So, who else got a copy of this? As it is, and as someone who owned a few tabloid-sized Famous First Editions back in the day, I have nothing but praise for it…
- The production is first-rate. The paper is decently heavy stock, the printing is very clear, and the hardcover binding is designed so the book can be laid out flat, like a kid would have done with the original (or a newspaper comics section) on the floor of an apartment in Hell’s Kitchen in 1935.
- Like the reprints from the 70’s, it includes all the original ads… including what may be the earliest version of “The Insult that made a Man out of Mac”! Yes, Charles Atlas is in here, as are ads for several for-profit training schools offering hope of making one’s way out of the Depression by self-improvement. One of those is for the famed ICS Correspondence Schools, which survives today as the online college Penn-Foster. Another is for Coyne Electrical School, which today is Coyne College in Chicago.
- Unlike the reprints from the 70’s, it has several introductory pieces. One is by the late Dr. Jerry Bails, written by him for the attempted reprint of this book in 2000. Another is by Roy Thomas, who went back nearly this far when he pulled Dr. Occult out of New Fun #6 into the pages of All-Star Squadron in 1985. Then at the back we have a brief piece by @benjamin.leclear, DC’s Archivist who was the driving force behind getting this done, and a much longer entry by Nicky Wheeler-Nicholson, granddaughter of Major Wheeler-Nicholson who founded the magazine and, with it, DC. She provides not only a 2-page text piece on the Major, but also (augmented by DC’s own research) paragraph-length biographies of all of the creators whose work was in the book!
As for the comics themselves, all the stories are 1-pagers with cliffhangers, so they’re hard to judge. Art styles vary widely, ranging from the “funnies” style of “Judge Perkins” or “Loco Luke” to the heavy blacks and detailed drawings of “Sandra of the Secret Service” and “Don Drake on the Planet Saro”. The latter two, particularly, I could see someone picking up today and doing something with them (Don Drake meets Adam Strange, maybe?) The infamous “Oswald the Rabbit” strips that have supposedly blocked republication for years? They’re here, and they’re newspaper daily-style strips that make one wonder what all the fuss was about; there are only maybe half a dozen or so running at the bottom of some of the pages in the first part of the book.
In all, this is not only a fascinating look at DC’s very beginning, but a lot of fun to read. I’d encourage anyone to pick it up and look forward to hearing what others thought of it!