Action Comics #1 (cover dated June 1938) is the first issue of the original run of the comic book/magazine series Action Comics. It features the first appearance of several comic book heroes—most notably the Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster creation, Superman—and sold for 10 cents (equivalent to $2 in 2018). It is widely considered to be both the beginning of the superhero genre and the most valuable comic book in the world. Action Comics would go on to run for 904 numbered issues (plus additional out-of-sequence special issues) before it restarted its numbering in the fall of 2011. It returned to its original numbering with issue #957, published on June 8, 2016 (cover-dated August) and reached its 1,000th issue in 2018.
|Action Comics #1|
|Publication date||June 1938 (cover date) / May 1938 (on sale date)|
November 2011 (cover date) / September 2011 (on-sale date)
Action Comics #1 was an anthology, and contained eleven features:
Published on April 18, 1938 (cover-dated June), by National Allied Publications, a corporate predecessor of DC Comics, it is considered the first true superhero comic; and though today Action Comics is a monthly title devoted to Superman, it began, like many early comics, as an anthology.
Action Comics was started by publisher Jack Liebowitz. The first issue had a print run of 200,000 copies, which promptly sold out, although it took some time for National to realize that the "Superman" strip was responsible for sales of the series that would soon approach 1,000,000 a month. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were paid $10 per page, for a total of $130 for their work on this issue. Liebowitz would later say that selecting Superman to run in Action Comics #1 was "pure accident" based on deadline pressure and that he selected a "thrilling" cover, depicting Superman lifting a car over his head. Christopher Knowles, author of Our Gods Wear Spandex: The Secret History of Comic Book Heroes, compared the cover to Hercules Clubs the Hydra by Antonio del Pollaiolo.
In January 1933, Jerry Siegel wrote a short prose story titled "The Reign of the Superman", which was illustrated by his friend Joe Shuster and self-published in a science fiction magazine. It told the story of a bald villain with telepathic powers. Trying to create a character they could sell to newspaper syndicates, Siegel re-conceived the "superman" character as a powerful hero, sent to our world from a more advanced society. He and Shuster developed the idea into a comic strip, which they pitched unsuccessfully.
National Publications was looking for a hit to accompany their success with Detective Comics, and did not have time to solicit new material. Jack Liebowitz, co-owner of National Publications, told editor Vin Sullivan to create their fourth comic book. Because of the tight deadline, Sullivan was forced to make it out of inventory and stockpile pages. He found a number of adventurer stories, but needed a lead feature. Sullivan asked former coworker Sheldon Mayer if he could help. Mayer found the rejected Superman comic strips, and Sullivan told Siegel and Shuster that if they could paste them into 13 comic book pages, he would buy them.
The original panels were rewritten and redrawn to create the first page of Action Comics #1:
Two new panels offering a "scientific explanation of Clark Kent's amazing strength" were added. The panels do not identify Superman's home planet by name or explain how he was named Clark Kent.
The next twelve pages showed Superman attempting to save an innocent woman about to be executed while delivering the real murderess, bound and gagged, and leaving her on the lawn of the state Governor's mansion after breaking through the door into his house with a signed confession; coming to the aid of a woman being beaten up by her husband, who faints when his knife shatters on Superman's skin; rescuing Lois Lane (who also debuts in this issue) from a gangster who abducted her after she rebuffed him at a nightclub, which leads to the cover scene with the car; and going to Washington, D.C., instead of South America, to "stir up news" as his editor wants to investigate a Senator who he suspects is corrupt, and prompting a confession by leaping around high buildings with the terrified man, which leads into the next issue. All the while, Clark tries to keep Superman out of the papers.
Action Comics #1 has set several sales records for comic books. On February 22, 2010, a copy of Action Comics #1 CGC Grade 8.0 sold at auction for US$1 million, becoming the first million-dollar comic book. The sale, by an anonymous seller to an anonymous buyer, was through the Manhattan-based auction company ComicConnect.com. On March 29, 2010, ComicConnect.com sold another copy for US$1.5 million, making it the most expensive and most valuable comic book of all time. The copy sold is the third highest-graded copy from the CGC, which stands at 8.5 VF+ grade.
