code marketplace.  Each feature gets a one issue tryout.  The emphasis is on realistic adventure books at first, with Firefighters, Frogmen,  and the Call of the Wild.

Whitney Ellsworth asks Sheldon Mayer to create two new children's titles to breathe life into the dying line of cartoon books.  Sugar and Spike and Three Mouseketeers are the result.

 

Apr 
EC's Pictofiction line cancelled (Terror Illustrated 1-2-11/55, Crime Illustrated 1-22-11/55, Shock Illustrated 1-3-9/55 Confessions Illustrated (2 issues) 
May 
Jun 
Jackie Gleason & The Honeymooners is Nationals’ first licensed title based on a TV show.  All the previous ones have been based on radio programs or movies.
Jul 
EC's distributor, Leader News goes bankrupt- Gaines switches distributors to American (Mad 28).

Ed Hamilton’s Batwoman appears in Detective 233, possibly created in response to a Martin and Lewis movie, Artists and Models (1955) which features a character called the Bat Lady.  Silver Age of comics begins?

All American Men of War 35 features a washtone cover by Jerry Grandenetti and Jack Adler.  The first of many spectacular covers which appear to be "painted".  Most of them appear on war comics.
 

Aug 
Sep 
National revives the Flash in response to Sterling's Captain Flash comic book.  The book is intended as a one shot, but editor Julius Schwartz decides to completely revamp the character, rather than just continuing the previous version.   Robert Kanigher and John Broome write and Carmine Infantino and Joe Kubert draw.  Showcase 4 sells better than expected, so a follow-up issue is scheduled for the next year. 

Official Overstreet Price Guide endorsed start of the Silver Age of Comics.

Sept 21, 1956 Abraham Menin, DC lawyer and trustee, dies.

Oct 
Nov 
Jack Schiff’s House Of Secrets, National’s last mystery/anthology title of the fifties, begins. 

The Davy Crocket boom ends as quickly as it began as Frontier Fighters (#8) and  Legends Of Daniel Boone are cancelled (#8)

11/1/1956 Martin Goodman shuts down Atlas distribution and moves his comics to American News. (Alter Ego 49)

Dec 
Harvey Kurtzman quits Mad to start Trump.  Al Feldstein takes over with issue 30 featuring Alfred E Neuman on the cover for the first time?.
 
 
1957 
 
Jan 
Quality Comics goes out of business.  National acquires Blackhawk (108), Robin Hood Tales (7), GI Combat (44) and Heart Throbs (108)  (which they assign to Arleigh) and the rights to Plastic Man although they have no intention of using them.

Showcase changes to two issue tryouts.  Joe Simon and Jack Kirby’s Challengers of the Unknown is the first, originally put together for their defunct Mainline Comics. 

Ruth Brant becomes romance editor. 
Mar 
Apr 
Romance comics now have bullet that says National Romance Group..

4/25/57 Dell leaves American News and sets up its own distribution system.

May 
TV licensing continues as Sgt. Bilko is added to the lineup.

5/6/57 Dell files an anti-trust suit agains American News.

5/17/57 American News closes down its distribution business. (Alter Ego 49)

Jun 
Mort Weisinger tries out a book-length story in Superman 113, touted as a "3 part novel!".

6/17/1957 Martin Goodman signs a distribution with Independent News allowing him to publish 8 comics a month in addition to his magazine line. (Alter Ego 49) 

Jul 
Lois Lane has a two issue try out in Showcase.

Tales of the Unexpected 15 sports an Adler wash cover- the first outside the war titles.
 

Unexpected 15

Aug 
Tales of the Unexpected is converted into an SF title.
Sep 
Jack Kirby creates the DNA Project, Mobius Chair, and Kamandi’s world for Harvey's Alarming Tales #1.
Oct 
Oct 4, 1957 Russians launch Sputnik, 1st earth orbiting satellite, prompting science fiction revival in America (which National seems to have anticipated).

National's Independent News begins distributing EC's Mad with issue 35 due to the collapse of American News.

Buzzy cancelled (#76).

National begins canceling their line of kids comics beginning with Dodo and Frog (92), Nutsy Squirrel (72) and the Raccoon Kids (64).  Last few issues of these titles came out very sporadically.

