Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Happy ACTION-versary!

Today marks the 80th anniversary of the day that Action Comics #1 arrived on the stands, introducing SUPERMAN to the world! I'm not going to get into a debate here over whether or not Superman was the world's first superhero (which, honestly, all depends on how you define the word), but he was the trigger that began a flood of superheroes in the comic book world, making it the dominant genre in that medium, on-and-off for decades. Having appeared in comic books, comic strips, radio, animated cartoons, novels, movie serials, television, record albums, feature films, and video games, Superman is truly the king of all media.

So in honor of the event, I've compiled a baker's dozen facts you (maybe) didn't know about Action Comics:

  1. Action Comics #1 sold for ten cents, was 64 pages long (not including the cover), and measured 10 by 7.5 inches. The cover was dated June 1938. (Cover dates on magazines are like expiration dates on dairy products. They're not put there to remind collectors when the issue came out, they're put there to remind store owners when it's time to take them off the shelves.)
  2. The first Superman story only took up 13 of the 64 pages. His origin story was told in just one page. It told of an infant on a dying planet whose scientist father sent him to Earth in a hastily-built spaceship, where he was found by a passing motorist and taken to an orphanage.
  3. Though Superman could hurdle buildings and leap an eighth of a mile, it would be about three more years before he developed the power of flight.
  4. As reporter Clark Kent, he originally worked for the Daily Star along with Lois Lane.
  5. Superman was created by writer Jerome Siegel and artist Joseph Shuster from Cleveland, OH. They were 23 at the time. They had created the character in high school and had been trying for several years to sell it as a newspaper comic strip. When none of the newspaper syndicates showed any interest, they cut up the panels and rearranged them into pages to sell the story as a comic book feature.
  6. Along with Superman, the first issue of Action Comics contained ten other features: Chuck Dawson (a cowboy hero); Zatara -- Master Magician; South Sea Strategy (a two-page text adventure); Sticky-Mitt Stimson (a humorous cops-and-robbers strip); The Adventures of Marco Polo; Pep Morgan (a boxer); Scoop Scanlon -- Five Star Reporter; Tex Thomson (a globe-hopping millionaire); Stardust (Hollywood trivia); and Odds 'n Ends (sports trivia).
  7. Supergirl first appeared in Action Comics #252 (cover dated July 1959). Her adventures ran as a secondary feature in the magazine through #376 (May 1969).
  8. In 1974, DC Comics reprinted Action Comics #1 to give a modern audience a chance to read it. It was exact, down to the ads, although a few minor changes were inserted to prevent unscrupulous people from trying to sell it as the original. The most noticable difference is that it measured 13.5 by 10 inches, over one-third larger than the real thing. There have been other reprints since then, but each of them has small differences that mark them as reprints.
  9. There are about 100 copies known to still exist, only six of which have been graded above 4.0 (on a scale of 10). In 2010, an 8.0 copy sold for one million dollars, and an 8.5 copy for $1.5 million.
  10. A copy of Action #1 graded at 9.0 ("near mint") was stolen in January 2000 from the home of actor and comic book collector Nicholas Cage. It was found in an abandoned storage locker in San Fernando Valley in April 2011, and sold at auction for $2.16 million.  In 2014, another 9.0 copy sold for $3.2 million.

  11. In July 2010, a family in the southern US that was being evicted from their home discovered a box in their basement that had been left by the previous owner. In it, they found a copy of Action Comics #1. It was graded at 5.0 and sold at auction for $436,000, enabling them to buy back their house and still have a lot left over.
  12. Action Comics has been published on a monthly schedule for most of the past eighty years, except for 1988-89 when it came out weekly. In 2011, DC Comics tried to modernize their line of comics by rebooting them for the 21st century. Action Comics was cancelled with #904 and restarted with a new #1. But in June 2016, they decided to go back to the original numbering, so Action #52 was followed by #957.

  13. This week, Action Comics #1000 arrives in comic book stores, the first DC title ever to reach the four-digit mark.

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