The Golden Age of Comic Books is an epoch that saw a surge in the American comic book industry generally lasting from the late 1930s until the late 1940s or early 1950s. This period is noted for the birth of “modern” comic books, mostly defined by the innovation of the archetypical superhero. The creation of Superman in 1938, by writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster, and unveiled by the company that would become DC Comics in Action Comics #38, is seen as a watershed moment in this era. Many other notable superhero characters were debuted during this time, such as Batman, Captain America, Captain Marvel, Human Torch, Wonder Woman and The Flash.
This Golden Age saw the growth and development of the comic book industry. Although the creation of superheroes is thought of as the flourishing factor for this era in comics, many genres were developed and successfully filled the newsstands, including humor, western, romance, and jungle tales. A generation of writers, artists and editors refined the conventions of this artistic and creative art and elevated it to a mainstream platform.
This period is followed by the Silver Age in comics, spanning from 1956 to circa 1970. It is noted for the continued commercial success and artistic refinement of mainstream American comic books, markedly in the superhero genre. Notwithstanding, this period also saw comic books genres like that of horror, crime and romance taking a significant share in the publication market. Main contributors in this era including Stan Lee, Gardner Fox, John Broome and Robert Kanigher, and artists Curt Swan, Jack Kirby, Gil Kane, and Steve Ditko, to name a few, helped consolidate the comic houses of DC and Marvel as mayor players in the industry.
The Silver Age is also noted for the creation of the Comics Code of Authority by the Comics Magazine Association of America in 1954. This move served as a reaction to the alleged link between juvenile delinquency and the art form, allowing publishers to self-regulate the content of comics books in the United States as an alternative to government regulation in the industry.
Ted made a nice video showing how to tell a Golden Age from a Silver Age Book:
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