I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about the movies and radio shows based on comic books. Let’s take a look.
The Adventures of Superman was a radio show originating from WOR 710-AM (the station still operates today as a talk radio station). Each episode was 15 minutes, but eventually changed to a half-hour format. 2088 episodes were recorded, starring Bud Collyer as Superman and Clark Kent (he was replaced by Michael Fitzmaurice in the final season). The show contributed to the Superman mythos by introducing Jimmy Olsen, ( a cub reporter who was friends with Clark Kent) editor-in-chief Perry White, and the Daily Planet (in the original comic book, Clark Kent worked for the Daily Star. It would later become the Daily Planet.)
Superman also starred in cartoons and movies. The cartoons influenced comic book artist Alex Ross, one of my favorite artists. Two serials were produced by Columbia Pictures, each running for 15 chapters and starring Kirk Alyn as Superman.
Batman also featured in two Columbia serials. “The Batman” starred Lewis Wilson as Batman Douglas Croft as Robin. The serial also introduced the Batcave to the mythos.
Batman’s second serial was “Batman and Robin” . This serial actually got things right, having Batman as a crime fighter, not a secret agent as in the previous serial. Batman and Robin were played by Robert Lowery and Johnny Duncan, respectively.
Captain Marvel also got his own serial, “The Adventures of Captain Marvel”, from Republic Pictures. The serial starred Tom Tyler as Captain Marvel and Frank Coghlan, Jr. as Billy Batson.
Captain America also got a serial. In the serial, Captain America isn’t a soldier turned superhero, instead he’s a district attorney. Dick Purcell played Captain America.
These serials paved the way for today’s “cinematic” and ” expanded” universes.
Next time, we close the Golden Age with “Judgment Day”, a look at the story that all but killed EC Comics.