Martin Goodman (publisher)

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Martin Goodman (born January 18, 1908; died June 6, 1992, Palm Beach, Florida)[1] was an American publisher of pulp magazines, paperback books, men's adventure magazines, and comic books, launching the company that would become Marvel Comics.

Golden Age

After traveling around the country as a young man during the Great Depression, living in hobo camps, Goodman became a salesperson for New York City publisher Paul Sampliner's Independent News, "alongside future comics publishers and rivals John Goldwater and Louis Silberkleit," as well as "Frank Armer, who helped distribute Harry Donenfeld's Detective Comics. In 1931, Goodman, Silberkleit, and Maurice Coyne formed Columbia Publications, one of the earliest publishers of pulp magazines, which Goodman left in 1932, and (with borrowed money) found his own companies including Western Fiction Publishing.

Goodman's first publication was Western Supernovel Magazine, premiering May 1933. After the first issue he renamed it Complete Western Book Magazine, beginning with cover-date July 1933.

Goodman's business strategy involved using several corporate names for various publishing ventures, such as Red Circle. Goodman's pulp magazines included All Star Adventure Fiction Complete Western Book, Mystery Tales, Real Sports, Star Detective, the science fiction magazine Marvel Science Stories and the jungle-adventure title Ka-Zar, starring its Tarzan-like namesake.

In 1939, with the emerging medium of comic books proving hugely popular, and the first superheroes setting the trend, Goodman contracted with newly formed comic-book "packager" Funnies, Inc. to supply material for a test comic book. Marvel Comics #1, cover-dated October 1939 and featuring the first appearances of the hit characters the Human Torch and the Sub-Mariner, quickly sold out 80,000 copies. Goodman produced a second printing, cover-dated November 1939, that then sold an approximate 800,000 copies. With a hit on his hands, Goodman began assembling an in-house staff, hiring Funnies, Inc. writer-artist Joe Simon as editor, and the first official employee of the new Timely Publications. Timely Comics became the umbrella name for the several paper corporations that comprised Goodman's comic-book division, which would in ensuing decades evolve into Marvel Comics.

In 1941, Timely published its third major character, Simon & Kirby's seminal patriotic superhero Captain America, whose success led to Simon hiring his artist collaborator, future comics legend Jack Kirby, subsequently "hir[ing] inker Syd Shores to be Timely's third employee."[4] Simon & Kirby departed Timely after 10 issues, and Goodman appointed Stan Lee as Timely's editor, a position Lee would hold for decades.

With the post-war lessening of interest in superheroes, Goodman published a wider variety of genres including horror, Westerns, teen humor, crime and war comics.

The name "Timely Comics" went into disuse after Goodman began using the globe logo of the newsstand-distribution company he owned, Atlas, starting with the covers of comic books dated November 1951. This united a line put out by the same publisher and staff through 59 shell companies, from Animirth Comics to Zenith Publications. Throughout the 1950s, the company formerly known as Timely was called Atlas Comics.

Marvel Comics

In 1961, following rival DC Comics' successful revival of superheroes a few years earlier, comics editor-in-chief Stan Lee and freelance artist Jack Kirby debuted The Fantastic Four #1, the first hit of what would become Marvel Comics. The newly naturalistic comics, in which superheroes bickered, worried about money and behaved more like everyday people than noble archetypes, changed the industry. Lee, Kirby, such artists as Steve Ditko, Don Heck, Dick Ayers, John Romita Sr., Gene Colan, and John Buscema, and eventually writers including Roy Thomas and Archie Goodwin, among others, ushered in a string of hit characters, including Spider-Man, Iron Man, the Hulk, Daredevil, and, in the 1970s after a false start in the '60s, the X-Men.

In the fall of 1968, Goodman sold Magazine Management to the Perfect Film and Chemical Corporation. Goodman remained as publisher until 1972. Two years later he founded a new comics company, Seaboard Periodicals, but it folded a year afterward.

Perfect Film and Chemical renamed itself Cadence Industries in 1973, the first of many post-Goodman changes, mergers, and acquisitions that led to what became the 21st-century corporation Marvel Entertainment Group.

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