Detail from Superman #14 cover.

ZAP! POW! BAM! The Superhero: The Golden Age of Comic Books, 1938 – 1950

ZAP! POW! BAM! Overview

In the midst of the economic and political turmoil of the 1930s and 1940s, comic books offered America champions who shaped the values of an entire generation. Through never-before exhibited art and objects culled from private and institutional collections, ZAP! POW! BAM! The Superhero: The Golden Age of Comic Books, 1938-1950 explores the genesis of cultural icons such as Superman, Batman, Captain Marvel, Wonder Woman, and Captain America, and the ways that those figures shaped popular opinion.

Originated by The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum, the exhibition has been traveling throughout the United States since its debut in Atlanta in 2004. Vintage artwork and books, multi-media presentations, and colorful interactive displays immerses visitors in the world of Super Heroes. The exhibition examines the creative processes and influences that drove young, largely Jewish artists to express their talents through the story lines and art of graphic novels.

Guest Curator Jerry Robinson brings a long history as a comic book industry insider to the exhibition. Working with Batman co-creators Bob Kane and Bill Finger, Robinson named Robin, Batman’s young protégé. Robinson also co-created The Joker, Batman’s nemesis and one of the first Super-Villains. His experience and personal contacts have presented The Breman with extraordinary access to original comic book materials, artists and collectors.

ZAP! POW! BAM!’s “Super Hero Cinema” showcases 1940s Hollywood movie serials and videotaped interviews with several leading artists and writers. Rare early comic books, superhero memorabilia, selected artifacts from creators and publishers, and original art on loan from major individual and institutional collectors bring Super Heroes to life.

ZAP! POW! BAM! features a drawing studio, a news stand offering free comic books, and, in conjunction with Reading Is Fundamental, a comic book nook. Interactive stations allow children to dress up as Super Heroes or transform themselves via a quick costume change in a telephone booth. On both adult and children’s levels, educational aspects of the exhibition promote literacy, character development, and understanding comic books as a cultural force.

For more information about this exhibition, please contact Jennifer Campbell by e-mail or at 901-725-1955.


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Superman #14. Cover art by Fred Ray. © 1941 DC Comics. Superman™ and © DC Comics. All rights Reserved. Used with Permission. From the collection of Jerry Robinson.

Superman #14.  Cover art by Fred Ray. © 1941 DC Comics.  Superman™ and © DC Comics.  All rights Reserved.  Used with Permission.  From the collection of Jerry Robinson.

Exhibition Specs and Rental Information

Size of Exhibition: 2,800 square feet (exhibition can be made smaller if needed)

Number of Objects: Over 70 rare and never before displayed comic books (high quality facsimiles),* early artwork items (high quality facsimiles)*, and original memorabilia.

Display Materials:

  • Wall System - 5 wall cases with lighting system, 5 display cases, 5 comic book stands
  • Studio Set – including video interviews of individuals involved in the Golden Age of Comic Books: Will Eisner, Bob Kane, Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, Jerry Robinson, Jules Schwartz and Joe Simon

Large-Scale Interactives:

  • Batmobile – Original collector edition of Batmobile kiddie ride
  • Phone Booth – Vintage telephone booth that rings when a visitor walks near. When the visitor answers the phone, a recording asks Superman for help.
  • Drawing Studio – Visitors learn how to draw Super Heroes; display section provided.
  • Kryptonite Stand – When a guest gets close to the stand, activity lights and recording warn patron to “stand back.”
  • Costumes – Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Captain America and Captain Marvel
  • Newstand – Park vignette with 4 park benches and newsstand containing free comic books
  • Movie Theater – Features 3 hollywood movie serials: “Superman,” “Superman vs Atoman,” and “Captain America” (royalty fee included)

Additional Support:

  • Kids’s Gallery Guides
  • Press Kit
  • Exhibition Catalog
  • Suggested Programs


The Breman will provide interior wall system, cases and text panels. Borrower to provide system to hand material on perimeter wall space. A supervisor from The Breman will assist with installation and deinstallation.**


For more information about this exhibition, please contact Jennifer Campbell by e-mail or at 901-725-1955.

Rental Fee Includes:

  • 20 catalogs with option of purchasing additional copies
  • Installation and deinstallation supervisor**
  • Rights to show the 3 Hollywood serials

Target Age:

8 and up (material engages younger audiences as well)

*The Breman will work with institutions interested in exhibiting original material.
Additional charges may occur.
**Airfare and hotel for installation supervisor are not limited.

Traveling Schedule

Close in Atlanta

Sept. 25, 2005

Janice Charach Epstein Gallery
(West Bloomfield, MI)

Sept. 21 – Nov. 19, 2006

Jewish Museum of Florida

Oct. 15, 2007 - April 30, 2008

The Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage (Cleveland, OH)

Sept. 23, 2008- Jan. 4, 2009

Skirball Cultural Center
(Los Angeles)

Feb. 13 - Aug. 9, 2009

The Breman Museum

January 23, 2011 - April 24, 2011

Scottdale Public Art Program
(Scottsdale, AZ)

May 21, 2011 - Sept. 2, 2011

Center for The Arts of Bonita Springs
(Bonita Springs, FL)

March 2, 2011 - April 30, 2012

Jewish Museum of Maryland

October 2012 - March, 2013 (dates are tentative)


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Detective Comics #71. Cover art by Jerry Robinson. © 1942 DC Comics. Batman, Robin & The Joker™ and © DC Comics. All rights Reserved. Used with Permission. Collection of Jerry Robinson. Detective Comics #71.  Cover art by Jerry Robinson.  © 1942 DC Comics.  Batman, Robin & The Joker™ and © DC Comics.  All rights Reserved.  Used with Permission. Collection of Jerry Robinson.