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AC Comics Heroes

Along with Pacific, First, and Eclipse Comics, AC Comics was a pioneer of the independent direct market for color comics in the early 1980s, distributing comics directly to a new network of specialty shops. While the other three companies are long gone and many indie publishers are now known for steering clear of superheroes, preferring not to compete with industry giants Marvel and DC Comics’ specialty, AC Comics publisher Bill Black built his company on costumed characters and it prospers to this day. Having already created an interwoven universe of supertypes in his black-and-white Paragon Publications line of the 1970s, Black began bringing them to comic-shop shelves in full color, starting with the very first official AC Comics publication (or “Americomics” as the company was called until 1984), Fun Comics #4.

African-American Heroes

In 1990, DC Comics editorial director Dick Giordano was asked by one of his young staff editors why virtually all of the DC superheroes were white: "Because they were created in the 1940s by Jews and Italians who wrote and drew what they knew," he replied.

From Invisibility to Comic Relief

Superhero comic books have mirrored societal trends since their inception, and when the medium originated in the late 1930s, African Americans cast no reflection: Segregation made blacks invisible to most whites.

Adam Strange

Among the many things gripping the imaginations of children in the late 1950s were the emerging superheroes of the Silver Age of comics (1956–1969) and the beginnings of the space race. DC Comics decided to combine those two interests by launching a pair of space heroes in its tryout comic book Showcase. The first to appear was the futuristic spaceman, Space Ranger, while the second (who premiered in Showcase #17 in late 1958) was Adam Strange, overseen by longtime science fiction fan and editor Julius Schwartz. His first choice as artist was Carmine Infantino, but, as Infantino was currently entertaining the troops in Korea, Mike Sekowsky was drafted in for the three Showcase issues. When these proved popular, Strange moved over to the Mystery in Space comic, where he enjoyed a run of fifty issues, most of them drawn by Infantino and written by the prolific Gardner Fox.

Action Girl

Erica Smith is a student at Hayley High, located in a small town on the West Coast, some time in the near future. A bit bored and frustrated with the usual issues surrounding adolescence and trying to make her way in life, Smith discovers the costume and personal effects of a forgotten crime-fighting female aviator of the 1940s, Action Girl. Inspired by the Amelia Earhart–like story of Action Girl’s life and bravery, Smith decides to assume the hero’s name and identity herself. Clad in the original Action Girl’s vintage jacket with an “AG” logo on the chest, tothe- knee wrestling boots, and flared skirt, Smith becomes the costumed crime fighter’s successor, leaving the confines of her bedroom hideout to fight against typical teenage angst. Her signature quote: “Action is everything!”

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