As of 2011, there were six known Comic Guaranty LLC (CGC)-graded copies with a grade above VG (CGC 4.0), with only one issue having the grade of VF/NM (CGC 9.0) at that time. EC and Mad publisher William Gaines, whose father was also a comic book publisher and had business dealings with DC Comics at the time Action Comics #1 was published, claimed in a Comics Journal interview that he at one point had dozens of copies of the issue around his house, but they were probably all thrown out. Another copy, rated CGC 5 ("Very Good/Fine"), was discovered in July 2010 by a family facing foreclosure on their home while packing their possessions. Estimated by ComicConnect.com to sell as high as $250,000, the comic fetched $436,000 at auction, saving the family's home.
One copy was stolen from American actor Nicolas Cage, an avid comic book collector, in 2000. In March 2011, it was found in a storage locker in the San Fernando Valley and was verified by ComicConnect.com to be the copy sold to him previously. Cage had previously received an insurance payment for the item. A copy which sold for $2.16 million on November 30, 2011 through ComicConnect.com is believed to have been this same one, having been noted as stolen in 2000 and recovered in 2011. The Hollywood Reporter mentioned in its March 23, 2012 issue that a movie was in development based on the theft of Cage's copy of the comic book and would be titled Action No. 1. The screenplay was a spec script written by Reno 911! creators Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon and sold to Lionsgate. They will produce along with Peter Principato and Paul Young.
A CGC 9.0-graded comic, with white pages, was auctioned for sale on eBay in August 2014. The seller Darren Adams, a comic book store owner in Federal Way, Washington, had purchased the issue from the estate of a man who had originally bought the issue from a newsstand on its release in 1938. The original buyer lived in high altitudes in West Virginia and stored the comic in a stack with others, which provided the optimal "cool, dry and dark" conditions that lent well to a comic's age, according to Adams. The comic changed hands twice prior to the auction; first sold as part of an estate sale when the original purchaser died forty years after its publication, and then to a third person who held the comic for about thirty years. Some years prior to the auction, Adams was contacted by this third person, and seeing the pristine condition of the comic, purchased it for a "seven figure sum". He held onto the comic for a few years before deciding to sell it, keeping the existence of it otherwise a secret, even rejecting a $3 million offer to buy the comic outright. On his decision to sell, he opted to use eBay instead of other comic auction houses like Heritage House, believing the auction site would reach a wider audience and was a better fit for the pop culture nature of the piece. After discussions with the site, Adams and eBay also arranged to donate 1% of the sale to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, reflecting on Christopher Reeve's role as Superman in motion pictures. The auction ended on August 24, 2014 and sold for over $3.2 million. This was the highest value ever paid for a single issue of a comic book. The purchasers were Vincent Zurzolo and Stephen Fishler, the owners of Metropolis Collectibles; Zurzolo expected the value of the near-mint comic to continue to increase in time.
Beginning in the mid-1970s, DC reissued several of its most popular Golden Age comics as "Famous First Editions", including Action Comics #1, published in 1974. These reprints were oversized, roughly double the size of the original editions, and had a cardboard-like cover. The interior, however, was an exact reprint of the original comic, right down to the ads. As a result, the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide has, since the 1970s, published a warning advising that attempts have been made to pass off the reprint, stripped of its Famous First Edition cardboard cover, as an actual #1. However, the Guide does not cite any actual instances of this.
DC reprinted Action Comics #1 in 1988 as part of the 50th anniversary celebration of Superman that year. This edition reprinted only the Superman story, with a 50¢ U.S.A. cover price.
The complete issue was reprinted in 1998 with an additional half-cover featuring the Superman stamp from the U.S. Postal Service's "Celebrate the Century" commemorative stamp series along with a "First Day of Issue" cancellation. It was sold by the U.S. Postal Service, shrinkwrapped, for $7.95.
