Comics History Quiz
by Michael Condon
We're going to shift gears on this quiz. When I first read that this month's issue was going to be on the pre-Superman age, I thought that it was going to be about the few comics that came out before 1938's Action Comics #1. So I researched the pre-history of comics, and built the quiz around that. Enjoy!
1. Who was the first costumed adventurer to have a secret identity?
2. The oldest comic listed below is widely regarded as the first
successful newspaper comic series. Which one is it? A. The Katzenjammer
3. The comic book was created by salesmen for Eastern Color Printing
who thought they could drum up business for their company by reprinting
newspaper comic strips in magazine form to serve as advertising
premiums for various businesses like Gulf Oil and Kinney Shoes.
One of these fathers of the comic book was also the father of an
important figure in the comics world. Which one?
4. Why did the first comic books, and most of their Golden Age
predecessors, have 64 pages?
5. The company that would later become DC Comics created the first
comic book that solely contained original material. What was the
name of this comic?
6. Who appeared on the front cover of Detective Comics #1?
7. Many comic book writers were originally employed in what medium?
8. Siegel and Schuster's creation Superman was rejected by every
publisher they went to from 1933 until 1938 when their work was
seen by a young editor who saw the possibilities of the character.
He became editor of the All American Comics imprint that published
such comics as Green Lantern, Flash and All Star Comics. This editor
later created the semi-autobiographical Scribbly feature and still
later, Sugar and Spike. Who was the editor?
9. Who was DC comics' first heroic adventurer?
10. Siegel and Schuster's original concept for Superman differed
in what way from the version that appeared in Action Comics #1?
1. D. The Scarlet Pimpernel first appeared in 1905. Zorro first appeared in 1919. The Lone Ranger started his ride in 1933. The Phantom first walked through the comics in 1936.
2. A. The Yellow Kid first appeared in 1895. The Katzenjammer Kids appeared shortly after in 1897. The comic strip A. Mutt first appeared in 1907. He was joined by escapee from a mental institution in 1908. I don't know when they first shared billing. In 1939 Mutt and Jeff were the stars of DC's first book devoted to reprints of a single newspaper strip. Jeff was named after the boxer James J. Jefferies. Boxing was also prominent in the origin of Barney Google as it was originally a feature on the sports page about a man obsessed with the upcoming July 4, 1919 Dempsey-Willard fight.
3. D. I invented everybody else.
4. A. Golden Age comics books did have at least two pages devoted to non-comic stories in order to comply with a postal regulation. The issues of All-Star Comics that I read on microfilm featured boy aviator Hop Harrigan. I don't know if any comics had prose fiction concerning superheroes. Fawcett did publish Nickel Comics featuring Bulletman, a 32 page weekly, but it didn't last long.
5. B. New Fun comics debuted in February of 1935 and became More Fun Comics after #7. It featured the first appearances of Dr. Occult, the Spectre, Dr. Fate, Aquaman and Superboy. It's final issue was # 127. New Adventure Comics started as New Comics in December of 1935 and became New Adventure with issue 12 and changed to Adventure Comics with issue 32. It had a rich and varied history, with some of its most notable events being the first appearance of Hourman, Starman, Krypto and the Legion of Super Heroes as well as the final appearance of the Golden Age Batman. It ended as a digest sized reprint anthology featuring at least two stories of the early Legion but also showcasing Golden and Silver Age stories published by DC, Fawcett and Quality.
6. B. I know it looks like Fu Manchu, you probably know that it looks like Fu Manchu, but did Sax Roehmer's lawyers would not have appreciated Fu Manchu's presence. My copy of Overstreet's says that the guy on the cover is named Chin Lung. Sax Roehmer's evil creation didn't appear until #17. In 1936, Zorro creator Johnston McCulley created Commissioner James W. Gordon who spent his nights as the vigilante, the Whisperer. (Batman the Complete History, Pg. 36) The book also shows that Batman owed a lot to Zorro. Lucky for the fledgling comic company that McCulley didn't sue.
8. C. Mort Weisinger was another early DC editor. Lev Gleason was a comic publisher best known for Crime Does Not Pay, the first of the crime comics, the genre that succeeded super heroes as the most popular after World War II. Mart Nodell is the artist who created the Golden Age Green Lantern and the Pillsbury Doughboy. Now there's a collector's item of Brave and the Bold for you.
9. B. Dr. Occult first appeared in February 1935's New Fun Comics #1. Zatara and Congo Bill appeared with Superman in June 1938's Action Comics #1.The Crimson Avenger first appeared in December 1938's Detective Comics #20. Detective Comics first appeared in 1937. Brave and the Bold began in August of 1955 and lasted until issue 200.
The Classic Era of American Comics by Nicky Wright, published by Prion Books, Limited, London, 2000 and The Encyclopedia of American Comics (From 1897 to the Present) edited by Ron Goulart, published by Promised Land Productions, 1990 were my primary sources of research.
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