TIME radio

Listen to Superman’s First-Ever Radio Episode

Action Comics No. 1 Introducing Superman
Hulton Archive / Getty Images Cover illustration of the comic book Action Comics No. 1 featuring the first appearance of the character Superman, June 1938

Superman's first radio serial premiered 75 years ago today

It’s a bird, it’s a — well, you know.

By now, Superman’s legendary introduction needs no introduction. But, on this day in 1940, when the Man of Steel made his first foray into the audio serial format, listeners heard them emerge from the radio for the first time.

Though Superman (introduced in print form in 1938) would have several on-air incarnations, he started his radio days in a thrice-weekly show, The Adventures of Superman. At the time, he also appeared in comic form in dozens of U.S. newspaper, in addition to dedicated issues of Action Comics and Superman Quarterly. There were 100,000 members of his fan club, but not everyone loved him equally, as TIME reported in the Feb. 26, 1940, issue:

Superman comes on the air with a shrill, shrieking sound effect (combination of a high wind and a bomb whine, recorded in the Spanish war). Voices hail him with: “Up in the sky—look! It’s a bird. . . . It’s a plane. . . . It’s SUPERMAN!” Superman or no superman, he has to watch his step on the radio. Mothers’ clubs have their eyes on him, the Child Study Association of America feels that his occasional rocket & space ship jaunts are a bit too improbable. By radio’s own war rules, he must remain neutral, may mix in no international intrigues, rub out no Hitlers. So last week Superman cleaned up a local mob bent on wrecking the Silver Clipper, a streamliner train; caught them after a quick repair job near Denver, heaving 20 tons of rock off a trestle and replacing missing rails in a jiffy.

Neither Superman nor Clark Kent appeared in the first episode, however. Instead, it tells of the destruction of Krypton — as you can hear for yourself below, via the Internet Archive:

Read original coverage of the debut of Superman’s radio serial, here in the TIME Vault: H-O Superman

TIME Books

Scribd Launches Its ‘Netflix for Comics’ With More Than 10,000 Titles

Access to thousands of comic book titles costs only $8.99 a month

The e-book and audiobook subscription service that has been likened to a “Netflix for books” is now expanding to comic books.

Subscribers to Scribd will have access to more than 10,000 comic books, in addition to the pre-existing library of e-books and audio-books, as a part of the San Francisco-based start-up’s $8.99 monthly fee, Wired reports.

“We’re really tailoring our service to die-hard voracious readers, and we’re servicing publishers to bring them this audience that we have,” Scribd’s vice president of editorial and marketing, Julie Haddon, said Tuesday.

The company says it is the first subscription service to offer such broad a selection of comics alongside audiobooks and e-books. Scribd isn’t the only company trying to apply a binge-able, online subscription model to books: Oyster offers over a million titles for a $9.95 monthly fee, and Amazon launched its Kindle Unlimited service last summer with a $9.99 monthly fee and more than 600,000 titles.

[Wired]

TIME Comics

You’re Going to Be Able to Buy Mickey and Donald Comic Books Once Again

Mickey Mouse congratulates coming-of-age ceremony attendants
Kyodo/AP Mickey Mouse congratulates those who attended a coming-of-age ceremony at Tokyo Disneyland in Urayasu, near Tokyo, Japan, on Jan. 12, 2015

First up: Uncle Scrooge No. 1

Timeless Disney icons are to reappear in comic stores around the U.S. starting this April.

IDW Publishing, one of the largest publishers of comics in the U.S., will use its license to the perennial Disney favorites to reprint translated versions of classic Disney comics that were originally published in foreign languages overseas, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

First will be Uncle Scrooge No. 1, followed by reprints of erstwhile titles Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Walt Disney Comics and Stories before July.

All of the comics will be adorned with new covers themed after Walt Disney resorts like Fantasyland, Tomorrowland and Adventureland.

San Diego-based IDW also holds licenses to publish comics and print spinoffs from franchises such as Star Trek and Doctor Who. Although Marvel Entertainment, owned by Disney, boasts exclusive rights to Disney theme park-related characters, IDW has the right to classic Disney icons.

[THR]

TIME Comics

Bill Watterson Drew a New Comic, and It’s Really Funny

WATTERSON
C.H. Pete Copeland—The Plain Dealer/AP Bill Watterson, creator of the syndicated cartoon strip "Calvin & Hobbes" is shown in this Feb. 24, 1986 file photo at his home in Chagrin Falls, Ohio.

The 15-panel comic was created by Watterson for France's 2015 Angoulême International Comics Festival

Bill Watterson, the reclusive cartoonist behind Calvin and Hobbes, has created a new comic. But don’t go looking for it in your local newspaper.