The complete issue, save for the inside front, inside back, and outside back cover, was reprinted in 2000 as part of DC Comics' Millennium Edition series of reprints of famous DC comics.
The 1988, 1998 and 2000 reprints were published to the page-size standard of the 1988–2000 period, and not the larger page size utilized by Action Comics in 1938.
In early 2011, DC Comics announced plans to reboot and reset 52 of its ongoing titles, dubbed The New 52. This included ending the original 73-year run of Action Comics with issue #904, October 2011 (on sale August 24, 2011). The first issue of Action Comics volume 2, with a cover date of November 2011, went on sale September 7, 2011.
The New 52 version of Action Comics #1 has gone through five printings. The fifth printing, which went on sale March 28, 2012, is cover-dated May 2012 in both the UPC box on the cover and the indicia, with no mention of its original November 2011 cover date.
In 2016, as part of the Rebirth relaunch, DC restored Action Comics' original numbering, releasing Action Comics vol. 1 #957 after Action Comics vol. 2 #52. Subsequently, a commemorative poster celebrating 1000 issues of Action Comics was released in 2018, which retroactively listed all issues of the New 52 Action Comics vol. 2 with their cumulative issue numbers. As a result, Action Comics vol. 2 #1 is now also considered to be Action Comics vol. 1 #905 overall.
A "pristine" copy of Action Comics No. 1, the comic book that introduced the Man of Steel to the world in 1938, sold for $3,207,852 on an eBay auction Sunday night following a last-minute round of intense bidding. By far the highest price ever paid for a single comic book, the number flew up, up, and away past the $2,161,000 paid for a less pristine copy that was auctioned in 2011.
There are only 50 to 100 thought to exist and only a handful in decent condition.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
Notable events of 1938 in comics. See also List of years in comics.Action Comics
Action Comics is an American comic book/magazine series that introduced Superman, one of the first major superhero characters. The publisher was originally known as National Allied Publications, and later as National Comics Publications and as National Periodical Publications, before taking on its current name of DC Comics. Its original incarnation ran from 1938 to 2011 and stands as one of the longest-running comic books with consecutively numbered issues. A second volume of Action Comics beginning with issue #1 ran from 2011 to 2016. Action Comics returned to its original numbering beginning with issue #957 (Aug. 2016).Comics Guaranty
Certified Guaranty Company, also known as CGC, is a Sarasota, Florida comic book grading service. CGC is an independent member of the Certified Collectibles Group of companies. It is the first independent and impartial third party grading service for comic books.
The company was launched in early 2000 and has since gone on to become a notable part of the comic book collecting community.Edgar Church
Edgar Church (November 28, 1888 – 1978), was a comics collector and artist who worked independently and eventually for the telephone company in Colorado illustrating commercial telephone book advertisements, precursors to Yellow Pages advertisements.Church kept thousands of miscellaneous periodicals in his Colorado home to use as references for his art. From these magazines he would clip images which he would store in one of hundreds of labeled boxes. The collection of comic books that he amassed, later known as the "Edgar Church collection" or the "Mile High collection", is the most famous and valuable comic book collection known to surface in the history of comic book collecting. The collection consisted of between 18,000 and 22,000 comic books, most of them in high quality grades, and was discovered and bought in 1977 by Chuck Rozanski of Mile High Comics. About 99% of it was later sold by him to various collectors. The collection is famed for holding the highest quality copies of many Golden Age comic books, including the best known copy of Action Comics #1. (Believed to be a 9.4 to a 9.6, but the current owner refuses to get any of his books graded.)
