Comic books have been around for over seventy years.
By and large, the accepted time frame for the golden age of comic books ran from a period from the 1930s through the mid-1950s. It was a prosperous time for the American comic book realm. Many of today’s superheroes were inaugurated during this stage. Superheroes flourished in the golden age of comic books. Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Batman, Robin, and Hawkman were some of the heroes that a new company called Detective Comics or DC comics, launched. During the 1940s a precursor to Marvel Comics, called Timely Comics, introduced their version of the superhero genre. They included Captain America, The Human Torch, and The Sub-Mariner. Ironically, the Captain Marvel comic books from Fawcett Comics outsold Superman and his associates during the golden age. There were literally hundreds of super-powered and non-superpowered heroes that came and went.
The advent of world war two helped propel the comic book industries’ popularity. It was an inexpensive means to relax, read, and imagine the good guys prevail over the bad guys. In those days, Superman regularly helped the allies thwart Hitler and the axis powers. What better way to defeat the enemy than to watch the heroes in action? Defeating Hitler was on everyone’s mind, and the stress relief comic books provided were helpful to a young man in a foreign land engaged in daily battles.
Superman, Batman, and Robin helped the war effort by advertising war bonds. Uncle Sam may have wanted you, but the superheroes lending themselves to the war propaganda helped the cause. Which one was more influential in the golden age of comic books: a sickly looking old man who wanted you to fight, or young powerful superheroes that could do incredible damage to the enemy? The answer is evident.
The war was significant and powerful in the development of the superheroes during the golden age. However, there were other factors too. There were comic books during that period that were not based on superheroes. The genre started to change during the latter part of the golden age, especially after World War Two. Westerns were taking firm root in society as the readership declined for the superheroes. Horror, romance, satire, and science fiction all filled the vacuum that was left during the decline. The downward trend was precipitated by, in my opinion, the ambiance of the times with McCarthyism and books being published that suggested comic books and their ilk were detrimental to society’s young people’s minds.
The introduction of the funny comics during the golden age was well-liked too.
Bugs Bunny and Donald duck premiered. The funny comics instilled laughter in the audience and that was important. The importance of laughter during stressful times cannot be overstated. The atmosphere was rife with the arrival of the cold war and the atomic age. Bomb shelters littered the country. With that being said, funny comic books helped people express amusement in their daily routine.
Whatever genre people chose to read, the Golden Age of comic books influenced the shaping the comic book market.