By Jennifer Harman

Most comic historians agree that true comics began in the 1900s. This isn’t to say that there weren’t comics before then, just that they didn’t really develop their following until 1865, when one of the first comics, called Hogan’s Alley, found its way into the New York World newspaper.  Once started, comics caught on quick, finding their way into newspapers across the country. The first comic book was published in 1933. And in June 1938, two teenage boys, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, created the world’s very first superhero: Superman.

One of the original comic book covers.

Comics have come a long way since our Man of Steel was first introduced. For the past fifty years, two major publishers have dominated the American Comic book industry: DC and Marvel. DC, which claims Superman as one of its properties, is the smaller of the two. It’s now owned by one of the six big media corporations, Time Warner. Time Warner, (which boasts a diversified group of assets that include HBO, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network and others) utilized its impressive synergy skills to orchestrate Superman’s transformation from THIS: To THIS: The Superman character has been in a multitude of movies and television shows. He was even a member of The Justice League, which aired on Time Warner’s very own Cartoon Network. Time Warner, which boasted a whopping 32,000 world-wide employees this time last year, competes head-to-head with Disney‘s Marvel, for the biggest slice of the comic character pie. The Walt Disney Company is the largest media corporation in the world and the DC/Marvel battle is Internet-famous.

A quick Google search nets tons of “Marvel versus DC” webpages, which pit character against character, storyline against storyline and nerd against nerd. The best, of course, are the YouTube fan-vids. This one was made when X-men Origins (a Disney Marvel production) and DC’s The Watchmen came out around the same time. It starts to really paint a picture of the companies’ rivalry at :55 (the rest of the video isn’t that great, sadly.) Interestingly, theyrule.net grants the two companies only two degrees of separation. John E. Bryson, from The Walt Disney Company’s board of directors and Lisa Barry, on Time Warner’s board of directors are both also on Boeing’s board of directors. This might explain how we get comic-book crossovers like the one below. Oh, and a quick glance over Disney’s legal notices page shows that it is absolutely swamped with obnoxious little ©’s and ®’s. Just to warn anyone thinking of making their own crossovers, the Walt Disney Company takes copyright pretty seriously.

A Brief History of Comic Books – By John Petty

DC

DC Database (Wikia)

Mike’s Amazing World of DC Comics

Time Warner

Marvel

Disney

Metropolis Plus

Columbia Journalism Review

The Legality

They Rule

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