FW Presents – DC Comics Before Superman


Rob speaks with author Nicky Wheeler-Nicholson, author of the book DC COMICS BEFORE SUPERMAN: MAJOR MALCOM WHEELER-NICHOLSON'S PULP COMICS!

Check out some images from the book here: http://fireandwaterpodcast.com/podcast/fwpdcbsmgallery

Buy the book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/DC-Comics-Before-Superman-Wheeler-Nicholsons/dp/1613451644

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15 responses to “FW Presents – DC Comics Before Superman

  1. Rob and Nicky, thank you both for this interview. I’m still pleased we got to have a comment exchange over Sandra of the Secret Service, so hearing her talk about her work at length is like an embarrassment of riches. I had no idea that DC Comics Before Superman contained not only a biography of the major, not only the story of the early DC creators and their work, but also examples of the work itself! I look forward to reading my own copy soon.

    I very much enjoyed hearing the way things really happened. It’s a shame that the Major, who was genuinely fighting for truth, justice, and the American way when he served, had to end his military career before he wanted to. But if he hadn’t, he might never have created comics as we know them, and history would be entirely different. The comics industry even played a supporting role In the war effort before and during World War II, so his legacy continued serving even as he was informing the American public with his writing.

    Human nature still hasn’t changed, and after the Major left the Army, some senior military leaders continued to react poorly to being proven wrong. I cite the cases of Billy Mitchell and Claire Chennault as evidence.

    I can also confirm that to this day, the service will try to prevent you from making “bad” career choices regarding assignments. Sometimes our career objectives are different than the personnel center’s, and sometimes, as in the Major’s case, we have a different idea of how to get there. I was still a lieutenant when I heard the third or fourth senior officer tell an audience that his or her career was a fluke and shouldn’t be used as a model. At that point, I realized that they’re all flukes, the recommended path is only a guideline, and I should try to go where I would serve most effectively. Sometimes I got what I wanted and sometimes I didn’t, but each assignment made me better whether I wanted it to or not.

    Thank you both again!

    1. Thanks Captain Entropy! Much appreciated. If you’re on FB come join us in the MWN group. Also check out the Major’s website. I’ve written a number of posts on the Major’s military career especially on the Buffalo Soldiers. Cheers. Nicky

      1. Nicky, I eschew most social media due to lack of time and chronic distractability, but like the Fire and Water Network, that group might be too much temptation to ignore.

        I’ll definitely check out the Major’s page. My first exposure to the Buffalo Soldiers’ legendary achievements was when I spent some time at an air base out west that was built on top of an old Buffalo Soldier fort. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the Tuskegee Airmen — the aviation equivalent of the Buffalo Soldiers, with a similarly amazing record of performance — but I’ve always found their stories deeply inspiring. One of the great gifts I received as a result of military service was getting to meet one and listen to his stories one evening at an officers club in Montgomery. Dreaming Eagles is a fictionalized comic account of a Tuskegee Airman and his son, who becomes involved In the civil rights movement in the sixties. I recommend it highly.

        I’m happy that there is documented evidence that the Major influenced Superman’s first flight, and that Action Comics #1 was a deliberate gamble by people who believed in the character. I never thought the other version of the story made sense, given that National gave Superman the cover and the lead story of a title launch.

        Thanks again!

  2. Great episode! I’m so glad to know something of the enigmatic Major Wheeler-Nicholson, who , in almost every DC history I have ever read, is often treated as some ghost of a person who kinda-sorta founded the company. Clearly the influence of Lebowitz and Donnenfeld was still being felt decades and decades later, and history is written by the victors. It’s so wonderful to see that the Major’s actual contribution to the industry is finally being acknowledged. I look forward to reading this book!


  3. Thanks Chris! I do my best to stay positive but I am way over the sorta kinda started the company scenario. Now with the ATT takeover I’m concerned it’s going to be deja vu all over again as the great Yogi Berra said. Let me know what you think about the book. And if you’re on FB come join us in the MWN group. Cheers.

  4. Thanks for this. I just ordered the book straight from the publisher for $30. I also just ordered New Fun as I had been going back and forth on that. Can’t wait to see them as I love comics history.

  5. Are you familiar with Mike’s Amazing World of DC History podcast? Nice podcast about this early time in DC history from the creator of one of our favorite websites.

  6. Thanks for a splendid show, all I ‘knew’ about the Major was that he was an adventurer, and I’ve seen a picture of him in a pith helmet…. how lovely to get a more rounded portrait. Cheers, Nicky and Rob.

  7. What a great interview! Not only am I a sucker for books about comics history, I’m also a sucker for endnotes! Thanks, for doing proper research, Nicky! Also, I believe Nicky is the first person I’ve heard on this network mention the full name of the writer who “blew up his career!”

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