Comic books have been published for over a century, and collectors categorize them into five ‘Ages’: Platinum (1897-1937), Golden (1938-55), Silver (1956-69), Bronze (1970-79) and Modern (1980-present). Rarity, title/issue, and condition determine value. Some popular titles include Spider-Man, Superman, X-Men, Batman, Green Lantern, and Incredible Hulk.

One of the first comic strips was Hogan's Alley, published in 1895 by Richard Felton Outcalt. This strip had the first 'speech bubbles,' and its lead character, The Yellow Kid, had his own book, The Yellow Kid in McFadden's Flats, printed in 1897. This book actually coined the term 'comic book,' and it marks the beginning of the Platinum Age, which ran until 1937.

Subsequent newspaper comic strips such as Mutt and Jeff were reprinted in the form of books, and publishers began experimenting with periodical (weekly) comic books, selling them for 10 cents at newsstands. These pre-superhero comics were mostly pulp stories - tales of detectives, criminals, exotic travel, and adventure. The first costumed hero was The Phantom, who debuted in 1936, and wore a purple costume and black mask.

The Golden Age began in 1937, and comic books, previously meant for adults, now focused more on youth. In 1938 a revolutionary new series, Action Comics #1, introduced Superman, the first comic book character with superhuman abilities. Batman followed a year later, in Detective Comics #27, grittier than Superman, and initially more of a mystery than a superhero comic.

Superman got his own book in 1939 (not shared with other comics), and this new format became the standard for American comic books. The Golden Age lasted until 1955, and introduced characters such as Captain Marvel, The Green Lantern, The Flash, Captain America, Wonder Woman, and The Spectre.

Next came The Silver Age, with the revamping of The Flash, who brought superhero comics back from their post-WW2 slump. During this era Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and other artists at Marvel created some of the best-known comics ever, including superhero teams like Fantastic Four, The Avengers and the X-Men. These comics are known for their characters having more depth, unlike the eternally optimistic heroes of the Golden Age.

Spider-Man first appeared in 1962 to great success, as he was a real, average person with a fantastic alter-ego that readers could relate to. Other characters introduced in this ...

The Bronze Age (1970-1979) broke a lot of rules. Black superheroes, such as the Falcon, appeared, as did foreign heroes like Banshee, Sunfire, and Nightcrawler. Comics as a whole got more 'real,' with The Green Lantern and the Green Arrow teaming up to take on real issues like urban crime and drug abuse. Innocent characters could get killed off, Superheroes could fight spirits, black magic, and more gritty, conflicted, and violent characters such as the Punisher and Wolverine.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Cover Browser

Cover Browser

Philipp Lenssen's incredible archive of over 94,000 comic book covers - Wow! Wham! Yikes! Browse by title from the … [read review or visit site]

Doug Gilford’s Mad Cover Site

Doug Gilford’s Mad Cover Site

Doug Gilford's great Mad Magazine reference site features cover scans and reference information on every issue of t… [read review or visit site]

Jamie Coville's in-progress ode to the history of 20th century comic books. Start with his Newsstand Period Part 1 … [read review or visit site]

Popeye's Thimble Theatre

Popeye's Thimble Theatre

Bruce Shults takes us on a comprehensive Popeye fan tour, from the early comic strips to cartoons and collectible m… [read review or visit site]

Barnacle Press

Barnacle Press

This collection of obscure newspaper comic strips provides scans browsable by title, year and date. Showcases comic… [read review or visit site]