Edgar Church was married twice and had one child with each of his wives. Church died in 1978 at age 89.First appearance
In American comic books and other stories with a long history, first appearance refers to the first issue to feature a fictional character. These issues are often highly valued by collectors due to their rarity and iconic status.Fred Guardineer
Frederick B. Guardineer (October 3, 1913 – September 13, 2002) was an American illustrator and comic book writer-artist best known for his work in the 1930s and 1940s during what historians and fans call the Golden Age of Comic Books, and for his 1950s art on the Western comic-book series The Durango Kid.
A pioneer of the medium itself, Guardineer contributed two features to the seminal Action Comics #1, the comic book that introduced Superman.George Taylor (DC Comics)
George Taylor is a fictional character who appears in the Superman comic books published by DC Comics. In most incarnations, he is the Editor-in-Chief of the Metropolis newspaper the Daily Star.
The character was introduced by writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster as the unnamed editor who gave Clark Kent his first job as a reporter, in Action Comics #1, June 1938. His name was not revealed for more than a year (in Superman #2, Fall 1939).Golden Age of Comic Books
The Golden Age of Comic Books describes an era of American comic books from the late 1930s to circa 1950. During this time, modern comic books were first published and rapidly increased in popularity. The superhero archetype was created and many well-known characters were introduced, including Superman, Batman, Captain Marvel (later known as SHAZAM!), Captain America, and Wonder Woman.Joe Shuster
Joseph Shuster (; July 10, 1914 – July 30, 1992) was a Canadian-American comic book artist best known for co-creating the DC Comics character Superman, with writer Jerry Siegel, in Action Comics #1 (cover-dated June 1938).
Shuster was involved in a number of legal battles over ownership of the Superman character. His comic book career after Superman was relatively unsuccessful, and by the mid-1970s Shuster had left the field completely due to partial blindness.
He and Siegel were inducted into both the comic book industry's Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1993. In 2005, the Canadian Comic Book Creator Awards Association instituted the Joe Shuster Awards, named to honor the Canada-born artist.Mister America (comics)
Mister America, in comics, is the name of three fictional DC Comics superheroes:
1. Tex Thompson, the Golden Age Mister America, first appeared on June 1938 in Action Comics #1.2. Trey Thompson (a descendent of his predecessor Tex Thompson) is the prelude to the modern day Mr. America. He first appeared in Justice Society of America (vol. 3) #1 (February 2007) as an FBI special agent who took justice into his own hands after a murderer he captured is set free. Vandal Savage hires the super-thug Catalyst to murder Thompson's entire family, and Savage himself murders Trey Thompson in the following issue.3. Jeffrey Graves is the modern day Mr. America. Trey's former FBI contact is first seen donning the mask of Mr. America in Justice Society of America (vol. 3) #4 after he is fired due to his connection with Trey. He stumbles into the Justice Society Headquarters at the end of Justice Society of America (vol. 3) #12, seeking help to defeat his mysterious pursuer.Origin of Superman
The origin of Superman is the story that relates Superman's arrival on Earth and the beginnings of his career as a superhero. The story has been through many revisions through decades of publication in comic books and radio, television and film adaptations.
The original story was written by Jerry Siegel and illustrated by Joe Shuster, and published as a part of the character's first appearance in Action Comics #1 (June 1938). As more stories were published, more details about the original story were established. These stories explored individual details, such as the planet Krypton, the source of Superman's powers and his relationships with supporting characters. Because continuity was looser during the Golden Age and the Silver Age, many of these stories contradicted each other.
As Superman was adapted into other media, his origin story has been frequently retold. These origin stories adhere to the basic framework created by Siegel and Shuster, with minor variations made to serve the plot or to appeal to contemporary audiences. Some of the details created for these adaptations influenced the origin story in the mainstream comic series.
