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When Was the First Comic Book Corner Box?

by  in CBR Exclusives, Comics, Comic News Comment
When Was the First Comic Book Corner Box?

This is Comic Book Questions Answered, where people write in to brianc@cbr.com to ask comic book questions and I, well, you know, answer them.

Reader Andrew R. wrote in to ask:

Comics’ cover have a box on the left hand side of the page – normally company logo, issue number & price, and approved by the CCA.

When did this box, or versions there of, begin to appear, let alone become common place?

The basic concept of the corner box is that back in the old days, when comic books were mostly displayed either on magazine racks (where books would be staggered on top of each other) or on a spinner rack, sometimes only the TOP of a comic book cover would be visible to people. Therefore, comic book companies would make sure to have something interesting at the top of the comic to let you know what you were dealing with.

In Action Comics, an anthology that quickly became just about Superman, they kept trying to make the “anthology” aspect of the comic work, including having features other than Superman on the cover (why did they bother? I have no idea). They realized that that was a dumb idea, so they made sure to have Superman featured on the cover in a corner drawing starting with Action Comics #16…

This became a common thing for lots of comic book companies – showing the character in the comic in a corner drawing. However, they were not what you would consider corner boxes just yet, as they didn’t have the issue number or anything like that. They were just small drawings like this Action Comics one.

No, it would not be until Fantastic Four #14 that the corner box as we now know it was born…

Marvel then went all in on corner boxes, using them on all of their titles (even advertising how you should look for the Marvel corner box to know you got a Marvel comic).

By 1970, even DC had to join it…

But they quickly abandoned it and went back to their previous approach of having stuff across the top of the comic (like the infamous go-go checkerboard strips they had for a while in the late 1960s).

In 1983, right around the same time that DC put the Comics Code Authority into their version of the corner box for the first time…

Marvel also did so, creating the iconic corner box format that most comic book fans are familiar with…drawing of character, issue number, date and Comics Code authority…

DC would start following suit in 1990…

Thanks for the question, Andrew! If anyone ELSE has a question, just drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com!

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