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DC Comics, Inc. is an American comic book publisher and the flagship business of DC Entertainment, which is a part of Warner Bros. Global Brands and Experiences, which is a subsidiary of AT&T’s WarnerMedia Studios & Networks division.
DC Comics is one of the largest and oldest comic book publishers in the United States. The bulk of the company’s publications are set in the fictitious DC Universe and feature a slew of culturally renowned heroes including Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. The Justice League, the Justice Society of America, and the Teen Titans are just a few of the most well-known and recognizable teams.
In addition to the superheroes, the world has many well-known supervillains such as Lex Luthor, the Joker, and Deathstroke. Under its alternate imprint Vertigo, the business has published non-DC Universe content like Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Fables, and many other publications.
DC Comics’ offices have been situated at 480 and subsequently 575 Lexington Avenue, 909 Third Avenue, 75 Rockefeller Plaza, 666 Fifth Avenue, and 1325 Avenue of the Americas, all in Manhattan. DC Entertainment’s offices were previously situated at 1700 Broadway in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, but in April 2015, the company relocated to Burbank, California.
Penguin Random House Publisher Services distributes DC Comics’ books to bookstores. At the same time, Diamond Comic Distributors served the comics shop direct market until June 2020, when Lunar Distribution and UCS Comic Distributors, who had previously served the direct market due to Diamond’s distribution interruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic, took over.
In 2017, DC Comics and its longtime primary competitor Marvel Comics (bought in 2009 by The Walt Disney Company, WarnerMedia’s main competitor) shared around 70% of the American comic book market, however this figure may be skewed because graphic novels are not included. DC is the second-largest publisher, behind Viz Media, while Marvel is the third-largest publisher.
National Allied Publications was formed in Autumn 1934 by entrepreneur Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson as an American comic book publishing firm. With a cover date of February 1935, the company’s first publication was the tabloid-sized New Fun: The Big Comic Magazine #1 (the first in a comic series subsequently dubbed More Fun Comics). Unlike many previous comic book series, this anthology title is crucial for featuring unique stories that are not reproduced from newspaper strips.
While superhero comics are what DC Comics is renowned for today, the genres in the anthology series were initially comprised of comedy, Western comics, and adventure stories. Doctor Occult, created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in December 1935 for New Fun Comics issue No. 6, is regarded to be the first recurring superhero established by DC that is still in use.
The firm developed a second regular book, New Comics No. 1, which debuted in December 1935 and launched the long-running Adventure Comics series, which included several anthology volumes.
Detective Comics, Wheeler-second Nicholson’s and last publication, was promoted with a cover illustration dated December 1936, but it didn’t debut until March 1937, three months later. The thematic anthology, which originally focused on fictional detective adventures, has become the world’s longest-running continuing comic series. Slam Bradley, a character developed by Malcom-Wheeler-Nicholson, Jerry Siegel, and Joe Shuster, appeared in the inaugural issue.
In 1937, Wheeler-Nicholson was forced to take on Harry Donenfeld as a partner to publish Detective Comics No. 1 due to a debt owed to Harry Donenfeld, a printing plant owner and magazine distributor. They also published pulp magazines and was a principal in the magazine distributorship Independent News. Wheeler-Nicholson and Jack S. Liebowitz, Donenfeld’s accountant, were identified as owners of Detective Comics, Inc. (which would help inspire the acronym DC).
Major Wheeler-Nicholson stayed for a year, but financial flow issues persisted, and he was compelled to resign. Shortly after, in a bankruptcy auction, Detective Comics, Inc. bought the remaining assets of National Allied, also known as Nicholson Publishing.