Nov 
Adventures Of Dean Martin And Jerry Lewis renamed Adventures Of Jerry Lewis (#41) after the breakup of the famed comedy team.
Dec 
 
 
1958 
 
Jan 
Phyllis Reed becomes romance editor.

Detective Comics 251 begins a string of "aliens vs Batman" stories generally looked down upon by fans today.
 

Feb 
Tomahawk starts to get weird as he battles "The Lost Tribe of Tiny Warriors" (54) and four issues later, there’s a dinosaur on the cover.
Mar 
Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane gets her own title, the first Showcase tryout to make the grade. 

Flash is brought back for a two issue try out in Showcase (13-14).

Big Town cancelled (#50)
Robin Hood Tales cancelled (#14)
 

Apr 
Jack Kirby's Challengers Of The Unknown gets its own title.

Jackie Gleason And The Honeymooners cancelled (#12) as the tv series ends.

Otto Binder's Legion of Super Heroes first appears in Adventure Comics #247.

My Greatest Adventure pushes science fiction (20)
 

May 
The New Adventures Of Charlie Chan begins, based presumably on the popularity of tv reruns.  Julie Schwartz edits, but the book only lasts six issues.

Ross Andru takes over the art inside Wonder Woman from Harry G. Peter (98).

Jun 
Sgt. Bilko's Pvt. Doberman begins, a spin-off from the popular tv show.

Once All-American's best -selling title, National determines Mutt & Jeff is getting long in the tooth and allows the rights  to expire. (103) Harvey picks them up and continues it to 1965.

Jul 
Space Ranger debuts in Showcase 15.  One of two series co-created by Ed Hamilton and Gardner Fox, at the request of the editiorial staff who wanted one future series and one contemporary one.

Jack Kirby takes over the art on Green Arrow in Adventure 250.

Otto Binder creates Brainiac and Kandor in Action 242
 

Aug 
Peter Panda cancelled (#31).

House of Secrets turns towards science fiction, with a Kirby cover even (11).
 

Sep 
Letters pages begin to appear, starting with Superman 124.  The change over from two page text stories to readers' letters is gradual, as some editors, notably Kashdan and Boltinoff are resistant to the concept.  Weisinger and Schwartz embrace letters pages and use them to guage reader preferences.  Fans use the letters pages to contact each other and "organized" fandom is born.  The interaction of fans and professionals brings about the Silver Age of Comics.

Otto Binder turns Jimmy Olsen into  Elastic Lad in Jimmy Olsen 31.  No sign of Plastic Man, though.

Oct 
Leave It To Binky cancelled (#60).

House of Mystery takes a decided turn towards science fiction.

Matt Savage Trail Boss debuts in Western 77

First comic book appearance of Bizarro in Superboy 68, based on the Superman newspaper strip story by Alvin Schwartz.

Dinosaurs appear on the cover of Tomahawk 58!

Nov
Ed Hamilton's and Gardner Fox's Adam Strange follows Space Ranger in Showcase 17.  Tryouts are now extended to three issues.
Dec 
Gang Busters cancelled (#58).

National moves to 575 Lexington Ave.

National published 410 books in 1958, a number that would not be reached again until 1983.  Cutbacks continue to decrease the size of the line until 1962.

 
 
1959 
 
Jan 
Mr. District Attorney cancelled (#67).

The ultimate DC Gorilla strip is created, as Robert Bernstein converts Whitnery Ellsworth's hackneyed Congo Bill into Congorilla in Action 248.

Feb 
National finally decides to take the plunge and Flash Comics is revived (#105), renamed The Flash.  The 29 month gap between first appearance in Showcase and first issue is the longest in the series' history.  Beginning of the Silver Age?

Jack Miller(?) creates Lady Blackhawk in Blackhawk 133.
 

Mar 
Robert Kanigher’s Gunner and Sarge begins in All American Men of War 67.  First continuing characters in the war comics. They appear twice, then move to Our Fighting Forces 45, May 59.

Whitney Ellsworth no longer listed as editor of all titles.  Actual editors listed from this point onwards.  Mort Weisinger takes over editing the back features in Adventure and Action from George Kashdan.

Mort Weisinger states in the Superboy 71 letters page, that there will be no more anachronisms in Superboy stories.  They will accurately reflect the world of the early thirties.

