To the comic book historians who have read the original DC comics and Superman and Batman comics from 1935 to 1940, how mature themed are they compared to the ones from the 50s and 60s?
By the 1950s, do you mean the early 1950s–when EC was at its height–or do you mean the post-CCA 1950s?
Early Batman is quite readable. It is just a more pulp type Batman, much more violent.
When Robin is introduced in Detective 38 the tone shifts, so by the time Batman 7 appears, Batman changes from a vigilante hunted by the police to an honorary member of the police force.
Early Superman … is odd. It feels like there was no editorial influence, so Jerry Siegel was writing whatever is in his head. He was trying out a completely new genre in a media that was new by itsself. So rich people are put in a mine in one story and in another a scammer pretends he has rights to Superman to make a profit.
Detective 27 to 38 and the first couple of issues of Superman would give anybody a good idea of the early adventures of Batman and Superman.
Other 40s comics like All Star Comics with the Justice Society lack the energy of the above titles and are very hard to enjoy or even read.
Wonder Woman is unique almost dream like where the author blends feminist theory with his own theory of submission and dominance. The costumes worn by the characters are often bizarre especially in comparison to other comics where everybody but the heroes wore regular clothes of the era.
Early Batman and Superman are in general more readable than 1956 to early 1960s DC Flash Green Lantern and Justice League. However those titles are way better than the Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane titles of the same era which are often rather silly. For the Julie Schwartz edited titles look at the cover. If the cover looks like fun, it is.
In general.Flash comics with Golden Age Flash, Elongated man, Green.Lantern and many of the Rogues are quite readable.
I reread early Green Lantern recently and it was nowhere as enjoyable as they were when I was a child. Carol Ferris is not portrayed as a competent executive but just wants Green Lantern. The Alaskan sidekick is called Pieface and stereotyped.
There are some good issues in early Justice League but only Flash and Green.Lantern shine, with their imaginative set of powers. Aquaman is useless and Fox doesnt understand the powers of Martian Manhunter. Wonder Woman glides through the air or uses her invisible jet and has super strength and the golden lasso and a very unflattering costume. Batman.and Superman rarely show up because their editors did not want them to be used in the title. When Superman appears the kryptonite appears because otherwise he could solve any problem in a page.
Having only really read a handful of those early Golden Age exploits (and almost exclusively Batman and Superman stories), I would say that they are much more violent than the 50’s/60’s stories which were heavily monitored by the Comics Code.
Also, the adventures were more mature in that the heroes did not fight against the forces of whimsical aliens or pranksters, but rather jewel thieves, kidnappers, murderers, etc. I’ll even echo what @TurokSonOfStone1950 said about the Batman stories of those early days, in that he truly was a pulp hero. In fact, Batman’s most high profile fights were against vampires, mad scientists, cursed idols, and barely a handful of colorful rogues who still really just cared about stealing jewels from rich people.
I really love those early Superman stories, they’re so wonderfully weird. Superman is less a fighter of planetary threats and supervillains than a champion of social change. I think every Superman fan should read Action Comics #1-12.
Yes, I thought that my favorite take on the character was Fleischer’s until I managed to read those early Siegel/Shuster issues. Grant Morrison seemed to get it, too, as he showed in his own Action Comics #1. (On a side note, I want more T-shirt vigilante Superman!)
@TurokSonOfStone1950 @Batman0803 @HubCityQuestion So were the original DC, Superman and Batman comics from 1935 to around 1940 really start out as for kids? This topic has been bugging me for a long time now. People say that but, it kind of hard to believe. But if they were then Frank Miller and Alan Moore have some explaining to do.
Oh, the market was definitely geared towards children at the time. But Frank Miller and Alan Moore aren’t to blame for the shift. They were already riding the wave of backlash against a Comics Code Authority which had been limiting what people could do in comics for decades. You’d have to look back to the 70s for that wave of mature mainstream DC comics.
This was the dawn of comic book
Comic strips were very popular. Creators of Flash Gordon Tarzan and Lil Abner were famous wealthy with covers on Time Magazine… Everybody read them, adults and children, male and female.
Siegel and Shuster created Superman as a comic strip when they were nineteen before comic books ever existed.
The early Superman storres were repasting of the original comic strip they were Not done under a work for hire agreement.
Therefore early Superman was for all ages.
The first Batman story was based on a story from the Shadow. Pulps were for adults.
Please look at the following link to an article I wrote. See what the influences of Batman and Superman were and see if the words kids or children were ever mentioned.
Chiming in to add another layer: Comics were also highly popular with soldiers overseas during wartime, which influenced the culture and direction of comics during WWII (basically the same time comics came to exist in mainstream); not exclusively for children, certainly started that way; but found themselves new audience and purpose not long after hitting the scene.