Watterson’s latest strip was created in celebration of France’s 2015 Angoulême International Comics Festival. In 2014, Watterson received the Grand Prix award at the festival, its highest honor, for his esteemed comic about an imaginative little boy named Calvin and his wise stuffed tiger Hobbes. Since retiring the cartoon in 1995, Watterson rarely illustrates strips. One exception is a poster he drew for the recent comic strip documentary, Stripped.

In an interview, Watterson said he drew his latest comic without text in order to break any language barriers. “Telling a story only in pictures is one of the great strengths — and greatest pleasures — offered by comics,” Watterson said.

TIME movies

Meet Captain Marvel: Fighter Pilot, Feminist and Marvel’s Big Gamble

Marvel Captain Marvel

The Gloria Steinem-inspired character will be the first woman to get her own Marvel movie

If you’re not a comic book fan, you probably hadn’t heard of Captain Marvel before last week — and you likely wouldn’t have guessed that she’s a woman.

Last Tuesday, Marvel Studios announced that the Carol Danvers, a.k.a. Captain Marvel, will be the first female superhero to get her own Marvel Studios movie in 2017. She will be in good company: Both Wonder Woman and a unnamed female character from the Spider-Man universe will get their own treatments that year too.

The decision came as a shock even to the Captain Marvel comics writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick, who after neglecting to return a phone call from her editor, found out through her Twitter feed. She responded by tweeting, “Did not see this coming.” And if the movies stay true to the comic books, the fighter pilot with half-alien DNA and a passing resemblance to Gloria Steinem in both looks and feminist conviction will be a far cry from the damsels in distress audiences have grown accustomed to seeing in superhero films.

The former Air Force pilot — who DeConnick says is meant to have the swagger of record-setting pilot Chuck Yeager — can fly and shoot beams out of her hands. And she fits nicely in the universe of cocky, wisecracking heroes that we’ve seen since the first Iron Man movie: She’s a control freak with a big ego and a quick temper. In fact, Danvers may prove to be a lynchpin in the Marvel universe. In the comics, she’s a member of the Avengers and works closely with the Guardians of the Galaxy. Marvel Studios has yet to announce whether Danvers will appear in either of these series, but it’s safe to assume that tapping someone connected to both universes wasn’t a mistake. Plus it can’t hurt that the company’s name is in her title.

In short: she’s more than just a sexy spandex uniform.

DeConnick has a personal mission to put an end to such reductive characterizations of women in pop culture. “The test that I always give young writers is if you can take out your female character and replace her with a sexy lamp and your plot still functions, you’re doing it wrong,” says DeConnick. “You would be surprised how many times this is actually done. These women are purely there to inspire or motivate or reward or sometimes decorate. I don’t want all of our female characters to be good or to be role models. I just want them to have an interior life. If you can’t answer for me what does this character want in this scene, you’re not writing a woman, you’re writing a lamp. Start over.”

Seems simple, but in the long history of superhero franchises, audiences have seen a lot of sexy lamps. Until recent years, the accepted wisdom has been that young men (the target audience for these superhero films) will not watch movies with a female protagonist. Naysayers cited flops like Catwoman and Elektra to back up this claim.

It’s entirely possible that no one saw these movies because they were terrible (Catwoman scores 9% on Rotten Tomatoes and Elektra scores 10%). But DeConnick also points out that women have been trained from a young age to cross-identify with male characters simply because of the dearth of strong female protagonists in our culture. With thousands of male protagonists on TV and in movies, men have never been forced to do the same. This makes it harder for them to relate to women characters, so studios make fewer movies starring female protagonists, perpetuating the cycle.

“And when you get into the sociology with status, everyone wants to identify up, to aspire up,” she says. “So if you are female and therefore lower status in terms of your cultural power, it’s much more comfortable to identify up with a male hero than it is for men to identify down to a lower status.” That’s problematic given how popular superhero movies are. Marginalizing half the population teaches young girls that men’s values and aspirations should come before their own, DeConnick says, and it teaches young boys not to view the women in their lives as fully rounded human beings. Unfortunately, movie studios are motivated by money, not by equality issues.

But then The Hunger Games and Jennifer Lawrence burned down the box office, and everything changed. Studios started wondering how they could mimic the success of the Girl on Fire. The obvious answer: Superheroes, hence the rush to fill 2017 with potential blockbusters starring ladies with superpowers. And before those movies hit theaters, networks are testing the waters on TV: Agent Carter, based on the female character from the first Captain America movie, will premiere in January and a Supergirl TV series is slated for sometime next year.

