All-American Publications

All-American Publications[note 1] is one of three American comic book companies that merged to form the modern day DC Comics, one of two largest publishers of comic books in the United States. Superheroes created for All-American include the original Atom, Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, and Wonder Woman, all in the 1940s' Golden Age of Comic Books.

All-American Publications
All-AmericanComics logo
All-American logo (1945)
StatusMerged into National Comics Publications in 1944
FounderMax Gaines
Country of originUnited States of America
Headquarters location225 Lafayette Street
New York City
Key peopleHarry Donenfeld
Jack Liebowitz
Publication typesComic books
Fiction genresSuperhero, Adventure, Funny animal, Humor

Publishing history

Max Gaines, future founder of EC Comics, formed All-American Publications in 1938 after successfully seeking funding from Harry Donenfeld,[1]:147 CEO of both National Allied Publications (publisher of Action Comics and other titles) and sister company Detective Comics (publisher of that namesake comic book). As Gerard Jones writes of Donenfeld's investment:

All-American Comics 16
All-American Comics #16 (July 1940), cover art by Sheldon Moldoff.

Harry had agreed on one condition: that [Gaines] take [Detective Comics partner] Jack Liebowitz on as his partner. ... Jack would be tempted to leave and form a competing company if there was nothing to hold him. And it may well have been a way for Harry to keep Gaines under control; since Jack was still drawing a salary and significant bonuses from Detective Comics and [self-distributorship] Independent News, he wouldn't let Gaines take off on his own or act against the interests of the other companies. ... Gaines became the principal and Jack Liebowitz the minority owner of All-American [Publications].[1]:164

While All-American, at 225 Lafayette Street in Manhattan, was physically separated from DC's office space uptown at 480 Lexington Avenue, it used the informal "DC" logo on most of its covers for distribution and marketing reasons. In 1944,[1]:223[2] Gaines sold his share of the company to Liebowitz, keeping only Picture Stories from the Bible as the foundation of his own new company, EC. As Jones describes,

Gaines saw the end of the superhero fad coming and wanted to get into something more durable, like children's books and magazines. ... In 1944, he decided he'd had enough. He let Jack Liebowitz buy him out with a loan from Harry.... Liebowitz promptly orchestra the merger of All American Comics and Detective Comics into National Comics, of which he was the junior partner, vice president, and publisher. Next he took charge of organizing National Comics, Independent News, and their affiliated firms into a single corporate entity, National Periodical Publications".[1]:223

Before the merger, Gaines first rebranded All-American with its own logo, beginning with books cover-dated February 1945: All-Flash #17, Sensation Comics #38, Flash Comics #62, Green Lantern #14, Funny Stuff #3, and Mutt & Jeff [note 2] #16, and the following month's All-American Comics #64 and the hyphenless All Star Comics #24. Liebowitz later merged his and Donenfeld's companies into National Comics Publications.[1]:223

Creative legacy

FllashComics GA 1
All-American's first superheroes began their run in Flash Comics #1 (Jan. 1940), cover art by Sheldon Moldoff.

During All-American's existence, much cross-promotion took place between the two editorially independent companies, so much so that the first appearance of the Justice Society of America, in All Star Comics #3 (Winter 1940/41), included in its roster All-American characters the Atom, the Flash, Green Lantern and Hawkman, and the National characters Doctor Fate, Hour-Man (as it was then spelled), the Spectre, and the Sandman — creating comics' first intercompany crossover,[3][note 3] with characters from different companies interacting — although National's Sandman, Spectre and Hour-Man had previously appeared in solo adventures in All Star Comics #1 (Summer 1940).

With Gaines as editor, assisted by Sheldon Mayer, All-American Publications launched its flagship series All-American Comics with an April 1939 premiere. Like many comics of the time, All-American debuted with a mix of newspaper comic strips, reprinted in color, and a smattering of original, comic-strip-like features. Among the strips were three hits of the era: Mutt and Jeff,[note 2] by Al Smith ghosting for strip creator Bud Fisher; Skippy, by Percy Crosby; and Toonerville Folks by Fontaine Fox. New content included Scribbly, a semiautobiographical Mayer feature about a boy cartoonist. All-American Comics lasted 102 issues through October 1948.

