Was Superman the first comic book | Superman Blog

Was Superman the first comic book

How do I know if my copy is the "real deal"?

By David Tosh

While the comic book format as we know it actually began with 1933's Funnies On Parade, the first comic book to make a big splash was undoubtedly Action Comics #1, which launched the career of the Man of Steel himself, Superman. Recent sales of this historic comic have shocked the world with incredible record prices, and the news media has made much of this "million dollar" comic book which had an original cover price of ten cents. Naturally, people have begun to search their attics, basements, and closets, looking for a copy of this elusive treasure. Perhaps you too have run across a copy. However, before you start planning on how to spend all that money, please take a few moments to review a few details of this important item with us.

The problem with Action Comics #1 is that this comic book has been reprinted at least ten separate times, beginning in 1974. None of these were exact reprints, but all were close enough to be confusing to many who may have found a copy. Let's look at the original edition, and compare with the reprints.


Actions Comic #1 Original vs Reprint.

The original comic book, cover-dated June, 1938, hit the newsstands sometime during the late spring of that year. It was 68 pages long (64 interior pages plus the covers), and included stories featuring characters like Chuck Dawson, Zatara Master Magician, Pep Morgan, and cowboy Tex Thompson. Superman was the first story in the book, and was 12 pages long. The comic book measured approximately 7.5" x 10.25", with two staples holding the book together at the spine. Here's a photo of a copy, one that was graded by the Certified Guaranty Company (CGC) and certified as being authentic:

There are some details on the front cover of this comic that we want you to look at:


The rocks on the right side of the book, near the car's smashed hood
The yellow running board of the car, where Superman is holding on
The two "drops of sweat" popping off the forehead of the man in the lower right corner

The first reprint of Action Comics was published as part of a series known as Famous First Editions. It was published with an outer cover, with the words "Famous 1st Edition" at the top of that outer cover. Here's a photo of that edition, showing the "extra" outer cover...

Content-wise, it's pretty much a page-by-page reprint of the 1938 edition, with one big difference: the size. This version is oversized, measuring approximately 10" x 13.5".

The second, inner cover is printed on slick paper and closely resembles the original 1938 comic, but with these differences:
The rocks near the car's hood
are missing
The running board of the car is all green, and there
are no white highlights on the front fender
The two "drops of sweat"
are missing

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