Zatanna is the daughter of Zatarra, a character that debuted in Action Comics #1 (1938), the same issue that featured the first appearance of Superman. Like her father, Zatanna was a stage magician who also cast magic spells by talking backwards.
Introduced in a 1964 Hawkman story about her search for her missing father, Zatanna popped up from time to time over the next three years and met various heroes as she continued her quest. This story line culminated in a 1967 issue of The Justice League of America where all the characters she had encountered came together and finally helped her find Zatarra.
Later on her exploits were featured in Adventure Comics and Supergirl—and in the late 70s she joined the Justice League. It’s interesting that in those days, besides Wonder Woman and Black Canary, there were virtually no female heroes who weren’t spin-offs of an established male character.
I suppose to avoid redundancy, these characters (like Batgirl, Supergirl, and Hawkgirl) weren’t admitted into the League since their male counterparts were already members. Perhaps the fact that she was the spin-off of a character not already in the organization made her a prime candidate for membership once the editors decided to increase the female presence in the club.
Illustrating one playing card a day using characters found between 1957-1967 in DC Comics. Tomorrow: a character who will remain Nameless!