All-American Comics is one of the most important titles in DC history as it shared its title with its original publisher All-American Publications which alongside National Allied Publications and Detective Comics evolved into what we now know as DC Comics. The first issue was cover dated April 1939 and was an anthology covering humour and adventure stories.
|All-American Comics #1 (April 1939)|
Art by Sheldon Mayer
|All-American Comics #16 (July 1940)|
Art by Sheldon Moldoff
The Atom made his debut in #19 (October 1940) and Dr Mid-Nite in #25 (April 1941) but Green Lantern remained the star until #100 (August 1948) when Julius Schwartz took over as editor and introduced Johnny Thunder by Bob Kanigher and Alex Toth to capitalise on the interest in the western genre.
|All-American Comics #100 (August 1948)|
Art by Alex Toth
The success of the switch to westerns brought about a name change and so starting with #103 (November 1948) the comic was titled All-American Western.
|All-American Western #103 (November 1948)|
Pencil art by Alex Toth, inks: Frank Giacioa
The interest in the western genre faded and war comics was the next trend so All-American Western became All-American Men of War with #127 (August/September 1952) coinciding with the release of Our Army at War and the re-naming of Star-Spangled Comics under the editorship of the man who shared an office with Julius Schwartz, Bob Kanigher.
|All-American Men of War #127 (August/September 1952)|
Pencil Art by Jerry Grandenetti, inks: Bernard Sachs
|All-American Men of War #2 (December 1952/January 1953)|
Art by Jerry Grandenetti
Kanigher used his team of top artists including Jerry Grandenetti, Russ Heath, Irv Novick, Alex Toth and Joe Kubert to produce a high quality war anthology comic. Gunner and Sarge made their debut in #67 (March 1959) in a story by Bob Kanigher, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito although these characters did not continue in the pages of All-American Men of War but went on to have a long run in Our Fighting Forces. The longest running star feature made his debut in #82 (November/December 1960). Johnny Cloud was a Native American World War II pilot created by Bob Kanigher and Irv Novick who continued to feature in the title until cancellation with #117 (September/October 1966). Johnny Cloud later became a member of The Losers alongside Gunner and Sarge and Captain Storm, initially in G I Combat and subsequently in Our Fighting Forces.
Irv Novick's art for Johnny Cloud was used as a template for Whaam! by Roy Lichtenstein, an early example of "Pop-Art".
Towards the end of the title's life there was an attempt to launch another star feature, Lt. Steve Savage, Balloon Buster, who was an American counterpoint to Enemy Ace. His first appearance was in #112 (November/December 1965) in a story by Bob Kanigher and Russ Heath.
Unfortunately Balloon Buster and Johnny Cloud were not strong enough to sustain the title and it was cancelled with #117 (September/October 1966). The failure to find a popular star feature had caused the demise of this classic title. Attempts to revive it were tried with a Men of War comic which sometimes featured Enemy Ace, but starred Codename: Gravedigger, #1 (August 1977) - #26 (March 1980). More recently the New 52 relaunch by DC saw eight issues of Men of War released with an updated Sgt. Rock, it failed to find an audience.
|All-American Men of War #82 (November/December 1960)|
Art by Irv Novick
|Panel from All-American Men of War #89 (January/February 1962)|
Art by Irv Novick, words: Bob Kanigher
|Swipe by Roy Lichtenstein|
|All-American Men of War #112 (November/December 1965)|
Art by Russ Heath