This is my second go a comic book timeline. My first try was an epistolic timeline, but I felt it wasn't working. So now, I'm trying something different. This timeline will be presented as if was taken from a fan's web page. Footnotes will come in two types: numeric will represent information the article author thought was important, alphabetic will represent notes from me. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ The History of Superhero Comic Books The Forgotten Age The evolution of the modern comic book began in 1933 with publication of the Funnies on Parade by Eastern Color Publishing. This was the first book to have the standard dimensional format that would be recognizable by modern fans. It consisted entirely of reprinted comic strips. The next step occurred in 1934 when M.C. Gaines put a 10-cent sticker on the cover of Famous Funnies. While it contained reprints, it did show a market existed. In 1935, National Allied Publishing (which would become DC Comics) published New Fun. This was the first book with all-original material. Max Gaines, Harry Donenfeld, and Jack Liebowitz (1940) The Golden Age The course of comic book (and American pop culture) would change irrevocably in 1938 with the publication of National's Action Comics. On the cover was a caped figure in red and blue circus tights smashing an automobile against a boulder. Superman's debut would mark the birth of the Golden Age of Comics. He would become the base template for all the other superheroes to come. Once it became apparent that Action Comics were a hit, other superheroes began to appear. Among the first was Wonderman produced the notorious Victor Fox. A direct copy of Superman, National quickly sued Fox. Wonderman was no more. In 1939, DC added a new superhero archetype with the introduction of the Batman. Soon, more heroes and archetypes began to burst on the scene. 1940 brought forth the first patriotic hero in MLJ's the Shield, but Atlas's Captain America would become better known. All-American would present the Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and the Justice Society of America. Atlas would have the Human Torch and Sub-Mariner join Captain America. Quality would give us Plastic Man. Fox would rebound from the Wonderman disaster with the Blue Beetle. While inspired by the Man of Steel, Captain Marvel by Fawcett would take the archetype in an original direction. Action Comics #1 (June 1938) With the U.S. entry into the Second World War, superheroes became the dominant genre in comic books. Once the war ended, interest in superheroes would decline dramatically. In 1946, MLJ would be the first to drop superheroes. Others would soon follow suit. However, DC's superhero comics, primarily Superman and Batman, were not affected by this trend. It allowed them to ride out the lack of interest. Other publishers were not so lucky and began to look for new genres to exploit. MLJ would have success with their teen humor icon. They would even rename the company after him, becoming Archie Comics. The Disney characters would drive Dell's fortunes. Others would continue with western, science fiction, and romance. Lev Gleason would hit the jackpot with true crime. All-American, fresh from their separation from DC, started "New Direction" books, horror/sf/fantasy stories with twist endings.[A] However, their success would lead other companies to jump on the bandwagon. These companies' output would provide fuel for the upcoming firestorm. The All-American Publications logo (1945) In 1946, Siegel and Shuster's contract to produce Superman stories was coming to an end. Conflict arose between DC (then known as National Periodicals) and Siegel and Shuster over compensation. Attorney Albert Zugsmith whom Siegel had met during service in the army convinced them to sue. Initially, they had the support of Charlie Gaines and Bob Kane. Kane would sandbag Siegel and Schuster by using to lawsuit to negotiate a new more profitable deal. Gaines withdrew his support after meeting with Zugsmith. According to son, Bill, - 'he found Zugsmith a bit suspicious'. The case proceeded to trial in early 1947. A week in the trial, the proceeding halted and both parties went into mediation. The records on the trial and mediation were sealed. What is known is DC retained all rights to Superman and Superboy. Siegel and Schuster received an undisclosed sum. Rumor has the amount as high as $10 million. But more importantly, each received a small percentage of the company. Siegel continued to write Superman until he retired in 1959. He and Shuster also created Funnyman. After the Funnyman title ended in 1956, Schuster retired to Cleveland. