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Michigan State University

Golden Age Comics and Beyond: Resources in Special Collections: Home

Introduction

Like historians of any topic, comics historians differ on the dates and definitions they would assign to a so-called "Golden Age of Comics" and to subsequent "silver" and "bronze" ages. Most agree that the first appearance of Superman in 1938 was the start of comics' Golden Age -- and we're leaving the rest of the debate to others!  Instead, we'll show you how to search the library catalog by date, and give links for some well-known artists, characters, and titles through about 1990. Enjoy!

Search Tip #1

Comic books are usually published as periodicals, like newspapers and magazines. The issue number is not part of the title; don't put it in the search box. In the screenshot below,

  • #1 - Title of the comic
  • #2 - Dates the comic was published -- this does not mean MSU has all dates
  • #3 - Issue numbers in MSU's collection
  • #4 - Date span of issues in MSU's collection

Screenshot of library catalog highlighting: title of comic book, dates of publication, issues owned by MSU, and date span of issued owned by MSU.

Search Tip #2

If a periodical changes its details (like title or publication schedule) we stop adding issues to the old record and start a new one with the new info. In the screenshot below,

  • #1 - This record shows the issues we have for Star Spangled War Stories, published 1952-1977.
  • #2 - Star Spangled War Stories was continued by Unknown Soldier. The link takes you to our holdings of Unknown Soldier.
  • #3 - Star Spangled War Stories continues the earlier title Star Spangled Comics. The link takes to you our holdings of Star Spangled Comics.

Some comics go through quite a few changes that we need to document in the catalog record... so you may have to follow Continued By links five or six times to work your way through the publication history of a comic. Don't give up!

Screenshot showing portion of a catalog record, with highlights identifying the title field, the CONTINUES field (that is, the previous title of the periodical) and the CONTINUED BY field (that is, the title this periodical was later changed to)

Covers

The March 1940 issue of FLASH shows a man and woman flying a small plane, and the caption "Lightning fast action, adventure, mystery!"A 1941 issue of Dick Tracy and His G-Men shows the square-jawed Dick Tracy and two police officersA 1944 issue of True Comics, featuring stories Ski Patrol, Cavalcade of English, Pacific Sweeper, and Last Ditch: Canadian Air Hero.A 1948 issue of Classics Illustrated shows the character Captain Nemo, from Jules Verne's "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea"A 1951 issue of Forbidden Worlds shows a woman cringing in fear as a man fights three beings made of fire.A 1958 issue of Batman shows the Caped Crusader trapped in a tank of water, having been turned into "a human fish" by a villain.A 1961 issue of The Green Lantern shows the superhero struggling to pull his power ring away from a trap.A 1964 issue of The Amazing Spider-Man shows the superhero fighting with the villain "Dr. Octopus."

Michigan State University