Also debuting that month was Movie Comics ("A full movie show for 10 cents"), featuring simple adaptations of movies using painted movie stills, as well as cartoonist Ed Wheelan's popular Minute Movies comics. The first of its six issues through Aug. 1939 adapted no fewer than five films: Son of Frankenstein, Gunga Din, The Great Man Votes, Fisherman's Wharf, and Scouts to the Rescue.

The next two comics were Mutt & Jeff,[note 2] which ran 103 issues from Summer 1939 - June 1958; and the company's superhero debut, Flash Comics #1 (Jan. 1940), which introduced the super-speedster title character, created by writer Gardner Fox and artist Harry Lampert, as well as the Golden Age Hawkman and future Hawkgirl, by Fox and artist Dennis Neville, and Johnny Thunder, by scripter John Wentworth and artist Stan Aschmeier, among other features.

The Golden Age Green Lantern, from Batman writer Bill Finger and artist Martin Nodell, debuted in All-American Comics #16 (July 1940), followed by the original Atom, created by Bill O'Connor and penciler Ben Flinton, in All-American #19 (Nov. 1940). Wonder Woman was introduced in a nine-page story in All Star Comics #8 (Jan. 1942), the product of psychologist William Moulton Marston (under the pseudonym Charles Moulton) and Max Charles Gaines, and drawn by artist Harry G. Peter.

All-American Comics #1 (April 1939), launches All-American Publications. Skippy is on the Statue of Liberty's torch; Mutt and Jeff are pictured above her crown. Scribbly is at left above the text box, and two of the Toonerville Folks above him to the right. Cover art by Sheldon Mayer.

All-American characters

Premiere issue of All Star Comics (Summer 1940), the anthology that would introduce the Justice Society of America two issues later. Note the National / DC characters the Sandman, the Spectre and Hour-Man.

Superhero/masked crimefighter


  • The Black Pirate
  • Gunner Godbee
  • Red, White and Blue (Red Dugan, Whitey Smith, Blooey Blue)

Funny-animal/other humor


  1. ^ The name is spelled with a hyphen per its logo (pictured) and sources including All-American Publications at Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on April 15, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c The comic book, unlike the comic strip, spelled its title with an ampersand. See: Mutt & Jeff at the Grand Comics Database.
  3. ^ National's top stars, Batman and Superman, had first crossed over as "honorary" Justice Society members in All Star Comics #7 (Dec. 1941), making cameo appearances in the three-page introduction and four-page conclusion of the story "$1,000,000 for War Orphans". See: All-Star Comics #7 at the Grand Comics Database.


  1. ^ a b c d e Jones, Gerard (2004). Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters, and the Birth of the Comic Book. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 9780465036561.
  2. ^ Daniels, Les (1995). DC Comics: Sixty Years of the World's Favorite Comic Book Heroes (1st ed.). Boston: Bulfinch Press. p. 48. ISBN 0821220764. It was perhaps inevitable that the two firms would merge, and it happened in 1944 when Liebowitz bought out Gaines' share.
  3. ^ Cronin, Brian (2005-06-30). "Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #5!". Comics Should Be Good. Wayback Machine. Archived from the original on August 18, 2006. Retrieved 2017-02-11.

External links

1939 in comics

Notable events of 1939 in comics. See also List of years in comics.

All-American Comics

All-American Comics was a comics anthology and the flagship title of comic book publisher All-American Publications, one of the forerunners of DC Comics. It ran for 102 issues from 1939 to 1948. Characters created for the title, including Green Lantern, the Atom, the Red Tornado, Doctor Mid-Nite, and Sargon the Sorcerer, later became mainstays of the DC comics line.


