Comics / Spotlight / Knowledge and Scholarship

DC Comics Chronology: The Platinum Age

By Christopher Moshier
February 24, 2008 - 10:54

Welcome to a new series of articles exclusive to the Comic Book Bin respectively called DC Chronology. We’ll be strolling down memory lane as we spotlight each year of the juggernaut known as DC Comics. We start with a prequel of sorts about a little something called the “Platinum Age”.

New Fun Issue #1
In 1929, Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson founded Wheeler-Nicholson, Inc. to syndicate the first comic treatment and daily newspaper serial of Robert Louis Stevenson's novel Treasure Island.

In the fall of 1934, Wheeler-Nicholson founded National Allied Publications after discovering the emergence of the oversize magazines put out by other publishers that were reprinting daily comic strips. National Allied Publications introduced “New Fun: The Big Comic Magazine”. This was the first comic book series to feature solely original material rather than reprints of newspaper comic strips. Wheeler-Nicholson had decided that he didn't want to pay the fees that the newspapers were charging for their old comic strip reprints.

In 1934, with the cover date of February of 1935, a tabloid-sized, 10-inch by 15-inch, 36-page magazine comic book anthology with a colored cover was released. The original title of New Fun: The Big Comic Magazine was cut to just New Fun after the first issue. Inside about half the magazine had color in it, but each strip was usually allowed only one color. The comic creators themselves were a mix of veterans and young cartoonists trying to break into the industry. This was a time of the Great Depression where finding work was that much more difficult. Some artists already had completed strips that the syndicates wouldn't take, and they were able to get some money for them by printing them here. Many were knock offs of popular newspaper strips. Out of all the strips only two had any lasting effect, those were Wing Brady and Barry O'Neill. The series would last 6 issues before the name would change to More Fun Comics, with issue #9 the format would change to a normal comic book size. There was a brief time after issue #12 the book would start at #1 again with a volume 2. This lasted for 5 issues and then switched back to volume 1 returning with the original numbering with issue 18. With the help of the “Super Hero”, this title would last 127 issues with its eventual cancellation in November 1947.

More Fun Issue #8

On the heels of New (More) Fun Comics, Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson published a secondary title, New Comics. With a cover date of December, 1935 New Comics once again featured all new material. The title would go through many name changes, turning into New Adventure Comics with issue #12, then to simply Adventure Comics with issue #32. Like New Fun, the title went through a period of volume 2 with new numbering starting with New Adventure Comics #1, then New Adventure volume 3 #1 and stopping with volume 3 #2, before returning to #22 continuing its original numbering run. And you thought present day Marvel numbering was confusing! This title with the help of many superhero features would last until 1983, ending with issue #503.

Slam Bradley from Detective Comics #3
In March 1937, Detective Comics #1 came out. This comic was the first true DC comic book. This issue was the first production of two companies that formed the DC Company. Comic producer Major Malcolm Wheeler wasn't making much money with his comic books (New Fun being one of them) and owed money to his printer and just about everybody else. Wheeler was forced to collaborate with his printer/distributor Harry Donenfeld to produce this book. A story of interest in the first issue was called “Slam Bradley” created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.


Last Updated: August 31, 2023 - 08:12

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