Over in the history club for the Golden Age Robin was a definite link.on.the readership of comic books
There are really several.factors here
Who the creators of these heroes were writing for? That is everybody
Who was the primary audience who actually read these titles? Children.
How did the Editors Publishers and General Public do when they knew the material was read by kids do? Make it more kid friendly. Tone down the violence so parents will let kids read comics.
How did adult creators in.the 1970s and later react to the original 11 early Batman stories in Detective 27 to 37? They liked that approach better than the current one and tried to emulate it.
I don’t think there is more to say about this. It is not rocket science or complicated
Whatever O Neil Miller and Moore think about what the audience of early comic books were is irrelevant. They weren’t around at the time and did no research except maybe read the old stories if the stories were available to them. O’Neil sometimes says he went to the DC library and read them. I don’t know about the others. They may have just been reacting to the works of O’Neil or just read the Doc Savage and Shadow pulp novels that were being republished at the time.
@TurokSonOfStone1950 So I guess most of the answers I get when I ask about this is based on opinions. Which is why I always get different answers and different sources say different things that fits their point of view. And there’s not that many people from 1938 these days.
You are correct
They are merely opinions by people who weren’t around at all in the 1930s and 1940s.
@TurokSonOfStone1950 Mazzuchelli wrote this essay at the end of the Batman Year One graphic novel. Is this just his opinion or something else?
It is a piece that takes panels from actual comic books and uses them very unfairly.
There is a panel of Catwoman from Batman 1 in 1940.
Next to it is Baby Batman from
Batman Vol 1 #147 May, 1962
Baby Batman is NOT in any way representative of comics in that era and is twenty two years later but the layout implies a more rapid pace.
Just by doing that, he lost all my respect and is not a valid commentator on the subject because he knows the dates that every panel came from and doesn’t reveal these facts.
@TurokSonOfStone1950 it says in the article on the link that children were the first readers of comics books, and the Detective comics attracted a young adult audience. Were the very first comic books like the Funnies and stuff for kids and when the mystery detective comics appealed to young adults they put characters like Doc Savage and the Shadow into comics for the older audiences? Or were they all for all audiences and some just skewed more to kids and some to adults? Like how superheroes were for all audiences but skewed more to kids
Maybe you should watch
Secret Origins History of DC Comics because I am repeating from there.
The first comic books WERE the Funnies, reprints of the actual comic strips in the newspaper. Since they were popular strips they cost money.
Then a former mililitary guy created More Fun Comics in 1935 using the same types of stories as in.the popular strips but with original content.
Pretty soon Siegel and Shuster was writing various characters for this company, which eventually became DC. Not Superman because nobody wanted it.
Then two guys bought out the first guy. One was involved in Spicy Pulps and almost got sent to jail. The other was a business type.
If you look at the early covers that didn’t feature Superman in. Action
Comics, you can see what types of story Action.Comics had westerns, science fiction, etc just like many pulp topics and popular comic strips…
Eventually it was clear that Superman and Batman were selling and these heroes appeared on.every cover, but that took.a while
It is not that Doc Savage and Shadow were not later in comic books. They were but mainly they were in the pulps or radio
It was that the creators of Batman and Superman saw what was popular in silent films, radio, pulps and comic strips and used elements of all of the above to create their characters.
Again read The Road to Trinity that I gave you the link for.
Sooner or later, the publishers and editors found out that their main audience was kids and started to tailor the characters to be something that audience would like more, including reducing the violence.
Copies of Superman and Batman began.to appear and the concept of a superhero with a specialized power was created like Flash or Hawkman
Actually downloaded the jpg to read the dialogue
First of all this is an artist with no.special knowledge in psychology or what was going on in the 30s and 40s
One way to look.at the dialogue is to see if you agree with it.
Was Robin added to.add more kids as readers yes that is the only possibility.
Per Werthem He never said Batman and Robin were homosexual but they live lives that would be a pleasant fantasy for homosexuals. He combined quotes from two guys to get that quote. Therefore he is a fraud because he lied about his research.
Robin may not like girls at his age but Batman does.
Batman is not a 12 year old in an adult’s body. He has issues as we all.do. But he function well if all areas of life including relationships as am adult man.
So why do you care what this man says when the ideas he is giving are false, it is clear they are false and he hasn’t done any research except find some panels from.some comic books.
@TurokSonOfStone1950 So how should I see it, like comics were a new medium back then? And comics back then including the original Superman and Batman comics didnt have and audience in mind they were for anyone who was interested?
Yes they thought they would be like their nearest cousins the comic strip, which after all.already had the Phantom a costumed figure and which had a wide audience.
They didn’t know that they had created a new genre, super heroes, and a new media, comic books, which could tell a story more than a daily three panels or a page on Sunday