05/13/2014

1835-1936
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

 
   
1835
 
Jan Nathaniel Hawthorne creates America's first superhero, as The Grey Champion appears in New England Magazine.
1842
Sep Wilson and Company reprints Rudolphe Topfler's The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck.  Believed to be the first comic book published in America.
1867
x Spring-Heeled Jack, a forty part Penny Dreadful begins appearing in London, featuring the possibly true adventures of a man who can walk up walls, leap high into the air and fly like a bat.  A disinherited nobleman, he robs from the rich to give to the poor.
1895
May 5/8/95 Richard F Outcault's The Yellow Kid brings color comic strips to the pages of the New York World.  Reprints of comic strips in book form are issued by many newspapers over the next several decades.
1901
Baroness Orczy writes the Scarlet Pimpernel, the story of a hero of the French aristocracy during the Revolution who disguises himself as an English fop.  The Pimpernel runs on the London stage for 4 years and is a smash hit, prompting an endless series of sequels.

1912
Feb Edgar Rice Burroughs' Under the Moons of Mars begins in Munsey'sAll-Story Magazine (six issues). It features a man who gains super powers by traveling to another planet.
Oct Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan of the Apes appears in Munsey's All-Story Magazine.
1913
May Varick Vanardy (Frederic Van Rensslaer Dey) creates The Night Wind in Munsey's Cavalier.  The Night Wind is Bingham Harvard, a vigilante crime fighter pursued by the law, who possesses super strength and invulnerability.
1914
May Frank L. Packard creates The Grey Seal for Street and Smith's People's Magazine.  Jimmie Dale, a wealthy playboy by day, dons a mask and utility belt to commit crime by night.  He appeared in movies beginning in 1917.
   

1915

 
    Russell Thorndyke publishes Doctor Syn featuring The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh.  Considered a prototype "mystery man". He would return to the character with five more novels in the 1930's and a film in 1937.  Eventually followed by a Disney adaption starring Patrick McGoohan.

1918
Jan 1/27/18 First Tarzan movie is released.
Aug Johnston McCulley's The Curse of Capistrano appears in All Story Weekly. The first adventure of Zorro, mysterious western champion of the oppressed who disguises himself as a Spanish fop is made into a movie starring  Douglas Fairbanks  in 1921.
1922
Frank Armer and Paul Sampliner launch Screenland. It was followed by Artists and Models and other glamor magazines.
Jan Embee Distributing pubishes The Comic Monthly, the first soft cover periodical comic book.  It features newspaper reprints and cost 10 cents.  It was 24 pages long and measured 8 1/2 by 10 inches.  It ran for 12 issues.

1923
Harry Donenfeld buys his brothers out of the Martin Press and renames it Donny Press.  One of his accounts is Armer and Sampliner.
1925
Jul Frank Armer adds Pep to his line featuring "snappy, spicy stories and art".
Oct Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson is cashiered from the US Army and takes to writing adventure pulp stories.  In October he opens the Wheeler-Nicholson newspaper syndicate and attempts to peddle features and comics to newspapers accross the country, including adaptions of Treasure Island and the Three Musketeers.
1926
Apr Amazing Stories, the first science fiction pulp magazine begins from Hugo Gernsback.
Jul Wheeler-Nicholson's syndicate goes bust and he vanishes temporarily, resurfacing as a pulp writer for Adventure and Argosy.

Johnston McCulley's The Crimson Clown begins in Detective Story Magazine.  Delton Prowse robs from the rich and gives to the poor, after deducting half for operating expenses.  The costumed adventurer uses pepper gas and knockout drugs to facilitate his exploits.

1927
May Frank Armer's Thrills, an adventure pulp magazine debuts and runs for at least five issues.
1928
Aug Buck Rogers debuts in Amazing Stories.
1929
Hugo Gernsback publishes Jack Williamson's novel The Girl From Mars, about a scientist who launches his daughter to Earth while Mars is dying.  Williamson was a writer with whom Jerry Siegel corresponded and asked for advice.

Jan 1/7/29- Hal Foster's Tarzan and Dick Calkin's Buck Rogers debut in the comics pages on the same day.  The newspaper pages, previously a home for "gag a  day" features, soon are bursting with adventure continuities.

