More ashcan editions:
Flash Comics uses a cover previously used on Adventure Comics #41
All American Men of War uses a cover used on All Star Western #58.
Action Funnies uses the Action Comics #3 cover.
Superboy uses a Batman and Robin cover from Detective Comics #57.
Supergirl used the cover to Boy Commandos #1.
Superman Comics uses the cover to Action Comics #7.
Superwoman uses a Dr. Fate cover from More Fun Comics #73.
I’m a fan of ashcan editions of comic books. Ashcans are mainly used to register the title of the comic book or a character before the actual first issue/appearance comes out. Typically, a cover, usually a reused cover from a previous publication, is stapled onto a collection of pages, again from previous publications sometimes not even in order, and sent to the U.S. Trademark and Patent Office.
The Action Comics ashcan is unique as it has original art for its cover by Craig Flessel. All Star Comics uses the cover to Flash Comics #1. All American Comics uses the cover to Adventure Comics #33. Wonder Woman uses the cover to Sensation Comics #1 and World’s Best Comics uses the cover to Action Comics #23.
The Flash Comics with Captain Marvel is also unique as this is just one of three attempts at Fawcett Comics trying to register not only the comic title but also their character “Captain Thunder.” Their attempt failed on just about all accounts as All-American (now DC) registered Flash Comics, Pines Publishing had registered Thrilling Comics and Fiction House had registered Captain “Terry” Thunder for their publication Jungle Comics. Fawcett was forced to rename their character Captain Marvel and the title of the comic Whiz.
dun Dun DUN!
While doing research for the Superman infographic, I came across this intriguing illustration by pulp artist H.J. Ward. It’s said to be the first time Superman ever appeared in painted form, and is the subject of not one, but two mysteries.
The first mystery was of the painting’s disappearance. It hung on a wall in Harry Donenfeld’s office at DC Comics until he retired in 1957, and then was considered lost for over 50 years. However, a few years ago art historian David Saunders discovered it hanging on the wall at the Lehman College library in New York. You can read the full story on that here.
The other mystery was why an image painted in 1940 has a version of Superman’s emblem that didn’t appear until 1941.The easiest explanation would be that this is the first appearance of the emblem appeared, and it took a year before the artists at DC adopted it.
But wait, what’s this?
This photograph of the same painting hanging in Donenfeld’s office reveals that it was originally painted with the 1939 emblem! Not only that, but he also had a stronger jaw, and his hair was styled differently!
Saunders says the image was originally commissioned to help promote the 1940 radio serial (“an image for a medium you cannot see,” as the New York Times article says). You can see how it was used in this photograph, with the stars of the radio serial:
But this photograph was taken no earlier than 1942. How do I know? Because the microphone says “Mutual,” and the Superman radio series wasn’t broadcast on Mutual until August of 1942, by which time the 1941 emblem was well in use.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the emblem was repainted just for this occasion, especially if it’s true that the painting was originally commissioned for the start of the radio serial in early 1940. Do any photos exist from the original promotional campaign?
But even if they did exist, they wouldn’t be in color. And that’s what saddens me. It appears no color, or even high quality reproduction exists of the painting in its original form.
What’s worse, according to this source the retouching may not have even been done by Ward himself. Instead it was modified by airbrush artist Joseph Szokoli, who was experienced at doing touch-up work. (It’s unknown why he decided to paint the emblem with six sides, the only time Superman’s shield has been represented that way.)
The physical painting may have since been found, but in some ways the original still remains lost.