Developments such as the dawning realization that the mainstream movie-going audience probably doesn’t realize that there is more than one Green Lantern have served as the latest reminder that our corner of the world is pretty convoluted if you don’t live your life hip deep in it like some of us do. And even if you do know your Hal Jordan from your Guy Gardner and John Stewart, concepts in comics can sometimes be stranger than they appear:
1) DC was not the original publisher of Green Lantern
Though his first appearance in All-American Comics #16 does feature the DC Bullet on the cover, at the time on this book that was the sign of a distribution arrangement between Detective Comics Inc. owner Harry Donenfeld and All-American Publications majority owner Max Gaines. Yes, it’s more complicated than that, but few historians would dispute the facts that All American had separate offices and different ownership at that time.
2) Original Green Lantern Creator Martin Nodell also designed Poppin’ Fresh, the Pillsbury Doughboy
Artist Martin Nodell created the original Green Lantern in 1940 at the age of 25. He worked in comics for a decade before moving to advertising, eventually landing at famed Leo Burnett Agency, where he designed the Pillsbury Doughboy in 1965 (and come to think of it, being at Burnett in ’65 should qualify Nodell as one of the original Mad Men)
3) The Original Green Lantern was written by Bill Finger, who was also Batman’s original writer
Bill Finger, credited by many as a co-creator of Batman also created the earliest Green Lantern stories with artist Martin Nodell. Finger contributed heavily to both Batman and Green Lantern mythos, and is underappreciated for someone whose concepts figure so heavily in the industry to this day (as is Nodell, for that matter).
4) Hal Jordan was partly inspired by Actor Paul Newman and the Mercury Project Test Pilots
Artist Gil Kane was inspired by actor Paul Newman for his development of Hal Jordan’s appearance, while writers Gardner Fox and John Broome developed Jordan with influence from the Mercury Seven Astronauts according to the recently-released 75 Years of DC Comics tome.
5) The Original Green Lantern’s First Appearance Almost Became the World’s First Million Dollar Comic
In 2009, long before this year’s spate of 7-figure sales began, the vintage hobby was abuzz with strong rumors that the best copy of All-American #16 was about to change hands for a cool one million dollars. Negotiations between buyer and seller fell apart at the 11th hour. Why would anyone entertain the idea that Green Lantern’s first appearance would break the 7-figure threshold before Superman’s or Batman’s first appearance? Because it is shockingly rare in high grade, even by the standards of 70 year old comics. There is just a single copy of All American 16 CGC certified above fine, compared to 6 copies of Action Comics #1 certified in that range.