Gaines is considered the by most the father of American comic books. In 1933 the idea came to Gaines that perhaps people might be willing to spend 10 cents on a collection of reprinted comic strips from the newspaper. That effort, Famous Funnies, was an instant sellout and launched the saddle-stitched, four color newsprint format adopted by comics thereafter. In 1939 Gaines noticed the popularity of original comic stories being created by such companies as National Allied Publishing (later DC Comics) and decided to start his own company, All-American Comics. All-American enjoyed success with such legendary fictional characters as Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and Hawkman. In 1944, Gaines sold his interest in All-American to Harry Donefeld and Jack Liebowitz of National Allied Publishing. He returned to comic publishing later that same year when he founded EC Comics.
Tragically, Gaines was killed in a boating accident in Lake Placid, NY on August 20th, 1947.