Comic books are periodicals that come out one a week, one a month or annually. These comics do not follow one storyline but will cover a number of characters through their own adventures. They started to be released in the 1930’s with the publication of the Famous Funnies in the United States in 1933. A Carnival of Comics was given away in Woolworth Stores in 1934 and Famous Funnies #1 was also released. In 1935 New Fun Comics became the first comic that contained all new material with no re-prints.
In the late 1930’s in the United Kingdom both The Dandy and The Beano started production. The success of these two comics saw more entering the market with the most famous being Buster, Topper and Breezer. Meanwhile during this period saw the emergence of Superman and Batman into comic books. Superman started on the front cover of the first ever Actions Comic in June 1938. As time progressed and superman became more popular, the world saving character branched out into other areas of the media.
Radio, television and film all attempted to satisfy the country’s appetite to be informed of the tales of the all action superhero. However, in terms of the comic industry, Action Comics continue today to publish stories of Superman although now the readership is at a new low level of around 30,000 copies sold per month.
In January 1939 a Superman comic strip appeared in newspapers and had an estimated readership of 20 million readers. The strips ended in May 1966 but were revived from 1977 to 1983 to coincide with the release of a Superman movie. Batman was created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger and was published by DC Comics. He first appeared in the Detective Comics in May 1939. However, the following year Batman gained his own comic book title.
As Batman branched out with its own television series in 1966 it had a huge impact on the Batman comic sales as they reached 900,000. When the show was dropped in 1968 it had the reverse effect on sales, and the reached an all-time low in 1985. In September 2011 the Batman comic books were cancelled along with the other superhero comics. They were re-launched as part of the New 52 series and Batman today is still featured. The role of the Superman and Batman is crucial to the success of the comic books. It is a commonly held belief that if it was not for the success of these superheroes the comic books would have died out long ago.
The comic books in the UK have not centered on the world saving superheroes. However, this has not taken away from their undoubted popularity and success of comics during the 20th century. In the 1979 Viz came into publication but this was not aimed at young children. The fanzine styled adult magazine was based upon bad taste, crude language, and sexual innuendo and became the nation’s highest selling magazine in 1989. Still today The Beano is running. It can’t match its circulation it had in April 1950 when the figures reached 1,974,072, but every Wednesday a new copy of the magazine is published. It is interesting to not some of the characters that have survived all of this time. One would never describe Dennis the Menace, or The Bash Street Kids, or Billy Whizz as world saving superheroes, yet for many decades they have inspired many generations to invest in the comic to follow their adventures.