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Golden Age Comic Books And Characters.

Updated on March 5, 2014

Birth Of The Superhero.

The Golden Age Of Comic Books lasted from 1938 - 1950 or even later according to some sources, it was an era that saw not only the birth of Batman and Superman but other household names such as Wonder Woman and Captain America. It was an era that lasted throughout the Second World War and many of the Golden Age comics reflected that fact. It was not just about superhero comics in the Golden Age though, horror comics were king for a while and humor comics were big sellers too. In this article we will take a look at many of the characters and books that made up the Golden Age of comics.

The Spectre makes his debut in More Fun Comics # 52.
The Spectre makes his debut in More Fun Comics # 52.

Beginnings

So many of the superheroes and characters we know and love today made their first appearances in the Golden Age. Here is a list of some of the better known ones.

  1. The Flash
  2. Green Lantern
  3. Captain America
  4. Robin
  5. Captain Marvel / Shazam
  6. Wonder Woman
  7. The Spectre
  8. Batman
  9. Superman
  10. Sub Mariner
  11. Human Torch
  12. Justice Society Of America.
  13. Green Arrow.
  14. Aquaman.
  15. Archie and Betty and Veronica of course.

Superman makes his second cover appearance in Action Comics # 7.
Superman makes his second cover appearance in Action Comics # 7.

The Top Ten Golden Age Books And Their Importance

Here is a list of the top ten most valuable books from the Golden Age and the reason they are so important and valuable.

  1. Action Comics # 1 - The first appearance of Superman.
  2. Detective Comics # 27 - The first appearance of Batman.
  3. Superman # 1 - The first comic book devoted entirely to the adventures of Superman.
  4. All American Comics # 16 - The first appearance of Green Lantern.
  5. Marvel Comics # 1 - The first appearance of the Human Torch ( an android,not the human torch we are familiar with today. )
  6. Batman #1 - The first comic book devoted entirely to the adventures of Batman, this book also featured the debuts of the Joker and Catwoman.
  7. Captain America Comics #1 - The first appearance of Captain America.
  8. Action Comics # 7 - Superman makes his second cover appearance.
  9. Flash Comics # 1 - The first appearance of the Flash.
  10. More Fun Comics # 52 - The first appearance of the Spectre.

Genres

Golden Age comics covered a wide variety of different genres, Superhero, War, Love Stories, Funny Animal and Horror as well as Science Fiction, Detective and Crime, Humor and Teen comics. Jungle stories featuring Jungle girls such as Sheena or Rulah were also popular.

Villains Of The Golden Age

Here is a list of some of the bad guys and girls who made their debuts in the Golden Age Of Comics.

  1. The Joker
  2. Toyman
  3. Mr Mxyzptlk
  4. Two Face
  5. The Red Skull
  6. Catwoman
  7. The Penguin
  8. The Riddler
  9. Baroness Paula Von Gunther
  10. Cheetah
  11. Rose and Thorn.
  12. Vandal Savage
  13. Solomon Grundy
  14. Clayface
  15. Deadshot
  16. Hugo Strange
  17. The Mad Hatter
  18. Scarecrow

A Boy Scout collects paper as part of the war effort.
A Boy Scout collects paper as part of the war effort.

Rarity Of Golden Age Comics

In the UK American comic books were not officially distributed until 1959, a few got over to the UK before then as comic books were often used as ballast on ships and some were given away to local kids by airmen or G.I.s that were based in the UK during the Second World War. In the US they are obviously more often found however they are not as common as they could be due to paper drives initiated by the US Government due to scarcity of paper during the war, many of these rare comics ended up pulped not long after they were printed.

A saucy Phantom Lady cover by Matt Baker.
A saucy Phantom Lady cover by Matt Baker.

Female Golden Age Characters

There were lots of female characters in comic books in the Golden Age here's some of the better known ones.

  1. Millie The Model
  2. Black Canary
  3. Namora
  4. Miss America
  5. Sheena Queen Of The Jungle
  6. Nyoka The Jungle Girl
  7. Rulah Jungle Goddess
  8. Nellie The Nurse
  9. Venus
  10. Blonde Phantom
  11. Lois Lane
  12. Wonder Woman

Comic Books And The War

During the Second World War the war became an increasingly common backdrop to the comic book stories when the USA entered the war. Batman and Superman would battle Nazi infiltrators and even the kids got involved with the Boy Commandos and The Newsboy Legion. Paper shortages meant comics had to be reduced in length and frequency of publication for a while and many comic book creators spent time serving their country in the armed forces.

Superman looks on approvingly as a young lady recognizes the men of the US Armed Forces as real heroes, in Superman issue 29.

Batman and Robin alongside Superman encourage readers to grow their own vegetables to help fend off food shortages during the war, Worlds Finest # 11.

Captain America battles with Hitler himself in Captain America Comics #1.

