Here’s the latest installment of Maggie Thompson’s ongoing look at important beginnings, middles and ends, this time for May 27 through June 2, 2016...
100 years ago May 30, 1916 Award-winning Golden and Silver Age and storyboard artist Mort Meskin is born. His comics career starts with work in the Eisner & Iger studio and for Harry “A” Chesler, and he expands his work to a variety of material including Boys’ Ranch. He creates Mark Merlin.
65 years ago May 27, 1951 Artist George Freeman is born. His comics work includes Captain Canuck, and he is one of the co-founders of the Digital Chameleon coloring and inking studio.
65 years ago May 29, 1951 Writer-artist Larry Marder is born. His work includes his own Tales of the Beanworld and guiding aspects of the business of comics—from stores to publishers to creators.
65 years ago June 2, 1951 Michael E. Uslan is born. A comics fan who turns his hobby into a career, the writer becomes a key producer of modern Batman films and several other DC-connected films as well as other film and TV projects.
45 years ago May 28, 1971 Now writer-editor Geoffrey White is born.
30 years ago June 1, 1986 The Sunday-only Biography strip by John Roman is introduced by United Feature Syndicate.
25 years ago May 27, 1991 Ed Dodd dies at age 88. The writer-artist created the Mark Trail newspaper strip.
20 years ago June 1, 1996 DC Comics Vice President - Creative Director and MAD Associate Publisher Joe Orlando retires from both jobs.
15 years ago June 1, 2001 Animator and award-winning cartoonist Hank Ketcham dies of prostate cancer at age 81. He created Dennis the Menace and supervised the studio that adapted the character’s adventures to comic books.
10 years ago May 27, 2006 Artist Alex Toth dies of a heart attack at age 77. His work in comics began at Heroic, continued to Golden Age work on DC superheroes including Flash, Green Lantern, and Atom, and then provided material to Standard Comics. He worked in animation (designing Space Ghost, for example) and continued his comics work on features including Zorro.
And here are the anniversaries spanning the month of June...
75 years ago June 1941 In the third chapter of “The Mysterious Mister X” in DC’s All-Star Comics #5, Shiera Sanders gets a costume and becomes Hawkgirl. Then she is shot. A superheroine’s career has its good times and bad times.
75 years ago June 1941 Unlike the lack of attention given to Hawkgirl, the introduction of Doiby Dickles (“Right hand man to The Green Lantern”) gets cover treatment on DC’s All-American Comics #27. The cab driver even wears a Green Lantern costume, no less (though he doesn’t adopt the guise permanently).
75 years ago June 1941 Columbia’s Big Shot Comics #14 doesn’t mention it on the cover, but Boody Rogers’ comedy character Sparky Watts makes his first appearance in comic books in the issue. (He first appeared in comic strip form April 29, 1940.)
75 years ago June 1941 Madam Satan makes her first appearance in Archie’s Pep Comics #16 in a story by Abner Sundell and Harry Lucey. She’s not nice. Just saying. Her name is kind of a clue.
75 years ago June 1941 “Introducing Mercury, the Boy Streak” by Bob Wood introduces (yes) Mercury in Lev Gleason’s Silver Streak Comics #11. The Streak gives Mickey O’Toole his powers and gains a sidekick.
70 years ago June 1946 Harvey’s Black Cat #1 gives “the darling of comics” her own title—“by popular demand, after a five year run in Speed Comics.” “Hollywood’s glamorous detective star” appears in stories involving the concept that a gorgeous Hollywood star would spend her off-hours fighting crime in disguise. Just saying.
70 years ago June 1946 In “Nine Lives Has the Catwoman!” by Bill Finger, Bob Kane (credited), and Ray Burnley in DC’s Batman #35, Catwoman makes a change. Selina Kyle dumps the cat’s head mask and dons her classic green-and-purple outfit with a more ordinary mask.
70 years ago June 1946 In DC’s Comic Cavalcade #15 “The Man That Time Forgot” by Howard Purcell introduces a “Just a Story” feature that eventually turns into stories featuring reporter Johnny Peril.
70 years ago June 1946 Her name’s on the cover of Spark’s Golden Lad #5, and it’s Golden Girl’s first appearance. Unfortunately, it’s also the last issue of the series. Dang!
70 years ago June 1946 Dell gives Johnny Gruelle’s dolls their own title (after four tryouts in the Four Color series) with Raggedy Ann + Andy #1. Though they get the cover and their names in the title, they preside over issues that largely consist of anthologies of a variety of tales aimed at young readers.