Dell and Eastern co-publish The Funnies, a weekly tabloid size comic book featuring all new material. It ran for 36 issues.

May Frank Armer begins another legitimate pulp, Airplane Stories which lasts 24 issues.
Aug Aug 10, 1929- Harry Donenfeld decides to make the jump from printing magazines to publishing them. He and Jack Liebowitz form Irwin Publishing which publishes a long string of semi-successful "art" magazines beginning with Juicy Tales (later Joy Stories) and Hot Tales.  Merle Williams Hersey was the editor and "front" for the company. 
1930
Alfred Knopf publishes a dystopian savage parody of science fiction by fledgling slick magazine writer Philip Wylie called Gladiator.  Wylie often claimed that Gladiator was the source of Siegel's Superman inspiration, although Siegel always claimed he'd never read it.
Feb
Aug Michael J Cullen invents the Supermarket in Queens, New York.
1931
Apr Irwin Publishing goes bankrupt, but Donenfeld "sells" his titles to Merwil Publishing, which he also owns. 
Aug Street and Smith launches The Shadow pulp magazine based loosely on their hit radio program.  Walter Gibson writes as Maxwell Grant.

 

 

David McKay publishes the first Mickey Mouse comic, a hardcover collection of newspaper strip reprints.

 
1932
 
Jan  Julius Schwartz and Mort Weisinger publish the first national science fiction fanzine, Time Traveller, becoming the focal point of the burgeoning young science fiction field.
May Donenfeld obtains Pep and Spicy Stories from Frank Armer in exchange for printing debts.
Sep Time Traveller is replaced by Science Fiction Digest after eight issues..
Oct Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster publish their own fanzine, Science Fiction.

Eastern News, the magazine distributor owned by Paul Sampliner and Charles Dreyfus, goes bankrupt, leaving Donenfeld and Armer with no distribution and no money.   Then he and Paul Sampliner create a new distribution company, Independent News, financed by Sampliner's mother, Giselle Frank.

Nov Jerry Siegel publishes the second issue of Science Fiction.  Contrary to rumors circulating to this day it does not contain a review of Phillip Wylie's Gladiator. This was verified by Jerry Weist who went through Forrest Ackerman's complete collection of Siegel's fanzines and found nary a mention of Wylie anywhere.

Dec Western Publishing of Racine Wisconsin releases the first Big Little Book featuring reprints from the Chester Gould's Dick Tracy.  Big Little Books feature one panel per page usually faced with a page of text.  3 5/8" by 4 1/2" by 1 1/2".  320 pages.  Big Little Books soon become widely popular and spawn a number of imitations, some featuring new material.  
   
1933
 
Jan Jerry Siegel publishes :"The Reign of the Superman" in Science Fiction 3.  Following which, he and Joe Shuster develop Superman into a comic strip.
Feb Fran Striker's the Lone Ranger begins on WXYZ radio in Detroit. The success of the program spawns the creation of the Mutual Broadcasting System.

Win Humor Publishing puts out Detective Ace King, Bob Scully- Two Fisted Hick Detective, and Detective Dan, Secret Operative 48, the first all-new comic books.  (91/2x12 tabloid size).  They agree to publish Siegel's Superman but suddenly drop the whole line, leaving Siegel and Shuster with a completed issue and no publisher.  More details about Jerry and Joe's early efforts.
Mar Lester Dent's Doc Savage first appears as a pulp magazine from Street and Smith.

Apr Eastern Color printing produces a tabloid size comic newspaper to be distributed free at Gulf Gas Stations. Gulf Comic Weekly.
 Spr Harry Wildenberg of Eastern Color Printing determines folding the tabloid size used in Gulf Comic Weekly in half produces a useful easy to carry page size on which a full color Sunday funnies page can fit proportionally.  Charlie Gaines begins selling these custom comic books to companies like Proctor and Gamble to use as premiums.  P&G ordered a million copies of Funnies on Parade!
Oct Detective Dan resurfaces as comic strip Dan Dunn.

Black Bat Detective Mysteries publishes the adventures of the Black Bat, a rather nondescript crime fighter written by Murray Lienster, The Black Bat appeared in six issues.

