Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Marvel Comics

Marvel Comics is an American comic book company, headquartered in New York City. Its best-known comics include The Fantastic Four, Spider-Man and X-Men. Since the 1960s, it has been one of the two largest American comics companies, the other being DC Comics.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Related links
3 External links


Marvel Comics was founded in the 1930s as Timely Comics. Its first major publication was Marvel Comics #1 (1938), featuring the first appearance of the superhero The Human Torch and the anti-hero The Sub-Mariner. During the 1940s Timely was also known for publishing the patriotic hero Captain America.

In the 1950s Marvel fell on dark times, along with the rest of the industry. During this time Marvel primarily published monster comics, generally with a light science fiction bent. In this decade the company was known as Atlas Comics, and sometimes Timely/Atlas.

In the wake of DC Comics' success reviving the superhero genre in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Marvel decided to follow suit, and so two of its employees, editor/writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby created The Fantastic Four, modeled in a fashion after DC's Justice League of America. The book was a success, and Marvel began publishing further superhero titles. The most successful of these was undoubtedly The Amazing Spider-Man, by Lee and Steve Ditko.

Marvel's comics were noted for focusing on characterization to a greater extent than most superhero comics before them - Spider-Man in particular, its young hero suffering from self-doubt and mundane problems like any other teenager. In time, this approach would revolutionize comic books. Lee became one of the best-known names in comics, with his charming personality and relentless salesmanship of his product. In later years it became clear that the artists often had as much to do with Marvel's product and success as Lee - Kirby in particular is often credited as the true brains behind The Fantastic Four - but Lee, although a true "company man", surely deserves a great deal of credit as well.

In the early 1970s Lee stepped aside from running day-to-day operations at Marvel, and a series of new Editors-in-Chief oversaw the company during another slow time for the industry. By the end of the decade, though, Marvel's fortunes were reviving, thanks to the rise of direct market distribution, and behind the revived X-Men title, created by writer Chris Claremont and artist John Byrne.

By the 1980s, one-time wunderkind Jim Shooter was Marvel's Editor-in-Chief. Although a controversial personality, Shooter cured many of the procedural ills at Marvel (including repeatedly missed deadlines) and oversaw a creative renaissance at the company.

In 1988, Marvel was bought by investor/entrepreneur Ronald O. Perelman, who made Marvel a public company listed on the New York Stock Exchange and oversaw a great increase in the number of titles published by the company. Marvel earned a great deal of money early in the 1990s due to the comic book boom going on at the time, but by the middle of the decade the industry had slumped and Marvel filed for bankruptcy, amidst accusations that Perelman had strip-mined the company for his own gain.

Investor Carl Icahn attempted to take control of Marvel, but after protracted legal battles, in 1997 control of the company landed in the hands of Isaac Perlmutter, owner of the Marvel subsidary Toy Biz. With his business partner Avi Arad and their appointed (and controversial) publisher Bill Jemas and Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada, Perlmutter helped Marvel back on its feet. In addition to revitalizing the company's comic books, several of its properties have been licensed to become hit movies, most notably X-Men and Spider-Man.

Marvel remains a key publisher in the comics business, even as the industry has dwindled to a fraction of its size decades earlier. Stan Lee is no longer officially connected to the company, but remains a visible face in the industry and occasionally remarks on his fondness for the characters.

In 2001, Marvel Comics withdrew from the Comics Code Authority and established its own rating system for comics. It also created new imprints, including an imprint intended for older teenagers, Marvel Knights, and an imprint intended for mature readers, MAX.

Related links

External links