Review: Famous First Edition: New Fun Comics #1 #C-63
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writers (New Content): Dr. Jerry Bails, Roy Thomas, Nicky Wheeler-Nicholson, Benjamin Le Clear
Writers (Reprint Content): Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson, Lloyd Jacquet, Sheldon H. Stark, Dick Loederer, Adolphe Barreaux, John Lindermayer, Ken Fitch, Jack A. Warren, Joe Archibald, Bob Weinstein, Tom Cooper and Tom McNamara
Art: Dick Loederer, Lyman Anderson, Adolphe Barreaux, Charles Flanders, John Lindermayer, Adolph Schus, Lawrence Lariar, Henry Kiefer, Bert Salg, Clem Greeter, Jack A. Warren, Joe Archibald, Bob Weinstein, Tom Cooper and Tom McNamara
Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd
In the mid 70’s, DC Comics began reprinting many significant issues from earlier in their history, Action Comics #1, Detective Comics #27, All-Star Comics #3 among others. These were presented in the Famous First Edition treasury sized series. With Famous First Edition: New Fun Comics #1 #C-63, DC has revived the large-sized reprint series with the first comic ever published by the company that would become DC Comics, National Allied Publications, Inc. In this respect, bringing this historical document, originally published February 1935, to the public is a home run on every level.
This hardback edition reprints the complete issue of New Fun Comics #1 in a facsimile edition in its original 10″x15″ size. This reprint also maintains the original black and white interior pages of the original. Additionally, the reprint contains three essays that fill out the history of the project of the reprint, the historical significance of the issue as well as biographical information on the Publisher behind the book, Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson.
The decision to reprint this issue as part of the Famous First Edition series immediately conjures up a feeling of nostalgia for the original run of the series in the 1970’s. The design and cover logos are identical to the ’70’s issues. The sole deviation is turning the “$1” price circle into the current DC logo. However, you can see the contemporary 70’s logo opposite on the left side of the cover. It will fit in nicely with the rest of the issues.
The decision to make the book just a little bit bigger than the other issues in order to present it in its original size is marvelous. Recently, DC published a facsimile edition of Detective Comics #38, and did not change the size to fit standard Golden Age size. This has been corrected for this book, as it is significantly different in scale than today’s comics. Not surprisingly, it is essential for the layout of the strips inside as they are all done in the style of a Sunday full page strip as was the norm in the newspapers of the day.
The reprint contents will not challenge the average comic of today, let alone any of the best the medium has to offer. However, as a treasure trove of historical information and snap-shot of the formative years of the medium, Famous First Edition: New Fun Comics #1 far exceeds most of what is on the stands today.
Dr. Jerry Bails and Roy Thomas contribute essays that outline the history of not only the reprint project, but also outline the importance of Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson and New Fun Comics #1 in the history of comics. This information can be found elsewhere, but it fits perfectly with the reprint. Nicky Wheeler-Nicholson, granddaughter of Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson, provides a biography of her grandfather the publisher and founder of National Allied Publications, Inc. as well as information on all the known contributors to the issue.
Unlike current comics, this book is printed on newsprint instead of slick paper, another detail that gives the reader the proper feel for the original. It may have been tempting to print this with added color. As it is, keeping the black and white interior reflects the original. Another interesting aspect is the cover- “Jack Woods.” That strip doesn’t appear on the inside of the issue, the first story is the cover!
Some of the standout content in the issue include the female protagonist and heroine, “Sandra of the Secret Service,” Charles Flanders art on “Ivanhoe,” as well as the art on “Cap’n Erik,” and “Super-Police 2023” by Bob Weinstein and Clem Greeter, respectively. Additionally, it’s fascinating to see the non-comic strip features that are contained inside. Besides the text stories that were common to the era, there are other features spotlighting movies, radio and sports among other topics.
There’s no real negative as this is an historical document and opportunity to learn more about the origins of comics and the company we know today as DC Comics!
This book is a joy to behold. While the content may seem awkward and very dated, the experience of consuming it is unlike anything else. This is how DC Comics started. Do yourself a favor and get ready for a little history lesson and spend some time with this book. Like the original solicitation says, Famous First Edition: New Fun Comics #1 will entertain “youngsters from 2 to 90!”