— DC Comics (@DCComics) December 17, 2015
Talk about historic finds! DC Comics just tweeted this historic photo from a comics industry Christmas party from 70 years ago. While there is a slight Shining vibe to it (is that Hank Kanalz I see in the back?), it’s also an amazing view into the Golden Age. After it was tweeted, DC Comics was kind enough to send me a high res scan which I am sharing with you so all the comics historians out there can pour over it. There is a handwritten guest list as well, but its provenance isn’t known so I am not posting it.
Famed artist Joe Kubert would have been a 20 year old tyro. Harry Donenfeld was the publisher of National Allied Publications, publisher of Action Comics #1. Jack Adler was a production artist for DC and died at the age of 94 in 2011. According to the list, other people in the photo include Win Mortimer, Sheldon Mayer, Larry Nadel, Sol Harrison and Stan Kaye.
The photo was discovered by the new DC Library and Archives team in Burbank. They’ve been organizing the more than 90,000 comic books and archive materials that moved to Burbank from New York last year, and this is only one of the treasures they’ve found. I’m told another fine was a copy of the lost 1939 96-page WORLD’S FAIR comic that was only sold at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York which stars a blond Superman and includes the Sandman’s first appearance. The comic has been unopened since 1940 and has long been sought by comics historians. It’s now on display at the Burbank library along with a copy of ACTION COMICS #1.
I know many people will be absolutely riveted by all of this, just as I am. And not to harp on a familiar theme but there are a lot more women than one might expect. The men of DC must have invited all of their mothers, girlfriends and wives. Or maybe some of them even worked in comics during the War years? The list makes reference to “Selma, letterer who worked in production” so probably yes.
Plus, a sit down Christmas dinner for scores in comics? Not so common nowadays.
No matter what else, this provides an incredible vision into the world of comics soon after its birth. Thanks to DC Entertainment for providing the larger scan of the photo. The actual scan is too large for me to post here, but here’s a somewhat smaller version.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.