History of Marvel Comics

Topics: Marvel Comics, Stan Lee, Superhero Pages: 5 (1638 words) Published: February 26, 2014
The History of Marvel Comics

Marvel Worldwide, Inc., commonly referred to as Marvel Comics (formerly Marvel Publishing, Inc. and Marvel Comics Group) is an American publisher of comic books and related media. Marvel, founded by Martin Goodman, started in 1939 as Timely Publications, and by the early 1950s had generally become known as Atlas Comics. Marvel's modern incarnation dates from 1961, the year that the company launched The Fantastic Four and other superhero titles created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and others. Marvel is a very successful company and has survived for 75 years so far.

Timely’s first publication, Marvel Comic’s #1 (October 1939), included the first appearance of Carl Burgos' android superhero the Human Torch, with the first appearance of Namor the Sub-Mariner, as well as other features. The issue was a great success, with it and a second printing the following month selling, combined, nearly 900,000 copies. While its contents came from an outside packager, Funnies, Inc., by the following year Timely had its own staff in place. The company's first true editor, Joe Simon, teamed with artist and emerging industry notable Jack Kirby to create one of the first patriotically themed superheroes, Captain America, in Captain America Comics #1(March 1941). It also proved a major sales hit, with sales of nearly one million copies.

After the success with Captain America, Goodman hired Stanley Lieber, his wife’s cousin, as a general office assistant in 1939. Goodman made Leiber, who by then was writing with the alias “Stan Lee,” interim editor of the comic’s line. Lee kept that position for decades, except for three years during his military service in World War II. Lee wrote extensively for Timely, contributing to a number of different titles, such as Spider-Man and Iron Man comics.

Goodman's and Stan Lee’s business strategy involved publishing his various magazines and comic books by a number of corporations all operating out of the same office and with the same staff. One of these shell companies,an inactive company used as a vehicle for various financial maneuvers or kept dormant for future use in some other capacity, through which Timely Comics was published was named Marvel Comics. All though, some comics' covers, such as All Surprise Comics #12, were labeled "A Marvel Magazine" many years before Goodman formally adopted the name Marvel in 1961. The post-war American comic market saw superheroes falling out of fashion. With the new name Marvel, Goodman's comic book line dropped them for the most part and expanded into a wider variety of genres than even Timely had published. Such varieties were horror, humor, Westerns, funny animal, men's adventure-drama, giant monster, sports, and war comics, and later adding jungle books, romance titles, espionage, medieval adventure, Bible stories and crime.

Goodman began using the globe logo of the Atlas News Company, the newsstand-distribution company he owned on comics cover-dated November 1951 even though another company, Kable News, continued to distribute his comics through the August 1952 issues. This globe branding united a line put out by the same publisher, staff and freelancers through 59 shell companies, anywhere from Animirth Comics to Zenith Publications. Atlas, rather than innovate, took the typical route of following popular trends in television and movies such as Westerns and war dramas at one point, and drive-in movie monsters another point in time, even other comic books, particularly the EC (Entertaining Comics) horror line. Atlas Comics also published a multitude of children's and teen humor titles including Dan DeCarlo's Homer the Happy Ghost and Homer Hooper. With the continuing downfall in the comic market, Atlas unsuccessfully attempted to revive superheroes from late 1953 to mid-1954, with the Human Torch, the Sub-Mariner, and Captain America.

The first modern comic books under the brand name Marvel Comics were the...
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