The change can’t come soon enough. In 2013 — the year of The Hunger Games sequel and Frozen — just 30% of all speaking roles went to women and only 15% of all protagonists were female. Marvel has done a better job than most at rectifying this issue by featuring kick-ass heroines who pass the “sexy lamp” test as part of the ensemble in several films. Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow has become a fan favorite after appearances in the Avengers, Iron Man and Captain America films, and Zoe Saldana’s Gamora debuted as the “most dangerous woman in the universe” in Guardians of the Galaxy.

“If you can take out your female character and replace her with a sexy lamp and your plot still functions, you’re doing it wrong.”Still, there’s a lot to be desired, even in the most progressive blockbusters. Many critics have said, for instance, that Black Widow is just eye candy in the Avengers movie. “That’s objectively untrue!” says DeConnick. “I think The Avengers is a Black Widow movie. She saves the day. And if you take her out, the plot does not function.”

It’s true that without Black Widow’s success, Marvel never would have greenlit a Captain Marvel movie. But the popularity of Black Widow does not guarantee that Captain Marvel will be successful, especially considering Carol Danvers’ background is as political as it is supernatural. Danvers only became Captain Marvel in 2012 after a push from DeConnick’s former editor Steve Wacker. Before then, she was Ms. Marvel, created in the 1970s with a nod to the feminist publication Ms. Magazine. In one plotline, Carol Danvers leaves NASA to take a job as an editor at Woman Magazine. “She wore oversized glasses and blond, middle-parted hair and neck scarves,” says DeConnick. “It was Gloria Steinem fan fiction in the most literal sense.”

Decades later, Ms. Marvel had lost some of her luster. Wacker liked the character but felt the name was a little dated. He wanted to transform Danvers into a character his daughter would aspire to be, much in the same way his son aspires to be Peter Parker (Spider-Man). “As sappy as it sounds, I couldn’t imagine her or other little girls dreaming of being Ms. Marvel. But Captain Marvel. She sounds like the greatest hero in the world,” says Wacker. The original Captain Marvel had died about 20 years before, and though some characters had picked up the name since (including another woman) none had stuck.

In 2012, the female Captain Marvel premiered to much fanfare and controversy. In fact, Marvel Comics has come under fire several times in the last couple of years for promoting female heroines, including when they gave the old title of Ms. Marvel to a Muslim woman in 2013 and when a woman took up Thor’s hammer earlier this year. “The usual suspects get very angry, and they’re certain Marvel is ruined forever, and then everyone forgets about it and we just keep going,” says Wacker. “It’s been the same way for 75 years.”

Embracing diversity, Marvel executives say, has been a mission of the company since the years of Stan Lee, when the former Marvel president would pen essays about diversity and feminism in the back of the comics. But the imperative has become more pressing in recent years thanks to the Marvel Studios movies. The Marvel name has become more influential than ever and, to quote a Stan Lee Marvel comic, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

But the question still remains: Will she make any money? If Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman fail in the same way that Catwoman did, it will be hard to convince movie executives that it’s worth gambling on female superheroes again.

Wacker isn’t worried. “I think if we can sell a talking raccoon in Guardians of the Galaxy to the masses,” he says, laughing, “we can do this.”

Read next: A Comic Book Dummy’s Guide to the Marvel Universe Plan

TIME Television

Fox Is Developing an Archie TV Series

The Riverdale gang is heading to the small screen

Fox is heading to Riverdale. Archie Comics confirmed Thursday that the cable channel is developing a one-hour drama series based on the beloved comic characters.

The series will follow comic favorites Archie Andrews, Jughead Jones, Veronica Lodge, Betty Cooper and Reggie Mantle, along with a newer addition to the Riverdale world: Kevin Keller, a gay character who was introduced in 2010. THR adds that the gang will “explore the surrealistic twists of small-town life, in addition to the darkness and weirdness bubbling beneath [their hometown] Riverdale’s wholesome facade.”

The series, which is being produced by Warner Bros. TV-based Berlanti Productions and The Arrow‘s Greg Berlanti, will be penned by former Glee scribe and current chief creative officer at Archie Comics Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa.

“This is something we’ve been working on for awhile now, figuring out the best way to bring these characters to life for what will be, essentially, the first time,” Aguirre-Sacasa said in a statement. “The entire team working on Riverdale is as passionate about Archie as Jon [Goldwater, Archie Comics publisher/co-CEO] and I are, so it feels like the stars have finally aligned for Archie and the rest of the gang.”

It seems as though the in-the-works TV series is just the latest in a string of moves keeping the Archie universe current; earlier this year, Aguirre-Sacasa tapped Lena Dunham to write her own Archie storyline for the comic.