All-Flash, originally published as All-Flash Quarterly, was a comic book magazine series published by All-American Publications and later National Periodicals (DC Comics). The series was the first solo feature given to the comic book character The Flash, who also appeared in the anthologies Flash Comics, All-Star Comics, and Comic Cavalcade. The book ran for 32 issues from 1941 to 1947. The series was originally published on a quarterly basis before changing over to a bi-monthly schedule with issue #6. Each issue regularly contained several stories featuring The Flash, as well as minor back-up features like Hop Harrigan, Butch McLobster, The Super Mobster, and Fat and Slat by cartoonist Ed Wheelan and, in later issues, Ton-O-Fun by Flash co-creator Harry Lampert.

All Star Comics

All Star Comics is an American comic book series from All-American Publications, one of three companies that merged with National Periodical Publications to form the modern-day DC Comics. While the series' cover-logo trademark reads All Star Comics, its copyrighted title as indicated by postal indicia is All-Star Comics, with a hyphen. With the exception of the first two issues, All Star Comics told stories about the adventures of the Justice Society of America, the first team of superheroes, and introduced Wonder Woman.

Atom (Al Pratt)

Al Pratt is a character in the DC Comics Universe, the original hero to fight crime as the Atom. He initially had no superpowers; instead, he was a diminutive college student and later a physicist, usually depicted as a "tough-guy" character.

Comic Cavalcade

Comic Cavalcade was an anthology comic book published by DC Comics from 1942 to 1954.

Most American comic book publishers in the 1930s and 1940s Golden Age of comic books published anthology titles that showcased a variety of characters, usually with one star—such as Green Lantern in All-American Comics or Wonder Woman in Sensation Comics. Comic Cavalcade, however, featured both those star characters as well as the Flash, a star in his own namesake title as well as the spin-off All-Flash.

At 96 pages initially, Comic Cavalcade was about one-and-one-half-times the length of the average comic book of the time. It was priced at 15 cents, when the average comic cost a dime.

Many stories in Comic Cavalcade were scripted by other than the characters' regular writers, for deadline reasons. Batman writer Bill Finger, for example, would occasionally write Flash stories for Comic Cavalcade when regular Flash writer Gardner Fox was preoccupied with other projects.

One non-superhero ongoing character introduced in Comic Cavalcade was newspaperman Johnny Peril. His roots, prior to his first appearance, came in the one-off story "Just a Story" in issue #15 (July 1946), by writer-artist Howard Purcell. With issue #22 (Sept. 1947), the anthological "Just a Story" series gained Peril as, generally, a witness or narrator rather than as an integral part of the narrative. With this issue, the series title became "Johnny Peril Tells Just a Story", eventually changed to "Johnny Peril's Surprise Story" as Johnny became the series' two-fisted hero until the series ended with issue #29 (Nov. 1948). The character went on to appear in his own feature in All-Star Comics, Danger Trail and Sensation Comics through 1953. He returned in the Silver Age of Comic Books in 1958, in The Unexpected.Initially published quarterly, the title went bi-monthly beginning with #14 (April–May 1946). It was revamped completely with #30 (December–January 1948), becoming a funny-animal humor book when superheroes faded from popularity in the post-war era. Featured were animator Frank Tashlin's movie-cartoon duo The Fox and the Crow, along with cartoonist Woody Gelman's creations, The Dodo and the Frog and Nutsy Squirrel. The book's length by this time had been reduced to 76 pages.

The title would later be referenced with DC's 1970s Cancelled Comic Cavalcade series.

Flash (Jay Garrick)

Jay Garrick is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. He is the first superhero known as the Flash. The character was created by writer Gardner Fox and artist Harry Lampert. He first appeared in Flash Comics #1 (1940).

After a bizarre laboratory accident, he acquired the ability to move at superhuman speed, and chose to fight crime as a costumed vigilante, calling himself "the Flash". Jay Garrick has made numerous appearances in other media, including his live-action debut as a cameo in Smallville, played by Billy Mitchell, and in The Flash, portrayed by John Wesley Shipp.