   
1934
 
Jan 1/7/34 Alex Raymond's Flash Gordon begins in the Sunday comics pages.
Win Charlie Gaines puts $.10 stickers on Famous Funnies a Carnival of Comics (originally a Wheetena promotional comic) and sells them out at New York newstands.
 
 

 

Spr Eastern and George Delacourte (Dell) put out Famous Funnies Series One and sell out 40,000 copies in 30 days, but Delacourte pulls out because he can't sell any advertising.
Apr Donenfeld and Frank Armer launch Spicy Detective.
For more about Donenfeld's other magazines and comics, click DC's "Other" Comics.
 
  May H Baker and Jake Geller publish Comic Cuts, a tabloid sized newspaper reprinting material from the British comic paper of the same name.  It lasts for nine weekly issues. Distributed by S-M News Co. (McCalls)
Jul Eastern launches Famous Funnies as a series by themselves.  200,000 copies are distributed by American News. First continuously published successful newsstand comic book, lasting until 1955.
Fal Gaines moves to McClure and puts out Skippy, a premium for Phillips Dental Magnesia.
Nov Sally the Sleuth by Adolphe Barreaux is the first comic strip published in Spicy Detective.  Most of Donenfeld's pulps carry a comic strip after this point.

C. K. M. Scanlon's Black Bat first appears in Popular Detective. Dawson Claude got the idea for his disguise when a bat flew in his window.  Johnston McCaulley is suspected to be the man behind this pseudonym.

Dec John Campbell's "The Mightiest Machine" begins serialization in Astounding Science Fiction. The story of Arn Munroe, a man from Jupiter, who gains super-strength upon visiting Earth.
   
1935
 
  Julie Schwartz and Mort Weisinger form the Solar Sales Agency and become the first literary agents in the science fiction magazine world.  Although Mort leaves early on, Julie's client list soon includes Alfred Bester, H. P. Lovecraft and Ray Bradbury.
  Feb Pulp writer Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson starts National Allied Magazines and puts out New Fun Comics #1.  Second successful continuously published newsstand comic, lasting until 1947). A 10 X15 black and white collection of mostly original comic strips.  Edited by Lloyd Jacquet.  Each  feature is one page or less, so there are 20 features in the first issue. including Sandra of the Secret Service, Don Drake on the Planet Saro, and Barry O'Neil. Distributed by McCall's. (S-M, the S stands for Popular Science.)  McCalls may have financed Nicholson after the failure of Comic Cuts, reasoning that American material and monthly publication might have a greater chance of success.  Printed by the Brooklyn Eagle.

Apr Starting with New Fun 3, some interior pages are printed in color.
May New Fun #4. After this issue there is a two month gap in publishing.
Jun Kay Kamen (K.K. Publications) releases the first issue of Mickey Mouse Magazine.  Runs until September 1940.  Although primarily text, it carries newspaper strip reprints.
Aug By New Fun 5 Jacquet has left the company and Wheeler-Nicholson  is listed as editor. The magazine is increased to 44 pages, but loses its slick paper coversNow printed by World Color Press in St. Louis.
Oct New Fun 6 contains Siegel and Shuster's first work: Henri Duvall & Dr.  Occult.  There is a three month gap before the next issue.
 
Dec Nicholson expands, adding New Comics.  The third continuously published newsstand comic book, lasting until 1983. Edited by William Cook and John Mahon; Vin Sullivan Asst ed.  This book is done in the new, smaller Famous Funnies size (7 1/2 X 10 1/2),  The early issues (1-5) were  80 pages long, but still sold  for $.10 due to the smaller size.  All had newsprint covers.   Although some stories are up to 4 pages long, the first issue still features 23 separate strips.

The introductory page trumpets "adventuring heroes, detectives, aviator daredevils of today and hero supermen of the days to come."

Issues 1-4 feature Mr. Weed and J Worthington Blimp by Sheldon Mayer before he leaves because he doesn't get paid. 

   
1936
 

Jan 1/36 Sheldon Mayer goes to work for Charlie Gaines, packaging comic books for the McClure Syndicate..

New Fun becomes More Fun Comics with #7 and acquires a new publisher, More Fun Inc. (actually still Nicholson). 7-8 are still tab sized- but shorter, 10X12 (almost square) 44 pages, paper covers) . 