TIME Comics

See How Marvel’s Wolverine Has Evolved Over The Years

The iconic superhero turns 40

From Logan to James Howlett, the iconic Marvel superhero most people know simply as Wolverine has gone by many names and even more costumes since he was first introduced as a cameo in The Incredible Hulk #180 in October 1974. In honor of Wolverine’s 40th anniversary in October 2014, take a look back at the many renditions he’s seen over the years since his creation.

A version of this infographic first appeared on HalloweenCostumes.com.

TIME Media

See How Peanuts Addressed Feminism, Nuclear War and More

An exhibit at the Charles M. Schulz Museum highlights Charlie Brown's place in a changing society

Peanuts, which debuted on this day in 1950, is sometimes remembered for the cute kids and dogs that filled the comic strip’s boxes — but, as an exhibit now on show at the Charles M. Schulz Museum shows, that didn’t mean it stayed away from weighty topics.

Rather, Schulz, who created Peanuts, used Charlie Brown, Snoopy and their friends to talk about some of the most controversial issues out there. Schulz didn’t often take sides, but rather — as can be seen in the examples shown here — let his characters prompt readers to think a little more deeply.

Social Commentary is on view at the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, Calif., through Nov. 2.

Captions above courtesy of the Charles M. Schulz Museum.

TIME

Good Ol’ Charles Schulz: The ‘Peanuts’ Creator at Home

Sixty-four years after the Oct. 2, 1950, debut of Peanuts in a handful of newspapers, LIFE.com presents photos of its creator, Charles Schulz, at home and at play with his family in 1967.

It takes a special kind of genius to transform frustration, insecurity, anxiety, clumsiness and outright failure into something so sympathetic and universal that literally hundreds of millions of people embrace your creative output as part of their lives. Comedians, of course, have mined the humor inherent in personal debasement for years — although, with an awful lot of “confessional” comedy, one has to dig through mountains of wretched, indulgent material before finding a nugget of self-revelation that feels even remotely sweet-natured or genuinely vulnerable.

Charles M. Schulz, on the other hand, spent decades weaving stories around the central characters in his legendary comic strip, Peanuts, that somehow managed to feel both emphatically G-rated and, whether the reader was a kid or an adult, profoundly, recognizably true. Working in a medium — the newspaper comic strip — that, by its very nature, is among the most transient creative endeavors ever devised by human beings, Schulz conceived a marvelously undramatic world of flawed, generally kind-hearted youngsters muddling through as best they could, and then spent the next half century exploring that world and its inhabitants as compassionately as, say, Faulkner explored Yoknapatawpha County.

Snoopy and Charlie Brown, LIFE magazine, 1967Charlie Brown; Snoopy (and his siblings); Peppermint Patty; Lucy; Linus; the soulful Schroeder; the beloved, never-seen “Little Red-Haired Girl”; the ever-popular Pig-Pen: for generations of readers — and, later, for viewers of the classic Halloween and Christmas TV specials — these and other characters were, and remain, as companionable as old friends.

Here, on the anniversary of the October 2, 1950, debut of Peanuts as a daily newspaper comic strip, LIFE.com presents a series of photos — none of which originally ran in LIFE magazine — of Charles M. Schulz at home and at play with his family in 1967.

There have been flashier comics, and there have been more impressive illustrators and more psychologically complex comic strip characters and more dramatic storytellers in the genre than Charles M. Schulz. But there was never a more influential comic strip than Peanuts, and there was never one more consistently, wonderfully engaging for so many decades.

It’s not easy keeping both kids and adults entertained day after day, week after week, for years on end. But that’s just what Charles M. Schulz did with Charlie Brown and the gang. All things considered, that’s not too shabby a legacy for a shy kid from Minnesota who, from an early age, just really loved to draw.


 

TIME Books

New Alan Moore Comics Coming in December

Alan Moore
Avatar Press

The six-part series is based off Garth Ennis' Crossed

Fans craving new material from graphic novelist and comic book icon Alan Moore have some good news: the man behind Watchmen and V for Vendetta has a six-issue project in the works.

Crossed: +100, a spin-off of Garth Ennis’ sci-fi-horror series Crossed, takes place approximately 100 years after the original outbreak of a plague that reduces humanity to its most evil thoughts, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Gabriel Andrade will illustrate the author’s new set of monthly comics.

“I think people think of Crossed as a horror story, and I can see why. It is extremely horrible,” said Moore in a statement. “[But] I was thinking that Crossed is actually a science fiction story that has got a really, really high horror quotient. So that was the way that I started approaching it.”

Crossed co-creator and writer Garth Ennis likened Moore’s addition to the series as “Jimi Hendrix want[ing] to play in my band” and said it “means everything to me.”

Crossed: +100 arrives in December on Avatar Press.

[THR]

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