Flash Comics

Flash Comics was a comics anthology published by All-American Publications and later by National Periodical Publications (DC Comics). The title had 104 issues published from January 1940 to February 1949. Although the name of the comic book was Flash Comics, the Flash was only one of many different series featured in the magazine.

Gay Ghost

The Gay Ghost (later renamed the Grim Ghost, not to be confused with Grim Ghost) is a fictional superhero in the DC Comics universe whose first appearance was in Sensation Comics #1 (Jan. 1942), published by one DC's predecessor companies, All-American Publications. He was created by writer Gardner Fox and artist Howard Purcell.

Green Lantern

Green Lantern is the name of several superheroes appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. They fight evil with the aid of rings that grant them a variety of extraordinary powers.

The first Green Lantern character, Alan Scott, was created in 1940 by Martin Nodell during the initial popularity of superheroes. Alan Scott usually fought common criminals in New York City with the aid of his magic ring.

The Green Lanterns are among DC Comics' longer lasting sets of characters. They have been adapted to television, video games, and motion pictures.

Harlequin (comics)

Harlequin is the name of four clown-themed DC Comics characters.

The original Harlequin was a foe of the Golden Age Green Lantern and later became his wife. The second Harlequin originally debuted as the Joker's Daughter and was a member of the Teen Titans. The third Harlequin was a member of the Injustice Unlimited supervillain team and battled Infinity, Inc. The fourth Harlequin has only appeared on a few occasions and is an enemy of Alan Scott.


Hawkman is the name of several fictional superheros appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. Created by writer Gardner Fox and artist Dennis Neville, the original Hawkman first appeared in Flash Comics #1, published by All-American Publications in 1940.

Several incarnations of Hawkman have appeared in DC Comics, all of them characterized by the use of archaic weaponry and by large, artificial wings, attached to a harness made from the special Nth metal that allows flight. Most incarnations of Hawkman work closely with a partner/romantic interest named Hawkgirl or Hawkwoman.

Hawkman is most often depicted as human archaeologist Carter Hall – the modern-day reincarnation of an ancient Egyptian prince named Khufu – or as alien police officer Katar Hol from the planet Thanagar. The character is generally regarded as having one of the most confusing backstories of any in DC Comics, due to a series of reinventions over the years following DC’s 1985 series Crisis on Infinite Earths. Some writers have attempted to integrate Carter Hall and Katar Hol into one story by linking the Thanagarian aliens to the Egyptian curse that causes Hawkman to reincarnate periodically throughout human history, or by using Carter Hall as Katar Hol's alias, or otherwise depicting the merger of Carter and Katar into one being.

The character has been adapted into other media numerous times, with significant appearances in the animated Justice League Unlimited cartoon, which featured Hawkgirl as a main character, as well as several DC Universe Original Animated Movies. In live action, the character has been portrayed by Michael Shanks in Smallville and by Falk Hentschel in the Arrowverse family of shows, both favouring the ancient Egyptian version of the character.

Hop Harrigan

Hop Harrigan (also known as The Guardian Angel and Black Lamp) first appeared in All American Comics #1 created by Jon Blummer (Fighting Yank, Little Boy Blue) as one of the first successful aviation heroes in comic history (Hop appeared after Tailspin Tommy, Barney Baxter, Connie Kurridge and others). Hop Harrigan was technically not a true superhero (as he had no costume or special powers) though he did meet the Justice Society of America in All-Star Comics #8, and he did eventually become a superhero from All American Comics #25 (April 1941) to #28 (July) as the costumed Guardian Angel.