New Comics #2- Siegel & Shuster start Federal Men.

1/31/36 Fran Striker's The Green Hornet begins on WXYZ radio in Detroit.  A spin-off of the Lone Ranger, the Hornet, accompanied by his chauffer Kato, fought crime in a powerful automobile known as the Black Beauty.

Feb More Fun #8 Cook and Mahon have left the company and Wheeler-Nicholson is listed as editor, with Vin Sullivan and Whitney Ellsworth as assistants.

Gaines packages Popular Comics for Dell. The fourth successful newsstand comic.  Sheldon Mayer is his editor.  Popular Comics was followed by The Funnies  (Oct 1936) and The Comics (March 1937).  Newspaper reprints included Skippy, Mutt and Jeff, Believe It or Not, Reg'lar Fellers and others.

2/17/36  Lee Falk's the Phantom begins in the newspapers.  In the beginning he appears to be an urban crimefighter but the strip quickly refocuses to a mysterious tropical island.  The Phantom may be the first character ever to sport the ubiquitous tights and two-tone pants that mystery-men every where would soon don.

Mar Big Book of Fun Comics (1st annual-48pgs reprints from New Fun 1-4). Distributed only through F. W. Woolworths.

Apr More Fun #9- now 7 1/2 x10 1/2 and 68 pages, still with paper covers, dated March-April 1936.

United Features enters the comic book market with Tip-Top Comics, edited by Lev Gleason.

David McKay, long a publisher of newspaper reprint collections, enters the periodical market with King Comics.  These are the fifth and sixth successful newsstand comics.

king

  May More Fun #10

Former National editors William Cook and John Mahon strike out on their own and publish Comics Magazine, financed by magazine distributor Kable. Many former National Allied strips appear here under new names. Two new Siegel and Shuster strips debut, Dr. Mystic and Federal Agent.  Each only makes one appearance however, with the Dr. Mystic storyline being folded into Doctor Occult starting in More Fun #14, and Federal Agent eventually continuing as Spy in Detective Comics

Jun New Comics #5. It is apparent that Cook and Mahon's raids on the Nicholson staff gathered more than just some leftover artwork.  William Allison has been replaced on Captain Bill (now Captain Jim) by Homer Fleming.  R. G. Leffingwell  has been replaced on Sagebrush and Cactus (now Cal and Alec), Sir Loin of Beef (now Don Coyote) and on It's a Dern Lie by Bill Patrick.    R. H. Livingstone, artist on Wheeler-Nicholson's Vikings has been replaced by Alex Blum.  Matt Curson has taken Dickie Duck and Freddie Bell with him to Cook and Mahon, where Allison and Leffingwell are doing renamed versions of their old strips.  Ellis Edwards, Al Stahl and Tom Cooper continue working for both companies
July New Comics #6 is 68 pages, now published by Nicholson Publishing Co.

Siegel and Shuster's Calling All Cars, later known as Radio Squad, begins a long run More Fun 11.

Sheldon Mayer's  Scribbly debuts in Popular Comics #6 from Dell. 

Aug More Fun Comics 12 and New Comics 7 are the first Wheeler-Nicholson publications since New Fun 4 to feature glossy paper covers, now printed by Harry Donenfeld's Donny Press.

Jack Schiff, editor at Standard Publications hires Mort Weisinger.  Standard is a pulp magazine company which publishes Thrilling Wonder Stories, Captain Future and the Phantom Detective.  Weisinger begins targetting those magazines towards a younger audience by putting monsters and giant turtle-men on the covers.

Sep
Oct Siegel and Shuster rework the unpublished second chapter of Dr. Mystic into a Dr. Occult story line.  Mystic/Occult now wears a cape and flies.  More Fun Comics 14-17.
Nov More Fun 15-31 published by Nicholson Publishing Company. 

Sheldon Mayer's Scribbly moves to The Funnies #2 from Dell after three appearances in Popular Comics.

Dec New Comics 11 includes ads for Detective Comics #1 cover dated December 1936,  The book would be postponed and actually debut 3 months later.
   
 Bibliography
       
All characters and artwork copyright by DC Comics Inc.