Essay on History of DC Comics

Merely uttering the name of the comic book juggernaut for some brings a rush of memories to past days, younger days, or days simply sitting in one’s room, in a park or in a comic book store getting lost within the pages of a favorite comic book title.  Since its inception in 1939 DC comics has ingrained itself not only in America’s culture but that of the world in general.  The company, whose original name was National Allied Publications, initially released its first hero in the form of a billionaire cum detective-vigilante who dressed in a dark blue cape and cowl.  Batman made his first appearance in the Detective Comics series.  So popular was this series and so enthralled were its readers that the company named itself after it and taking the first two initials of the series name, D.C.

Not too long after, Superman leaped from the pages of DC comics in his own series known as Action Comics.  This one-two punch of Batman and Superman kept readers wanting more and the copies of these comic books, much like Superman, leaped off the shelves.  The 1950s, however, threatened the entire endeavor when it was deemed that comic books were not up to the standards of American children and youth.  Progress and profits ground to a halt, and fans of the comic book company feared the worst.  DC comics survived by delving into other genres like western and romance to cover their bills, stay afloat and stay relevant.  Fortunately for DC, lightning struck twice.

During 1965, DC comics enjoyed a resurgence brought upon by a new character, The Flash which ushered in what has now been called as the Silver Age.  At this point, DC comics stepped up their game by focusing on the finer details of their comic books.  The standard of the artwork was increased and the storylines were overhauled to be made more personal and bring more depth to the characters involved.  Soon, Batman, Superman, and The Flash were joined by a whole cadre of costumed and powered individuals, eventually forming the Justice League Society (JLS) and Justice League of America (JLA).

The introduction of so many new heroes, villains and characters allowed DC comics to diversify and the audience that they attracted grew.  Once the exponential growth occurred a lot of people started to take note of DC comics, not the least was their industry rival, Marvel Comics.  To their credit, Marvel wanted to follow their own path and did not want to take the same steps as DC.  They quickly changed their minds and were soon creating their own stable of teams and characters.  Characters from both companies soon started making appearances on the silver screen.  Who can forget the Adam West and Burt Ward’s portrayal of Batman and Robin?  However, comic book characters were able to truly shine when it came to cartoons and other animated works.  This not only allowed comic books to better showcase storylines and a variety of characters.  Not only that, but they were able to display powers and abilities without breaking the bank on special effects as well.

Almost following a cycle of popularity growth and decline, the industry as a whole fell into a slump when it came to the 1990s.  Sales of comic books were down and as the middle of the 90s pushed on, interest dropped significantly.  People it seemed were no longer interested in the worlds and adventures offered within the pages of comic books.  DC responded by making drastic changes to characters and storylines, even going so far as to kill off some of the most well-known and beloved characters.  The shock and awe campaign waged by DC had the desired effect and people were buying comic books again, but it wasn’t even close to the figures that the company enjoyed in the past decades.

This sudden decline seemed to puzzle industry insiders, comic book companies and fans at the time, however, in hindsight, it seems as if the market was simply trying to sort out the medium in which they wanted to consume comics.  The 1990s and early 2000s coincided with the rise of computers, the Internet and computer-generated images (CGI) in films.  At this point in time, it seemed as if the attention of comic book fans was being pulled in a bunch of directions.  But things eventually settled and comic books, and the heroes and villains that resided within them came back in a big way.

Comic book characters soon transitioned to the big screen and were brought to life through the seemingly endless possibilities brought upon by CGI.  Nowadays, “Superhero” movies appear in cinemas multiple times annually.  This has catapulted comic books into the social conscience once again.  Theme parks, product lines and of course comic books ensued.

Written by John M., essay writer from

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