Red Tornado (Ma Hunkel)

For information on the Silver Age Red Tornado, see Red Tornado.The Red Tornado is a fictional character, a superheroine in the DC Comics Universe, debuting during the Golden Age of Comic Books. Created by Sheldon Mayer, she first appeared in her civilian identity as Abigail Mathilda "Ma" Hunkel in All-American Publications' All-American Comics #3 (June 1939), and became the Red Tornado in All-American Comics #20 (Nov. 1940). As the Red Tornado, she was one of the first superhero parodies, as well as one of the first female superheroes (possibly the very first), and, when occasionally disguised as a man, comics' first cross-dressing heroine. (Madame Fatal, earlier that year, was the first cross-dressing hero.)

Sargon the Sorcerer

Sargon the Sorcerer is a fictional character, a second-string mystic, superhero and sorcerer appearing in DC Comics publications during the Golden Age. The original Sargon first appeared in All-American Comics #26, (May 1941), and was created by John B. Wentworth and Howard Purcell. The modern Sargon first appears in Helmet of Fate: Sargon #1 (April 2007) and was created by Steve Niles and Scott Hampton. The name Sargon is of Mesopotamian origin, and one king of Akkad and two of Assyria bore this name.

Sensation Comics

Sensation Comics is the title of an American comic book anthology series published by DC Comics that ran for 109 issues between 1942 and 1952. For most of its run, the lead feature was Wonder Woman, a character which had been introduced in All Star Comics #8 (December 1941). Other characters that appeared included the Black Pirate, the Gay Ghost, Mister Terrific, Wildcat, Sargon the Sorcerer, Hal Mason, the Whip, the Atom, Little Boy Blue, Hop Harrigan, Romance, Inc., Lady Danger, Doctor Pat, and Astra.

The series briefly became a romance title starting with issue #94 (November 1949). Johnny Peril became the lead feature with issue #107, when the theme of the comic changed to a supernatural/mystery format. The title was changed to Sensation Mystery with #110 and ran for another seven issues. The retitled series ended with issue #116 (July–August 1953).

Shiera Sanders Hall

Shiera Sanders Hall is the name of a fictional supporting character and later superheroine as Hawkgirl appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. Shiera Sanders Hall was created by writer Gardner Fox and artist Dennis Neville, and first appeared in Flash Comics #1 (January 1940) as a romantic interest of Hawkman (Carter Hall). Then later as one of DC's earliest super-heroines, she has appeared in many of the company's flagship team-up titles including the Justice Society of America.


Gary Concord, the Ultra-Man is the name of two fictional comic-book superheroes, father and son, that first appeared during the 1940s, the period fans and historians call the Golden Age of comic books. Both were characters of All-American Publications, which merged, in 1946, with DC Comics-predecessor National Periodical Publications.

They are separate from the DC Universe character Ultraman, a supervillain and evil counterpart of Superman, who was introduced in Justice League of America #29 (cover-dated Aug. 1964) and from the Japanese superhero Ultraman.

Wildcat (comics)

Wildcat is the name of several fictional characters, all DC Comics superheroes, the first and most famous being Theodore "Ted" Grant, a long-time member of the Justice Society of America (JSA). A world-class heavyweight boxer, Grant became entangled inadvertently in the criminal underworld and developed a costumed identity to clear his name.

Modern depictions of Wildcat show him to be a rowdy, tough guy with a streak of male chauvinism, leading to frequent clashes with the relatively progressive Power Girl, as well as exploring some of the character's insecurities. Meanwhile, a magical "nine lives" spell has explained his vitality at an old age. Like many older JSA members, he has been a mentor to younger heroes, particularly the second Black Canary.

Other characters have taken Grant's name and identity, including his goddaughter Yolanda Montez, who served as a temporary replacement for him, and his son Thomas "Tom" Bronson, a metahuman werecat who is tutored by him as a second Wildcat and a JSA member in late-2000s stories.

Ted Grant briefly appeared in an episode of Smallville played by Roger Hasket. Grant’s Wildcat was also a recurring character on the third season of Arrow played by J.R. Ramirez. He was a retired vigilante who was training Laurel Lance to become one. Wildcat will also appear on the DC Universe streaming service show Stargirl played by Brian Stapf.

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