Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson, our pater familias, known as “the Major” was the founder of DC Comics, created the first comic books with original scripts and original art and discovered Siegel and Shuster of Superman fame among just a few events in his adventurous life. The nice people at ComicCon decided they would induct him into the Hall of Fame this July 2008 and so after 70 odd years he is finally being acknowledged by the industry he began.
Although the people at ComicCon seem puzzled by our enthusiasm at the award–they don’t think anybody knows who the Major is, or cares–we, the family are excited and pleased. We believe that with an award of this prestigious nature and the ComicCon event, that we have an opportunity to present ourselves and lift the discourse about the Major out of the gutter where it has recently been flung by a few people who seem to have some kind of weird axe to grind over someone who hasn’t been with us since 1965!
Other than a few friends in the world of comics, our family has not been closely involved with comics since the events of 1938. Not being in the loop we had no idea that a few people seemed intent on turning the Major into a cartoon villain. Much of what has been written about him particularly in the last ten years and regurgitated on the web is erroneous. Things have gotten so bad, that completely absurd and ridiculous statements are being made as fact without even a single so-called journalist approaching our family for a photograph, much less an interview. (And with a name like Wheeler-Nicholson, we can’t be that hard to find!) These journalists are getting all their facts from very stale hearsay and from one or two of the older generation who knew the man for about 5 minutes over 70 years ago. That’s not exactly what I would call gathering facts. You would think a journalist might want to check in with the family if for nothing else than to get some ideas about lines of research. I guess not.
The question for us, is, who stands to gain by creating a cartoon villain and putting the Major’s face on it and why? Notice to those of that ilk–you best be ready to prove it. And it is no longer acceptable, ladies and gentlemen to practice character assassination upon someone who isn’t there to defend himself. That’s known as poor sportsmanship, hitting below the belt and a cheap shot. Not very manly. Only super heroes allowed in this arena, sir.
We don’t think the Major was perfect. We’re his family and we’ve got the stories to prove it! But we do think he was heroic. The hero is always a flawed human being and for that reason every single one of us can identify with him or her. Few of us can be super heroes but each of us has the ability to go beyond our own human frailties and become heroic. We believe the Major to be heroic because besides behaving like a gentleman after the low down dirty tactics used against him in the late ’30’s, he had an amazing creative output in not one but at least five different arenas–comics, publishing, pulps, military strategy and industrial inventions. That’s at least four more than any of the people who have attempted to smear him and all of it is verifiable and documented.
So instead of character assassination we’d like to see a larger discussion about those murky beginnings of the comics, about those who benefitted and those who did not. We’ve been very impressed with the knowledge many of you have acquired through painstaking research. Perhaps we may even get some intelligent journalist to start asking some real questions other than those involved with someone’s dental work. We’d like to focus on the creative work and talent that was part of the early comics period and we’ll showcase some of the interesting talent around today.
It’s easy to be destructive. Just take a look at the world we’re living in. It takes a daring person to be creative in the midst of dark times and that’s what we’re interested in–the act of creativity. We look forward to meeting some of you at ComicCon 2008. There will be about 10 of us there from our very large clan including the Uncle, Douglas Wheeler-Nicholson, one of the Major’s sons who was a young boy during the ’30’s and has plenty of interesting tales to tell and the cousin, Dana Wheeler-Nicholson who is an actress. Yes, she is his granddaughter. She’ll be presenting some of the awards during the awards ceremony.
Hey, the rest of us aren’t too shabby either, so check out the website and stay tuned to the blog and join in. We’ll have lots of interesting guests, interviews and topics and with your help we’ll bring this thing out of the mud back to a more heroic time. Till we meet again.
[Photo of Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson © Finn Andreen.]
All material unless otherwise noted © Nicky Brown 2008-2009.