Detective Comics gave the world Batman in 1939.
DC stands for Detective Comics, though the company has its origins in 1934 with National Allied Productions. That company was founded by entrepreneur Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson, and it wouldn’t become DC for almost a decade. In the pages of that first title was not only Batman, but Superman as well, who debuted as an Action Comics title. DC Comics originated in New York, however its headquarters moved to Burbank, California in 2015.
This comic book company formed the foundation for what would become a major industry, one that’s spanned nearly a century and spawned a massive array of products. The characters from DC are known worldwide, woven into the fabric of society.
The characters of the DC universe extend across dozens of comic book titles. A few of its culturally iconic superhero creations include Wonder Woman, Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Shazam, the Flash, Green Arrow, Supergirl, Black Canary, Static Shock, Cyborg, and Aquaman. These characters exist in the fictional DC Universe. In that universe are teams like the Justice League, the Suicide Squad, and Teen Titans. Prominent villains and anti-heroes include Poison Ivy, Catwoman, Lex Luthor, the Joker, Harlequin, Black Manta, Deathstroke, Bane, the Penguin, and the Scarecrow.
The list of highly recognizable characters and settings from DC Comics goes on and on.
Outside of the DC Universe, the company publishes a huge variety of material, often under its imprint Vertigo. These include V for Vendetta and Watchmen.
Since 1967, DC Comics has been a subsidiary of Warner Bros. Entertainment. As an extension of Warner Bros., DC is one of the largest and oldest comic book publishers in the world.
Warner Bros. has taken the DC family of comics and translated onto the screen. The impact of DC comics in film and television is difficult to overstate. Television shows like Batman, Smallville, Green Arrow, and Wonder Woman have proven to be big business for decades. Warner Bros. has produced massive films for DC as well, including several series of Batman films, Superman films, and the Justice League. There is even a series of Lego movies based on characters from the DC Universe. For the Vertigo imprint, movies and shows based on Watchmen and V for Vendetta have been produced by Warner Bros.
There are toys and products of every shape and size based on DC characters and licensed through Warner Bros. Rollercoasters and theme park rides are also in the mix.
From early on, DC Comics has had a deep and abiding rivalry with Marvel Comics. Together with Marvel, DC shares seventy percent of the American comic book market. This number does not include graphic novels, which are a separate but related product line. When graphic novels are included, DC is the second largest publisher of graphic reading materials, after Viz Media and ahead of Marvel.
The rivalry with Marvel extends far beyond books, however. Marvel Studios has dominated DC at the box office as well as in critical support in recent decades.
After nearly a century in business and with characters who have become part of worldwide culture, DC Comics remains a culturally important, not to mention highly profitable, business.