65 years ago June 1951 Marvel’s Space Squadron #1 is not one of the great success stories of comic books, but what the heck? It lasts five issues and certainly belongs in the “oddball comics” bin. The cover asks, “Can Captain Jet Dixon alone on the planet of death, defeat the giant killers of Mars!” (Yes, it ends the question with an exclamation mark. Because comics.) The cover offers mini-bios of the Space Squadron members.
65 years ago June 1951 Captain Comet makes his first appearance in DC’s Strange Adventures #9 in a story written by John Broome (as Edgar Ray Merritt) and drawn by Carmine Infantino and Bernard Sachs. “Tomorrow’s man of destiny has a dual identity!” (He’s a mutant, by the way.)
65 years ago June 1951 The first issue looks like just another pre-Code (“strange tales of startling suspense!”) pre-Code anthology title. But just wait. The Human Torch will heat things up for Marvel’s Strange Tales in less than a dozen years.
60 years ago June 1956 The cover features earlier covers of the series—those of #1, #23, #25, #47, #48, and #61—because it’s DC’s Batman #100! Woo hoo!
60 years ago June 1956 St. John had published four issues of a Jackie Gleason series in 1955, but DC took over the license and expanded the title. DC’s Jackie Gleason and the Honeymooners #1 doesn’t limit its Gleason links to Honeymooners stories, by the way. There’s a Reggie Van Gleason tale and others in there, too. Nevertheless, there’s a “Don’t steam me, Alice!” speech balloon featured on the cover.
55 years ago June 1961 “First of a New Series! … ‘Tales of the Bizarro World!’” and the new series is the cover feature. “Everything’s the opposite on this mad planet.” Yup. “The Shame of the Bizarro Family!” in DC’s Adventure Comics #285 is by Jerry Siegel, Wayne Boring, and Stan Kaye.
55 years ago June 1961 Marvel’s Amazing Adventures #1 is Marvel’s fifth fantasy anthology, and it runs only six issues before changing its title to Amazing Adult Fantasy and then, when it gets to #15 … Well, spoilers!
55 years ago June 1961 DC’s The Brave and the Bold #36 is the Silver Age Hawkman’s third outing, but it’s the first appearance of Shadow-Thief in a story by Gardner Fox and Joe Kubert. Wow, watch out for the Dimensiometer!
55 years ago June 1961 DC’s Justice League of America #5 features a bunch of villains in “When Gravity Went Wild!” by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, and Bernard Sachs. But it’s the first appearance of the villain Doctor Destiny.
55 years ago June 1961 In a two-part story in DC’s Superboy #89, Mon-El makes his debut. “Superboy’s Big Brother!” and “The Secret of Mon-El!” are by Robert Bernstein and George Papp. Yeah, turns out he’s not Kryptonian after all—and he has a problem.
55 years ago June 1961 Longtime pop culture fans may think they’re having flashbacks to Thrilling Wonder Stories for July 1940 when they see the Curt Swan and Stan Kaye cover of Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #53. The issue “Featuring Jimmy Olsen as ‘The Giant Turtle Man!’” bears a striking similarity to the Howard V. Brown cover art that illustrated H.L. Gold’s “Out of the Depths” a couple of decades earlier.
50 years ago June 1966 In Amazing Spider-Man #37, Mendel Stromm is introduced—oh, and by the way, so is a guy named Norman Osborn. “Once upon a Time, There Was a Robot …!” is by Steve Ditko and Stan Lee.
50 years ago June 1966 “Trouble between the Dynamic Duo!” DC’s Batman #181 introduces Poison Ivy. “Is she the cause?” “Beware of—Poison Ivy!” is by Robert Kanigher, Sheldon Moldoff, and Joe Giella.
50 years ago June 1966 Wow, look at the licensed series that begin this month! The Big Valley #1 (Dell, lasts six issues), Get Smart #1 (Dell, lasts eight issues), Hogan’s Heroes #1 (Dell, lasts nine issues), Laredo #1 (Gold Key, lasts only one issue), and The Wild, Wild West #1 (Gold Key, lasts seven issues)—did you buy them all?
50 years ago June 1966 “Not a hoax! Not a dream! But the real stuff!” Members of The JLA and The Teen Titans attend the wedding of Elasti-Girl and Mento in DC’s The Doom Patrol #104. “The Bride of the Doom Patrol” is by Arnold Drake and Bruno Premiani.
50 years ago June 1966 “DC’s battle blockbuster!” Our Army at War #168 cover features a new character: “The greatest mystery of the war is unlocked by Easy Co.’s Sgt. Rock in ‘I Knew The Unknown Soldier!’” The story is by Bob Kanigher and Joe Kubert.