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (date unknown) Critics of comic strips and books dated back to their creation, but a new wave attacks started with the arrival of successful crime and horror books. The backlash gained steam when at a 1948 New York symposium entitled "The Psychopathology of Comic Books". In response, Lev Gleason and other publishers formed the Association of Comics Magazine Publishers (ACMP). This did little to quite the critics as both big and little publishers generally ignored ACMP. 1950 would be the high point in the anti-comic crusade. By 1951, the ACMP issued a revised code in conjunction with better enforcement. Bans on comic books that various cities had enacted such as Los Angeles were being found to be unconstitutional. Dr. Fredic Wertham, one of the early crusaders, had grown disenchanted with the anti-comic movement and withdrew his support. McCarthyism had begun to divert the attention of America away from the movement. During the United States Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency hearings in 1953, comics were barely mentioned. The hysteria had subsided, but the damage was done. Crime Does Not Pay #79, first Gleason book with a ACMP logo (Sept. 1949) Lev Gleason tired of the battles over his comics, ceased production in 1954. Other minor publishers followed suit. In 1952, DC settled their lawsuit against Fawcett Comics for $300,000 and ownership of Fawcett's comic properties. Charlton absorbed Standard Comics (formally Nedor) in 1952. Quality Comics were sold to DC in 1955. Fox Comics ended in 1951 when Victor Fox disappeared. Iger Studios would claim the Fox characters in lue of payment owed. When Iger closed shop in 1952, he would take these characters to the newly formed Magazine Enterprises. In 1953, Jack Kirby and Joe Simon started S&K Publications colloquially known as Escape Comics. All-American's "New Direction" titles would undergo a change in 1953. In an agreement to keep Harvey Kurtzman happy, Mad would transition from a comic book to a humor magazine.[C] Not wanting to devote resources to a department for a single magazine, Gaines created SuspenStories ("True" Crime stories), Valor (war/action stories), and Impact (Horror tales) magazines. However, only Mad and Impact would survive past 1957. Mad #24, the first magazine sized issue (July 1955) The Golden Age Superheroes In Other Media The popularity of superheroes during the Golden Age allowed them to spread into other media. Not surprising, Superman made the first move by joining the funny pages. The Superman comic strip ran from 1939 to 1966. From 1943 to 1946, Batman would also appear in newspapers. Soon Superman moved to the airwaves. The Superman radio program began in 1940. It would last until 1951. The other superheroes that would join Superman on the radio were that the Blue Beetle, the Black Hood, and the Flash. The Blue Beetle (1940) and Black Hood (1942) programs would only last six months, while the Flash (1946) would be on the air for two years. In addition to the radio program, Superman appeared in two sets of cartoons (1941 and 1942) produced by Fleischer Studios and Famous Studios respectively. Ad for the Blue Beetle Radio program (1940) As expected, movie serials would be the next destination for superheroes. However, the first superhero movie serial wasn't Superman, but his competition. The "Adventures of Captain Marvel" premiered in 1941. It was followed by "Spy Smasher" (1942), "Batman" (1943), "Captain America" (1944), "The Flash" (1946), "Superman" (1947), "The Power of the Green Lantern" (1948), "Superman Returns" (1948), "Batman & Robin" (1949), and "Superman vs. Doctor Atom" (1950). In 1951, the first superhero feature film was released, "Superman and the Moon Menace". Using the film as a springboard, Superman would move to television. Kirk Alyn and Noel Neill would reprise their roles as Superman/Clark Kent and Lois Lane. "The Adventures of Superman" would run from 1952 to 1958. Kirk Alyn as Superman in "Superman Returns" (1948) --------------------------------  The term was first in the article, "The Forgotten Age: Comics before Superman" by Jerry Bails. The article was printed in fourth edition of the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide. The term most likely stuck due to Jerry's position as the "father of comic book fandom".  Speculation on why DC conceded part of company tends to focus on Zugsmith. He did not represent Siegel and Schuster during the mediation. He voluntarily gave up his New York law license indefinitely. A month later, he moved to Los Angeles. According Mark Evanier, an unnamed source at DC told him that there collusion between Zugsmith and DC publisher Harry Donenfeld. Somehow word found its way to Judge Armstrong. The judge halted the trial and oversaw the mediation to ensure fairness.  Wertham's disenchantment began to manifest publicly in August 1949. An apocryphal story has the root of this due to a chance meeting with Max Gaines on the train ride back to New York from a Baltimore conference.  While the Green Hornet serial came out 1940, he is considered more a pulp/crime hero than superhero.  The show ran in syndication from 1952 until 1954. These episodes were b&w. The show moved to CBS in 1954. The episodes would be filmed in color, but broadcast in b&w. The villains moved from generic gangsters and thugs to more colorful supervillains. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ [A] This is the POD. In OTL, Donnefeld bought out Gaines and DC absorbed All-American. Gaines used this money to form EC. Here, he decided to buy out Donnefeld and continue All-American on his own. Siegel and Schuster lost the lawsuit in OTL. [C] This is what happened in OTL. The story of Mad moving from comic to magazine to escape the Comics Code Authority is incorrect.