In "When We First Met", we spotlight the various characters, phrases, objects or events that eventually became notable parts of comic lore, like the first time someone said, "Avengers Assemble!" or the first appearance of Batman's giant penny or the first appearance of Alfred Pennyworth or the first time Spider-Man's face was shown half-Spidey/half-Peter. Stuff like that.
Reader Michael M. wrote in to ask about the first comic book that featured an "infinity cover."
In case you are unfamiliar with the term, an "infinity cover" is a cover where the actions on the cover could theoretically go on forever (or "for infinity"). This is expressed by comic book covers that feature the characters on the cover reading the very comic book that they, themselves, are featuring on. This, of course, creates a feedback loop that, in theory, should go on forever.
Action Comics #500 is a notable example of this type of cover...
But really, this has been a popular cover motif for many years. It likely predated the first comic book (I am pretty darn certain that Judge magazine did one in the late 1910s), but if comic books did not invent the idea, they certainly perfected it (which makes sense, of course, as it is much easier to do an infinity cover with drawings than with photographs, which is why I think the earliest ones in the United States likely came on illustrated magazines like Judge). The 1940s were FILLED with infinity covers...
That, of course, does not answer which was the very FIRST one. So let us take a look (note that with there being so many small publishers during the early days of the Golden Age, there's always the chance that I miiiight have missed one. I'll trust that you folks will let me know if I did).
The answer is a bit tricky, I think. In 1938, Little Giant Comics #1 came out. It was brand-new comic strip material done in the traditional flip book format. The Martin Filchock cover has a snake charmer who tries to charm a snake, but when the snake comes out, its head is the cover of Little Giant Comics #1!
That probably SHOULD count as an infinity cover, right? So that's probably the answer.
If you want more of a traditional infinity cover as your answer, three years later, Fred Ray and Jerry Robinson did a classic one for the cover of Batman #8...
So, I guess you could pick between those two options, Michael! I lean towards the Little Giant Comics #1 being the official first one, myself.
Thanks to Michael for the suggestion!
If anyone else has a question about a notable comic book first, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!