In more recent years, the origin story has been revamped in the comic books several times. In 1985, DC Comics published Crisis on Infinite Earths, which created the opportunity to definitively revise the history of the DC Universe. Superman's origin was subsequently retold in the 1986 limited series The Man of Steel, written and drawn by John Byrne. The story was later removed from continuity ("retconned") and replaced with the Superman: Birthright limited series in 2003 and 2004, written by Mark Waid and drawn by Leinil Francis Yu, as Superman's official origin. After the Infinite Crisis limited series in 2005 and 2006, Superman's origin was revised yet again, unfolding throughout Superman's regular publications and the Superman: Secret Origin mini-series in 2009 and 2010.Our Gods Wear Spandex
Our Gods Wear Spandex: The Secret History of Comic Book Heroes is a 2007 book by Christopher Knowles, the former editor of Comic Book Artist, with illustrations by Joe Linsner.
The book examines superheroes as a modern evolution of mythological archetypes and the more modern history, as well as the mystical influences on comics.Publication history of Superman
Superman, a fictional comic book character, has spanned several decades and become a defining superhero archetype.Superhero comics
Superhero comics are one of the most common genres of American comic books. The genre rose to prominence in the 1930s and became extremely popular in the 1940s and has remained the dominant form of comic book in North America since the 1960s. Superhero comics feature stories about superheroes and the universes these characters inhabit.
Beginning with the introduction of Superman in 1938 in Action Comics #1 — an anthology of adventure features — comic books devoted to superheroes (heroic people with extraordinary or superhuman abilities and skills, or god-like powers and attributes) ballooned into a widespread genre, coincident with the beginnings of World War II and the end of the Great Depression.Superman
Superman is a fictional superhero created by writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster. He first appeared in Action Comics #1, a comic book published on April 18, 1938. He appears regularly in American comic books published by DC Comics, and has been adapted to radio shows, newspaper strips, television shows, movies, and video games.
Superman was born on the planet Krypton and named Kal-El. As a baby, he was sent to Earth in a small spaceship by his scientist father Jor-El moments before Krypton was destroyed in a natural cataclysm. His ship landed in the American countryside; he was found and adopted by farmers Jonathan and Martha Kent, who named him Clark Kent. Clark displayed various superhuman abilities, such as incredible strength and impervious skin. His foster parents advised him to use his abilities for the benefit of humanity, and he decided to fight crime as a vigilante. To protect his privacy, he changes into a colorful costume and uses the alias "Superman" when fighting crime. Clark Kent resides in the fictional American city of Metropolis, where he works as a journalist for the Daily Planet. Superman's love interest is his fellow journalist Lois Lane, and his classic arch-enemy is the genius inventor Lex Luthor. He is a friend of many other superheroes in the DC Universe, such as Batman and Wonder Woman.
Although Superman was not the first superhero character, he popularized the superhero genre and defined its conventions. Superman is still one of the most lucrative superhero franchises.Superman (comic book)
Superman is an ongoing American comic book series featuring the DC Comics superhero Superman as its main protagonist. Superman began as one of several anthology features in the National Periodical Publications comic book Action Comics #1 in June 1938. The strip proved so popular that National launched Superman into his own self-titled comic book, the first for any superhero, premiering with the cover date Summer 1939. Between 1986 and 2006 it was retitled The Adventures of Superman while a new series used the title Superman. In May 2006, it was returned to its original title and numbering. The title was canceled with issue #714 in 2011, and was relaunched with issue #1 the following month which ended its run in 2016. A fourth series was released with issue #1 in June 2016 and ended in April 2018. A fifth series with new issue #1 was launched in July 2018.Tex Thompson
Tex Thompson is a fictional superhero owned by DC Comics who has used the costumed identities Mr. America and The Americommando. Created by Ken Fitch and Bernard Baily, his first appearance was in Action Comics #1 (June 1938), the same comic that introduced Superman.Tigress (DC Comics)
Tigress is the name of three different comic book supervillains, all of whom have appeared in various series published by DC Comics.Zatara
Giovanni "John" Zatara is a fictional superhero appearing in comics published by DC Comics. He is a stage magician who also practices actual magic. He married Sindella, a Homo magi, and they have a daughter, Zatanna Zatara, who, like her father, is both a "stage magician" and a genuine high-level sorceress to boot.