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I see dead people (Part 1) – More Fun Comics #52, February 1940

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The Golden Age of Comics was a very creative time; the new comic book medium had few “rules” and the writers and artists were making up the conventions as they went. The result was an odd and colorful assortment of characters, quite a few of which are still with us in comics published today. Of course, not everyone who picks up a pencil is a creative genius, and a fair bit of idea swiping occurred in the 1940’s. Occasionally while reading a period comic you’ll come across a character who seems familiar – and I’m being generous here; what I’m saying is that some character ideas were simply stolen from a competitor’s comic.

The “spirit of vengeance” was once such character idea which made the rounds through the 1940’s. More

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Announcing a NEW Hideouts & Hoodlums RPG supplement, plus H&H stats for Hawkman

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I’m pretty excited to announce the release of a new supplement for the Hideouts & Hoodlums tabletop roleplaying game, especially because I had a moderately influential hand in writing it. The new book, Captains, Magicians, and Incredible Men, Part 2: Harvey-Timely completes the two-volume set of Hideouts & Hoodlums character stats and write-ups for various Golden Age comic superheroes. Equipped with both booklets, an Editor (H&H’s term for “Gamemaster”) can add literally scores of actual 1940’s comic characters to his or her H&H campaign, including more than a few characters who are still active in comics today. More

Batman’s humble beginning – Detective Comics #27, May 1939

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Superman’s June 1938 debut in Action Comics #1 was a lot of cliché things: it was a bolt from the blue, it burst like a bombshell, it took the publishing world by storm. Listen, seriously – it was big. It was the first comic superhero story and invented a genre that still defines most of the comics industry three-quarters of a century later. And it’s an OK tale in its own right: not great, but readable. That’s why it’s frequently reprinted in facsimile editions (I own a couple of them).

But what about Batman’s debut nearly a year later, in the May 1939 issue of Detective Comics? I’ll bet you’ve never seen that one reprinted outside of an expensive hardbound Archive edition geared toward collectors; in fact, I’d bet you’ve never seen that story at all. Batman’s first adventure isn’t often reprinted and I’m about to commit heresy (and risk a trip to the pillory) by suggesting the reason why it’s seldom seen. More

Sorry, kids, but your folks have to go

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I’m always hearing people saying these are tough times in which to be a child. Honestly, though, every generation says this same thing; people were saying it when I was a kid decades ago. It’s tough to be a kid, period, no matter what era you live in – I’m not disputing that. But I will propose the notion that the late 1930’s and early 1940’s were a tough time to be a parent, for one simple reason.

In order for a child to become a Golden Age comic hero, it was a requirement that his or her parents first had to die. More