The patriotic superhero The Shield fights off the Jackboot of Fascism and Japanese Imperialism in Pep Comics # 22, this issue also introduced Archie Andrews, Betty and Jughead.


Creators

Many of the best known comic book artists and writers started their careers in the Golden Age. As well as the aforementioned Siegel and Shuster creators of Superman, there was Bob Kane and Bill Finger, artist and writer of Batman. At Timely Comics ( the forerunner of Marvel ) a young Jack Kirby worked in tandem with Joe Simon to create Captain America. Stan Lee perhaps the best known comic book creator also started his career at Timely, at first performing such mundane tasks as filling the artists ink wells and fetching lunch.

Here is a list of some of the well known comic book creators who's careers began in the Golden Age.

  1. Johnny Craig - Best known for his work EC comics horror line but also drew Iron Man in the 60s.
  2. Carl Barks - Dell Four Color Comics.
  3. Will Eisner - The Spirit
  4. Don Heck - All rounder who go on to draw Iron Man
  5. Wallace Wood - legend for his Daredevil and Avengers work
  6. Matt Baker - Saucy female covers and first black comic book artist
  7. Lee Elias - horror comics
  8. Curt Swan - beloved Superman artist
  9. John Buscema - Marvel stalwart
  10. Dan De Carlo - Best known for work on Archie Comics
  11. Carl Burgos - Created first Human Torch
  12. Alex Shomburg- Amazing early covers
  13. Frank Frazetta - One Of The Greatest Fantasy Artists Ever
  14. Joe Kubert - Brilliant war comic artist
  15. Steve Ditko - Co created Spider-man
  16. Jerry Robinson - created The Joker
  17. L.B.Cole - Brilliant cover artist
  18. Gil Kane - Beloved Silver Age Artist
  19. Bill Everett - Creator of Sub Mariner
  20. Sheldon Moldoff - Creator of Bat Girl and Poison Ivy
  21. Gardener Fox - Batman writer
  22. William Marston - Created Wonder Woman
  23. Lou Fine - The Spirit
  24. Murphy Anderson - Batman and Hawkman
  25. Mort Meskin - Sheena Queen Of The Jungle


The Golden Age

The period 1938 - 1950 is aptly named The Golden Age of comic books. During this period of pre and inter war, comic books served as a cheap and entertaining medium for kids growing up in these years and contrary to the trials of the mid fifties where comic books were put on trial for their content, the comic book probably did more to help combat illiteracy in these years then any other medium. It is astounding that so many of the characters created in the Golden Age remain as popular today as ever over 75 years after they were created, it is a credit to the artists and writers of the age that their legacy not only sustains but continues to grow.

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    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Interesting history of comic books. I grew up in that period. For some reason I was discouraged from reading comics, despite the fact that my father was a wannabe cartoonist.

    • nuffsaidstan profile image
      Author

      nuffsaidstan 3 years ago

      Hi, yes for some reason comic books were sort of looked down upon in those days, i read somewhere that a lot of the artists and writers would even claim to do something else for a living rather than admit they worked in comic books,thanks for the comment.

    • Geekdom profile image

      Geekdom 3 years ago

      Great Hub. I love the information and layout. Learned a lot of interesting things and had an easy time referencing it.

    • nuffsaidstan profile image
      Author

      nuffsaidstan 3 years ago

      Cheers Geekdom, i just wish i could get my hands on a few of these beauties, living in the UK it is very rare to find them although i bought a collection once that had a few Superman in but they were in very bad shape.

    • Colleen Swan profile image

      Colleen Swan 3 years ago from County Durham

      Brilliant article. I remember my dad buying me the "Eagle" Dan Dair, Wow those excited childhood memories. voted up!

    • profile image

      Jayfort 3 years ago

      Great Hub, Nuffsaid! Well done! Voted Up and Awesome.

    • NathaNater profile image

      NathaNater 3 years ago

      Very interesting and well-presented article here. I love comics, old and new. But especially those old ones, just something about them.

    • nuffsaidstan profile image
      Author

      nuffsaidstan 3 years ago

      Thanks Colleen, Jayfort, Nathanater.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 3 years ago from San Diego California

      I love comics, and this has been a very informative lesson. Great hub!

    • nuffsaidstan profile image
      Author

      nuffsaidstan 3 years ago

      Thanks for you comments Mel glad you enjoyed it.

    • jmartin1344 profile image

      jmartin1344 3 years ago from Royal Oak, Michigan

      Great hub! That list of the top 10 comics is great for someone like me who loves to hunt the flea markets! Also the list of creators is something you don't see quite so often!

    • nuffsaidstan profile image
      Author

      nuffsaidstan 3 years ago

      Thanks mate, i hope you can find one of these in a flea market it would be like a little lottery win, unlike the UK these books do exist in the US so good hunting.

    • Robert Pummer profile image

      Robert Pummer 2 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      Great Hub ... I know you put a lot of time into this ... thanks.

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