- Hardcover: 168 pages
- Publisher: Fantagraphics Books; 1 edition (November 5, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1606995529
- ISBN-13: 978-1606995525
- Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 1.1 x 10.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 18 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #923,288 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Secret History Of Marvel Comics: Jack Kirby and the Moonlighting Artists at Martin Hardcover – November 5, 2013
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Winner: "Favorite Comics Related Book 2014" - U.K. True Believers Comic Awards
About the Author
Blake Bell is the author of Strange & Stranger (a retrospective of Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko); The Secret History of Marvel Comics, Fire & Water: Bill Everett, The Sub-Mariner, and the Birth of Marvel Comics; Amazing Mysteries: The Bill Everett Archives; and Strange Suspense and Unexplored Worlds (two volumes in The Steve Ditko Archives). He lives in Toronto, Ontario, with his son.
Top customer reviews
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Goodman is portrayed as a cheap and unethical publisher of shlock (and frequently reprints) who sought unapologetically to capitalize on evolving popular trends in pulp and magazine publishing. Martin Goodman published his periodicals through a dizzying array of ever-changing shell companies, a not uncommon business practice in the industry at the time apparently, and yet another way for bottom-of-the-barrel publishers to avoid paying creators.
The book’s authors chronicle in almost scholarly detail the ever changing roster of titles, the convoluted issue number sequencing, and the seemingly endless array of fly-by-night publishing companies with various business addresses in Manhattan in Martin Goodman’s little publishing business, with a heavy emphasis on the pulps he published in the 1930s and 1940s.
The conceit is that Goodman’s unethical business practices, and lack of regard for the creators whose work he published as well as the readers who bought his periodicals, carried over into Marvel Comics in the 1960s. But that aspect of the narrative is barely touched on, and only in the final pages of the 100 page history of Goodman’s publishing business that starts this 300 page book. (The remaining 200 pages of this 300 page book detail, artist-by-artist, the many famous comic book artists who got their start in the 1940s doing work for Goodman’s pulps. Most of those 200 pages reprint this long lost artwork.)
I found myself asking rhetorically many times while reading this book “why” various things happened they way they did. The various titles and issue numbers of Goodman’s various pulps are laid out in the almost fetishistic detail characteristic of a devoted collector. But the human reasons “why” events occurred in the narrative are rarely addressed and when they are, only in passing. As one example, the book touts that it explains the little-known ‘real’ reason why Ditko and Kirby left Marvel Comics in the 1960s, and ascribes that to Martin Goodman’s unethical business dealings with them, as opposed to disputes with Stan Lee. But the book never explains why, if that were true, Kirby came back to Goodman’s comic book company in the late 1950s (and did work for him for another decade, co-creating the Marvel Universe in the 1960s with Stan Lee) despite having had a bitter falling out with Goodman in 1941 over royalty payments for “Captain America Comics.” And it never explains why, if that were so, Ditko would go on to do work for Goodman’s short-lived Atlas Comics in the mid-1970s.
As a book about a comparatively minor, ethically challenged publisher of pulps in the 1930s and 1940s, with an intriguing link to Marvel Comics, this book makes fascinating reading. But it’s not really a “History of Marvel Comics.”
Recommended for all serious students of Marvel Comics and their creators.