Debuting at SDCC in a few days, DC Comics Before Superman looks at Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson’s beginnings in the pre-DC Comics publishing world and starting the production of original stories for comic books.  As you probably already knew, this includes early work by Siegel and Shuster prior to Action Comics #1.  The book includes 170+ pages of those early comics.

Official PR follows:

DC Comics Before Superman is the first look at the relatively unknown contribution that Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson provided to the start of the comic book business. His story provides detail and context for the growth of this comic book company during the depression and a glance at a noteworthy, and largely forgotten, career.

The remarkable beginning of original comic book stories (as opposed to comic strip reprints) started with Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson’s fledgling publishing venture and would grow to become DC Comics. The writers, artists and editors that became part of DC history, including Siegel and Shuster, began their careers with “the Major.” Prior to Superman, many of the characters serialized in these early comic books had their beginning with the Major’s pulp adventure stories. This groundbreaking new book provides background and examples of comic book stories with art by Leo O’Mealia, Tom Hickey, Munson Paddock and Sven Elven, lushly reproduced by Hermes Press with over 170 pages of the original comics.

Jim Steranko, well-known to fans of Marvel and a controversial, visionary figure in contemporary culture, wrote the Foreword. Steranko was one of the prime architects of the Marvel Age, infusing elements of surrealism, op art, and a revolutionary narrative approach generating 150 original innovations that changed the direction of the form.

David Armstrong, Associate Editor, curated the many rare pages of comics that fill the book. David is a past president of the American Association of Comic Book Collectors and has been involved with feature film, the television industry and distribution for over 40 years. He was the co-producer of an animated pilot for Frank Cho’s Liberty Meadows and is currently co-producing a documentary short on the life of pioneering comic book artist Lily Renee.

Nicky Wheeler-Nicholson is writing a biography of Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson, military intelligence officer, prolific pulp writer, inventor and founder of DC Comics. She appeared in Robert Kirkman’s series The Secret History of Comics on AMC in November 2017. Her recent article, “Applying the Lasso of Truth to The Secret History of Wonder Woman,” was published in the Spring 2018 issue of the International Journal of Comic Art. Nicky co-edited and provided an introduction to a reprint of the Major’s adventure tales, The Texas-Siberia Trail, published by Off-Trail Publications. She writes about comics on her blog and numerous publications.



  1. The major’s granddaughter, Dana Wheeler-Nicholson, is an actress. Maybe best known for the movie FLETCH, she also had recurring roles in the TV shows “Nashville” and “Friday Night Lights,” among many other credits.

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