50 years ago June 1966 “Scooter’s my disco-buddy! He’s A-Okay with me!” says Sylvester on the cover. With that swinging endorsement (not to mention the cool Go-Go Checks also ornamenting the cover), DC’s Swing with Scooter #1 kicks off the series featuring the groovy British pop star. “Here Comes Scooter!” is by Jack Miller, Barbara Friedlander, and Joe Orlando. Gear! Fab!
50 years ago June 1966 Ballantine Books publishes the paperback Tomorrow Midnight, a collection of E.C.’s adaptations of stories by Ray Bradbury.
45 years ago June 1971 The Kree-Skrull War story arc begins in Marvel’s Avengers #89. “The Only Good Alien …” is by Roy Thomas and Sal Buscema and brings in Rick Jones and Mar-Vell.
45 years ago June 1971 “When I decide Robin must die—he dies!” Who’s that on the cover of DC’s Batman #232? “Daughter of the Demon” by Denny O’Neil, Neal Adams, and Dick Giordano introduces Ra’s al Ghul.
45 years ago June 1971 “Life vs. Anti-Life” by Jack Kirby and Vince Colletta introduces Glorious Godfrey in DC’s The Forever People #3. “If you fear life Godfrey will save you with—Anti-Life!” What could go wrong?
45 years ago June 1971 DC’s House of Secrets #92 introduces Swamp Thing in a story by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson.
45 years ago June 1971 “Harlan Ellison strikes again!” says the cover of Marvel’s The Incredible Hulk #140 “The Brute That Shouted Love at the Heart of the Atom!” is plotted by Ellison (and the title is a shout out to his Hugo Award-winning “The Beast That Shouted Love at the Heart of the World”). The story (scripted by Roy Thomas and drawn by Herb Trimpe and Sam Grainger) introduces Jarella.
45 years ago June 1971 Kull the Conqueror #1 brings another Robert E. Howard character to Marvel. “New! From the creator of Conan!” “A King Comes Riding!” is by Roy Thomas, Ross Andru, and Wally Wood—and there’s bonus information on Kull himself.
45 years ago June 1971 “Is he after Orion … or you? Run! Run! Death is The Black Racer!” DC’s The New Gods #3 introduces the character in a story by Jack Kirby and Vince Colletta.
40 years ago June 1976 Not only does Charlton launch the TV-connected licensed titles of Emergency #1 and The Six Million Dollar Man #1, but it simultaneously releases black-and-white comics magazine series with the same title and issue number. Emergency (comic) has a story by Joe Gill and John Byrne; Emergency (magazine) has stories by Joe Gill, Nicola Cuti, Mike Pellowski, and Continuity Associates. Man (comic) has stories (with a tip of the hat to the novel Cyborg by Martin Caidin) by Joe Gill and Joe Staton; Man (magazine) has stories by Joe Gill, Nicola Cuti, Mike Pellowski, and Continuity Associates.
40 years ago June 1976 “Just imagine The Man of Steel coming to Earth as a baby today—” Superman #300 celebrates its number by featuring “Superman 2001,” which starts with baby Kal-El coming to our planet in 1976. The “Imaginary Story” (because all the others are strictly factual) is by Cary Bates, Elliot S! Maggin, Curt Swan, and Bob Oksner.
35 years ago June 1981 Fan-oriented magazine Amazing Heroes #1 begins publication.
35 years ago June 1981 Charlton Bullseye #1 cover features The Blue Beetle and the Question, and credits for the story include Benjamin Smith, Dan Reed, Al Val, and Bill Black.
35 years ago June 1981 “Where do they come from?” “What do they want here?” “Who are … The Omega Men!” (Yep, it’s another cover question punctuated by an exclamation mark.) The Omega Men make their first appearance in DC’s Green Lantern #141. (To be specific, it’s the introduction of Broot, Demonia, Harpis, Kalista, Nimbus, Primus, and Tigorr.) The story is by Marv Wolfman and Joe Staton.
35 years ago June 1981 Justice Machine begins from Noble Comics as a black-and-white magazine for the first three issues. It’s created and written by Mike Gustovich, who also draws most of the issue.
35 years ago June 1981 Charlton revives The Many Ghosts of Dr. Graves with #66. Issue 65 was April 1978 and featured work by Wayne Howard, Nicola Cuti, Tom Sutton, Steve Skeates, and Steve Ditko. Issue 66 contains reprints of series stories from #5 and #8 (from 1968).