Apr 
Robert Kanigher's Wonder Girl is revived in Wonder Woman 105, 75 issues after her last appearance. 

According to E. Nelson Bridwell, "Superman vs the Futuremen" in Superman 128 is the last "Earth 2" story, because the plot precludes the existence of Superboy.

The DC Line Up and Editorial Breakdown Post -Whitney Ellsworth

 
Mort Weisinger
Jack Schiff (with George Kashdan and Murray Boltinoff)
Larry Nadel
Julius Schwartz
Action 

Adventure 
Jimmy Olsen 
Lois Lane 
Superboy 
Superman
Batman 

Blackhawk 
Challengers of the Unknown 
Detective 
House of Mystery 
House of Secrets 
My Greatest Adventure 
Tales of the Unexpected 
Tomahawk 
World's Finest
Adventures of Bob Hope 

A Date With Judy 
Flippity and Flop 
Fox and Crow 
Pvt Doberman 
Real Screen Comics 
Sgt Bilko 
Sugar and Spike 
Three Mouseketeers
Adventures of Rex, the          Wonder Dog 

All Star Western 
Flash 
Hopalong Cassidy 
Mystery In Space 
Strange Adventures 
Western
Phyllis Reed
Robert Kanigher
 
Falling In Love 

Girls' Love Stories 
Girls' Romances 
Heart Throbs 
Secret Hearts
All American Men of War 

Brave and Bold 
GI Combat 
Our Army At War 
Our Fighting Forces 
Star Spangled War Stories 
Wonder Woman

May 
Otto Binder's Supergirl begins in Action Comics #252.

Tommy Tommorow moves to World's Finest, replacing Tomahawk..

Hopalong Cassidy cancelled (#135).

Bill Finger creates Bat-Mite in Detective 267

Jack Miller's Rip Hunter, Time Master begins in Showcase 20.

Jun 
George Reeves dies.

Sgt Rock series  begins in Our Army at War 83.

Jul 
Real Screen Comics renamed TV Screen Comics (#129).

Jack Kirby leaves National after Challengers #8 due to a dispute with editor Jack Schiff over the Sky Masters comic strip.  He freelances among  a number of comic companies before finally settling at Marvel.

Wonder Girl begins a string of cover appearances on Wonder Woman 107.

Mort Weisinger begins to experiment with continued stories starting with a Bizarro two-parter in Action 254-5.

Aug 
Jack Miller and Mort Meskin’s Mark Merlin debuts in House of Secrets 23.

Madamoiselle Marie begins in Star-Spangled War 84.

Adam Strange and Space Ranger aren't arwarded their own books after their Showcase stints but they do get the lead spots in Mystery In Space 53 and Tales of the Unexpected 40.

Superman's golden age pest,  Mxyzptlk is revived with a slightly different name in Superman 131, presumably because no one could remember how to spell it.

Joe Simon brings super-heroes back to the Archie Company with the Adventures of the Fly and the Double Life of Private Strong.  Jack Kirby contributes a few pages.

Sep 
Pat Boone gets his own comic book as National tries to cash in on the Teen rock n' roll boom.  The book is more a fan magazine than a comic book.  Despite heavy promotion in the romance titles, it is put out of its misery after five issues.

Finally convinced that super-heroes might be making a comeback, National allows John Broome and Gil Kane to recreate Green Lantern in Showcase 22.  Julie Schwartz edits.  The new version is science-fiction rather than magical.

National continues to go to the dogs as- Pooch is added to the cast of  Gunner and Sarge in Our Fighting Forces 49.

Oct 
Otto Binder uses a super -computer to project what Superman's life would have been like if " Krypton Lives On!" in Superman 132, a prototype of the imaginary story.

First appearance of Super Monkey in Superboy 76. 

Nov 
Jerry Siegel returns to write for National again with two stories in Superman 133.

Adventures Of Rex The Wonder Dog cancelled (#46)

After 4 years of keeping his existence a secret the Martian Manhunter’s presence is revealed to the world in Detective 273.

Dec 
The Flash gains a protege when Kid Flash debuts in Flash 110.
Bibliography

 

 
All characters and artwork copyright by DC Comics Inc.