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Stan Sakai Auction-original Mike Mignola Art Usagi Yojimbo Pen/ink Amazing!Stan Sakai Auction-original Walt Simonson Art Thor Pen/ink Stunning!Frank Miller / Klaus Janson - Daredevil 186 Pg 18 - Original Comic Art - SignedMetal Captain America Shield KitSilver Age Key Issue Lot Of 6 Comics Daredevil Showcase Hulk 1st App Worth CgcFantastic Four 52 Cgc 8.0 Htf Investment Book, 1st App. Of Black PantherArt Adams Secret Avengers #4 Cover Original Comic Art Marvel 2004 ValkyrieTales Of Suspense #39 Cgc 5.0 1963 1st Iron Man! Avengers!Journey Into Mystery #83 Cgc 4.0 White Pages Origin & 1st Appearance Of Thor Bowen Designs 1997 Hulk Real Bronze Staute A/p Signed With Alter Ego BustIncredible Hulk # 181 - 1st Full Wolverine - High Grade Fantastic Four 48 Cgc 7.5 Key Issue 1st App Of Silver Surfer And GalactusUncanny X-men #1 Silver Age 1st Issue Incredible Key Wow Solid And CompleteIncredible Hulk Comic #181 Cgc Graded 9.2 Nm- 1st Appearance Wolverine MarvelIncredible Hulk #181 Cgc 8.0 (ow) 1st Appearance Of Wolverine X-men Giant-size X-men #1 Cgc 8.0 White Pages 1st Storm 1st Nightcrawler 1st Colossus The Amazing Spider-man #1 (mar 1963, Marvel) Pgx 5.0 Not Cgc No Reserve!!Daredevil #1 Cgc 7.0 (c-ow) Origin & 1st Appearance Of Daredevil (matt Murdock) Amazing Fantasy #15 (aug 1962, Marvel) Excellent Spine & Color! 1st Spidey App! Amazing Spider-man #300 ('88) Origin 1st App Venom Cgc 9.8 Nm/m Unbeatable!George Perez Original Art Infinity Gauntlet #3 P12 - 16 Marvel Superheroes, 1991Batman Adventures #12 Cgc 9.8 White Pages // 1st Appearance Of Harley QuinnCammy Mixed Media Statue Pop Culture Shock Street Fighter 2 Rare 223/400 In BoxVintage Golden Silver Bronze Age Comic Collection Lot Marvel Dc Spiderman BatmanSuperman #5 Cgc 5.0 Ow/w Lex Luthor Shuster Siegel Dc Golden Age ComicY The Last Man #1 Htf Rare 1st Issue Low Print Nm/nm+Splash Page From Thor #257 - 03/77 Issue - John Buscema & Tony DezunigaAvengers #1 Silver Age Super Huge Historically Key Issue Vg/f Wow Stan Sakai Auction-original Sergio Aragones Art Groo & Rufferto Pen/ink ClassicAmazing Spider-man #1 Cgc 3.0 (c-ow) 1st Issue 1st J. Jonah Jameson AppearanceStan Sakai Auction-original Charles Vess Art Instructions Pg34&35 Painting Wow!Savage Sword Of Conan #36 Page 54 - John Buscema & Alfredo Alcala - Original ArtSandman 1 Cgc 9.8 Tv Show Coming!! Invest In This Now!!The Amazing Spider-man #14 Cgc 8.0 (ow-w) 1st Appearance Of The Green Goblin Avengers #4 1st Silver Age Captain America Enormous Key Issue WowTales To Astonish #13 Cgc 3.5 - 1st Groot No Reserve - Guardians Of The GalaxyNew Mutants # 98 In Cgc 9.8 !! Super Hot,fresh From Cgc !! First Deadpool !!!Marvel 1964 The Amazing Spider-man Annual # 1 F/vf Tmnt Original Artwork 1989, Kevin Eastman "return To New York" #21 Fight SceneWow Silver Age Tales Of Suspense #57 (marvel, 1964) 1st Hawkeye Fn 6.5The Avengers #4 Cgc 6.5 (c-ow) 1st Silver Age Captain America Iron Man Hulk ThorDc Direct Collectibles Pin-up Girl Bombshells Harley Quinn Statue Comic FigureFantastic Four #45 Vol 1 Nm- 9.2 New Set Of High Grade Comics Just Listed!Batman #1 1st Print Dc Comics New 52 (2011) 1:25 Ethan Van Sciver VariantCable Bowen Statue Retro Version Not Sideshow Wolverine Gambit Giant Size X-men #1 Bronze Age 1st New Team Huge Key WowNew Mutants #98 Marvel Comics (1991) First Appearance Of Deadpool Superior Spider-man #20 J. Scott Campbell Variant Nm Or Better New Mutants (1st Series) #98 1st Appearance Of Deadpool, Gideon And Domino FAvengers #57 Vol 1 Very High Grade Unrestored Nm- 9.2 1st Appearance Of Vision!Iron Man 55 Cgc 7.5 Super Hot Key Issue!! 1st App Of ThanosSideshow Cyclops Premium Format Figure Exclusive Pf Statue Ex Marvel X-menBatman: The Dark Knight Returns #1 Cgc 9.8 Frank Miller Dc 3/1986Hal Foster Prince Valiant Papers W/sunday Page Pencil Layout & Sketches! Nr!Fantastic Four # 48 Cgc 8.0 !! Classic First Silver Surfer !! Awesome Book !!Captain America 117 Cgc 9.0 Origin And 1st App. Of Falcon Key Issue! Miracleman 15 Cgc 9.8 "death" Of Kid Miracleman Investment CopyNew Mutants 98 High Grade 1st Deadpool 1st Print Direct EditionJourney Into Mystery 83 Cgc 6.5 Apparent Fine+ Ow/white Pages First ThorThe Avengers #1 Cgc Graded 5.0 1963

