Category Archives: After These Messages

Superman wins!

The Adventures of Superman - Comic Cavalcade #2

The “Good Books Worth Reading” was a regular feature across the DC books in the early 1940s, part of an initiative to make sure them funny books weren’t corruptin’ kids’ minds! This one, from COMIC CAVALCADE (1942) #2 shined the spotlight on George Lowther’s “Adventures of Superman.”

Historical notes: Just nine days after the release of this issue, the sixth Superman cartoon produced by Famous Studios was released, having taken over production from Fleischer Studios. It was the 15th short overall in the series. The short, titled “Jungle Drums,” is now in the public domain and can be downloaded at the Internet Archive.

About a week later, the Man of Steel got another animated nod in the Warner Bros. Merrie Melodies short, “Super-Rabbit.”

"Super-Rabbit" title card

The approximately 8-minute-long cartoon was written by Tedd Pierce and features “rabbitus idioticus americanus” Bugs Bunny eating a scientifically engineered “super-carrot” and gaining powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal wabbits, — er, rabbits. Read more about the short and its nods to Superman at the Likely Looney, Mostly Merrie blog.

Bugs Bunny from "Super-Rabbit"

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The Adventures of Superman

The Adventures of Superman - Superman #22

The Man of Steel winged his way into yet another medium with George Lowther’s “The Adventures of Superman.” This ad, from SUPERMAN (1939) #22 promotes the book, which was the first full-length novel featuring the character. The book also contained several spot illustrations, both in color and black and white, by Superman co-creator Joe Shuster.

Superman gets mixed up in everything!

Flesicher cartoons promo - Action Comics #54

This ad from Action Comics (1938) #54 again uses the Jack Burnley-drawn cover to Superman (1939) #19 to promote the “Superman, Matinee Idol” story from that issue and it’s tie to the Fleischer Studios Superman cartoons. Figures likely drawn by Whitney Ellsworth.

Boy! Is Clark Kent In Trouble!!!

Fleischer cartoons/"Superman, Matinee Idol" promo 2 - Action Comics #53

This second ad from ACTION COMICS (1938) #53, further promoted “Superman, Matinee Idol,” including giving a sneak peak of the Jack Burnley cover to SUPERMAN (1939) #19 and giving a hint about the story’s plot. Figures in the ad likely illustrated by Whitney Ellsworth, who also was nearing the end of this tenure as editor of the Superman titles.

Coming at you

Fleischer cartoons promo - World's Finest Comics #7

This ad from back cover of WORLD’S FINEST COMICS (1941) #7 was published two weeks after the eighth Fleischer Studios Superman short. The ad is notable not only for being the first full-page ad to promote the cartoons, but also because it is the first to list titles of individual cartoons. Only “Electric Earthquake” and “Volcano” had been released at the time of the ad’s publication. (No short titled “Twin Trouble” was released. It is unknown to me what that title was referencing.) The Superman image in the ad is from the Fred Ray-drawn cover to ACTION COMICS (1938) #52.

In movies – newspapers – radio

Other media promo - Action Comics #51

By 1942, Superman was making waves in virtually every media of the time — a newspaper serial running seven days a week, a growing-in-popularity radio show and and the animated shorts in theaters. This ad from ACTION COMICS (1938) #51 makes note of all three and uses the Fred Ray-drawn cover from SUPERMAN (1939) #18 to not let readers forget where the Man of Steel came from — no, not Krypton, but the four-color world of comic books!

… faster than a Stratoliner — and in Technicolor, too!

Fleischer cartoons promo - Action Comics #46

This ad, from ACTION COMICS (1938) #46 and published just shy of two weeks after the third Fleischer Superman short, recycles the now-iconic Joe Shuster and Paul Cassidy Superman figure from the cover of SUPERMAN (1939) #6. The other figures likely were illustrated by Whitney Ellsworth.