DC Comics Products
Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman: these are some of the most recognizable superheroes in history. But what most people don't know is that DC Comics got its start in a small office above jewelry store on New York City's East Side.
In addition to discussing how it all started, we'll also explore some of the company's more innovative ideas and why they've proved so popular with readers for over 80 years. Ready to get up close and personal with Mr. Wayne? Let's go!
The year was 1939 and the American comic book industry was about to hit a turning point.
Had it not been for an ambitious 16-year-old named Stanley Lieber, who we'll learn more about later, the world might never have seen Batman, Superman or Wonder Woman in their sequential art form.
And what's that you ask? Sequential art is like comic books but it also refers to stories that are told through a series of panels. And while those panels may look like they're drawn on paper with ink, they were actually printed on plain white paper for easier mass production.
To get a better sense of how the creation process worked in those times, check out this video about Superman's origin story:
A few months before that pivotal year of 1939, Lieber (who went by his last name professionally) had started working for a new comic book company called National Allied Publications.
In an effort to raise money for its future operations, the company had created several issues of a new product called Action Comics to be sold through newsstands. It was the first time in American history that anyone had tried distributing pulp magazines and comic books through mass circulation.
In just a few months, the company had sold nearly 100,000 copies of Action Comics (which was issue number one of the series).
That's when Stanley Lieber was assigned to write several more issues.
Before that, however, he decided to come up with a new superhero character of his own.
He took inspiration from a popular radio show called The Shadow to create the first version of Batman and wrote his very first Batman story in the August 1939 edition of Detective Comics .
The character's original design included a domino mask, wings for gliding and claws for grappling. And what's more? He didn't even wear any pants.
The story, which was entitled "The Case of the Chemical Syndicate," included a few villains like Doctor X and the Red Hood. But it also had something that no other comic books at that time did: a hero that eventually got captured by the bad guys.
But even though he wasn't Superman or Batman, Lieber's creation would turn out to be one of DC Comics' first success stories.
Lieber continued to work for National Allied Publications (which became known as DC Comics in 1977) and wrote many other stories under the pen name of Stan Lee. As he grew older, he took on more responsibilities and began drawing his own illustrations, which proved to be quite innovative.