Recent News: Comic Books

Source: Google News

Bucks buyers like big-time investing, poker, mountain climbing
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, April 19th

One is a hedge-fund heavyweight with a passion for poker and a zest for collecting vintage comic books and swanky homes. The other is a lanky, laconic private equity guy who navigates the hills and valleys of high-stakes investing just like the...Read more

Long after we're gone, our online witterings will endure
The Guardian, April 18th

I'd like to see their figures, but assuming for a moment they're right, that's more than all of my vintage comic books and "useful" computer cables put together. How might I bequeath that notionally valuable asset to my descendants? I wouldn't like to...Read more

Comic Con brand brings show to Tulsa for first time ever
KRMG, April 17th

The best-known brand in comic-book conventions, Wizard World's Comic Con, is coming to Tulsa for the first time ever. The Comic Con brand is the cream of the crop to comic collectors and sci-fi fans. The lineup of stars set to appear in Tulsa includes...Read more

Today in Indie Comics: Zac Gorman's Magical Game Time
The Mary Sue, April 16th

Magical Game Time updates erratically once or twice a month, and you can buy related prints, pins, posters, apparel, and a published comic collection at the site's store. Alana is a freelance writer and editor who loves reading and supporting small...Read more

Jings crivvens! Small fortunes paid for The Broons and Oor Wullie annuals
STV Edinburgh, April 16th

Jings crivvens! Small fortunes paid for The Broons and Oor Wullie annuals. There are clearly some keen comic collectors out there who don't mind splashing some serious cash. Hi, it's Bronwyn here and I'll be taking you into the night, but first check...Read more

Comic dealer sells rare Beano first issue
The Argus, April 15th

A vintage comic dealer is putting a collectors dream up for auction with an exceedingly rare first issue of the Beano. Phil Shrimpton, a collector and dealer from Seaford, is running the eBay auction which has a starting price ... Mr Shrimpton runs...Read more

Dark Engine #1, Your Latest Shiny Shiny Hole In Your Comic Collection From ...
Bleeding Cool News, April 15th

Dark Engine #1, Your Latest Shiny Shiny Hole In Your Comic Collection From Image Comics In July. Posted on April 15, 2014 by Rich Johnston · Tweet · Share on Tumblr · Comments · image. Ryan Burton and John Bivens have a new dark fantasy action ...Read more

A Theater Troupe That Performs Vintage Comic Books
LA Weekly, April 7th

In 1954, the massive, and popular, comic books industry changed forever. Those heavily visual narrative tales provoked outrage amongst the grown-ups who believed these books would lead to the ruin of a generation of youngsters. Psychiatrist Fredric ...Read more