I’ve been working on a family history project the last few months, and today it got me thinking about my earliest memories of comics and superheroes. The first superhero I encountered was on TV, “The Adventures of Superman” with George Reeves as the title character and a great supporting cast. We got our first black and white TV around 1955, it had a tiny screen no more than eight inches diagonally I think. The moment I saw this show, I was hooked. I began learning to read in the fall of 1956 in first grade, and at some point a year or two later, I managed to read on the end credits of the show that Superman appeared in magazines. I hadn’t seen one yet, but from then on I knew about comics, at least in theory.
We had a great-aunt who was a housekeeper at the Buck Hill Falls Inn in Pennsylvania, and every so often she would send us a big box of toys, books and magazines left behind by children visitors. Through this I got my hands on my first comics. Looking at DC superhero comics covers from the period, this is the earliest one I recall having, DETECTIVE 258 cover dated Aug. 1958. I don’t remember any specifics, but I know I was fascinated by Batman and Robin, even in this, a low point in their history. Since I loved everything science fictional too, those themes in the Batman titles would have appealed to me.
I remember buying this title in a store in Dunellen, NJ. It had sat in a spinner rack being read by kids for a long time, and it was in terrible shape, with the back cover missing, but I didn’t care, I HAD TO READ IT! I don’t remember being anything but thrilled with the story.
I’m not sure if I ever owned this landmark first appearance of Supergirl from 1959, but I know I read it as a kid. Perhaps I borrowed it from a friend. Comics were often traded around a lot then. We just wanted to read them.
What could be better than comics featuring Superman or Batman and Robin? This one with BOTH! The earliest issue I recall having, perhaps another one from our great-aunt, or begged for and bought by my mom. Sadly, we never lived close enough to a place that sold comics that I could go there on my own and buy them, even if I had the money. I was dependent on whining purchases when I was out with a parent, or visits to relatives in Dunellen who did live near places that sold comics. I sometimes still visit those stores in my dreams.
My favorite early comic was this one. It had everything, even a two-page map of Krypton, and a great selection of older stories. The first SUPERMAN ANNUAL. I wore out the Superman figure on the front cover from tracing it.
More on this topic in the future, perhaps, including my first Marvel comics.