35 years ago June 1981 It’s an oddball crossover between DC’s “The War That Time Forgot” feature and “Creature Commandos” in Weird War Tales #100. “Dinosaur Convoy” is by Mike W. Barr, Bob Hall, and Jerry Ordway.
30 years ago June 1986 “Now—The #1 superhero roleplaying characters in their own series!!” Eclipse’s Champions miniseries kicks off with a story written by Dennis Mallonee and drawn by Carol Lay.
30 years ago June 1986 The cover logo of Green Lantern changes to The Green Lantern Corps with #201 (though the indicia still says “Green Lantern”) and announces that it’s a “collector’s item” and “premiere issue!” “Setting up Shop” is by Steve Englehart, Joe Staton, and Mark Farmer and introduces Kilowog.
30 years ago June 1986 Blackthorne’s Hamster Vice #1 is by Dwayne J. Ferguson.
30 years ago June 1986 The Hanna-Barbera TV show Jonny Quest got a single Gold Key issue in 1964 but didn’t receive an actual series until Comico releases Jonny Quest #1. The issue features a story written and drawn by Doug Wildey and a back-up by William Messner-Loebs, Steve Rude, and Mike Royer.
30 years ago June 1986 In Marvel’s X-Factor #5, the immortal first mutant Apocalypse makes his first (cameo) appearance. “Tapped Out” is by Bob Layton, Jackson Guice, and Joe Rubinstein. (So have you seen X-Men: Apocalypse yet? It only took him three decades to get his own movie title.)
25 years ago June 1991 Judge Dredd the Megazine #9 introduces Detective-Judge Armitage (“Brit-Cit’s hard boiled detective”).
25 years ago June 1991 DC’s Mister E #1 picks up the character after Books of Magic and begins his own series, where he is trapped at the end of time. The story in the issue is by K.W. Jeter, John K. Snyder III, and Jay Geldhof.
25 years ago June 1991 “There’s a new thunder god in town!” Thor #433 is “the 1st issue of a stunning new epic!” Eric Masterson makes his first appearance as Thor in “Whosoever Holds This Hammer” by Tom DeFalco, Ron Frenz, and Al Milgrom.
20 years ago June 1996 Batman Black and White #1 kicks off a series of anthologies of Batman stories told in, you bet, black and white. Jim Lee, Scott Williams, Mike Allred, Ted McKeever, Bruce Timm, Joe Kubert, Howard Chaykin, Archie Goodwin, José Muñoz, and Moebius contribute to the issue.
20 years ago June 1996 Characters featured in The Sandman are featured in The Dreaming #1. “The Goldie Factor” is by Terry LaBan and Peter Snejbjerg.
20 years ago June 1996 DC’s Flex Mentallo (a take-off on a character in Charles Atlas ads) gets his own miniseries with (yes) Flex Mentallo #1 and tells readers, “You! Buy this comic now or the Earth is doomed!!” The story is by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely and is part of a sort of trilogy with The Invisibles and The Filth.
20 years ago June 1996 Simultaneously, Sergio Aragonés Destroys DC and Sergio Massacres Marvel. Aided and abetted by scripter Mark Evanier and a number of inkers, “the renowned MAD magazine cartoonist” (so noted on the DC cover) takes on the two companies. (While the length of “Turning Points” usually limits coverage of its credits, it is time to acknowledge the talents of colorist Tom Luth. Just saying.) Batman, Fantastic Four, Silver Surfer, Spider-Man, Superman, Wonder Woman—and many more: Sergio deals with them all.
20 years ago June 1996 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 takes the series to Image.
15 years ago June 2001 Dark Horse kicks off a series focused on a future Slayer in the Buffyverse in Fray #1. “Big City Girl” is by Joss Whedon, Carl Moline, and Andy Owens.
10 years ago June 2006 Introduced in DC’s Action Comics #598, Checkmate #1 gives the covert-ops agency its own series. “The Game of Kings” is by Greg Rucka and Jesus Saiz.
10 years ago June 2006 Marvel’s Wolverine: Origins #1 kicks off with a recap and then begins “Born in Blood” by Daniel Way and Steve Dillon. Wolverine wants to know his origins. Wouldn’t you?
5 years ago June 2011 DC’s First Wave Special features Batman, Doc Savage, and The Avenger in “The Avenger Problem” by Jason Starr and Phil Winslade. Yeah, not an Avenger (Marvel)—The Avenger (a Street & Smith pulp character who first appeared in 1942).
5 years ago June 2011 Image’s Graveyard of Empires #1 is by Mark Sable and Paul Azaceta. Marines. Taliban. Zombies. What more do you need to know?