This chapter examines precursors to the superhero genre in comic strips and comic books, developing a formalist argument as to why the superhero genre is particularly suited to the comics medium. The discussion covers Hugo Hercules, the first positive presentation of a heroic superman in comics, running in the Chicago Tribune from September 7, 1902 to January 11, 1903; Popeye, introduced into Thimble Theatre in 1929; the cave man Alley Oop, which first appeared in 1933; the Phantom, appearing first daily on February 17, 1936, and then on a Sunday in May of 1939; Olga Mesmer, which ran in Spicy Mystery Stories from August 1937 to October 1938.
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