DC Comics, or National Periodical Publications as it began, was not the first company to publish comic books, but was the first to publish books of all-new material. Earlier comic books had been reprints of newspaper strips. But in these early days, newness was not seen as a plus. It was like putting together a Lollapalooza style concert, but only with bands that had never released an album.
So the earliest DC comic books highly resembled what one might find in newspaper comics of the era. They had colour covers, but most of the material inside was in black and white. Series were often only a page or two long. The simple fact that New Fun changed title to More Fun, and New Comics became New Adventure Comics became Adventure Comics indicates that the fledgling company was scrambling to get noticed.
Their first big success came with Detective Comics, the first comic devoted to a single theme. It was such a hit, that other comics published by National Periodical Publications gained a cover bullet associating them with Detective Comics – which was abbreviated to DC.
I was tempted to follow the trend and cut this era off with the first appearance of Superman, in Action Comics #1, but I decided to go all the way to just before the release of Flash Comics #1. Superman, as well as the Crimson Avenger, Sandman and Batman all debut in this era, but although Superman and Batman were lead features in their books, only with Flash Comics did super-heroes take over the book.
A couple of quick notes. I use cover dates throughout this, completely ignoring that release dates were different. I will also be including comics published by Quality, Fawcett and, later Charlton – but only discussing the series that featured characters who would later be incorporated into the DC Universe.
OK, I think thats about enough of an intro. With the next post I will begin discussing the many many series that DC has run, starting with the ones that debuted in the their very first book, New Fun #1.