Comic Book Club: Marvel Comics – The Untold Story (Part 1)

Welcome to the inaugural edition of Comic Book Club! For the next weeks, we will be covering Sean Howe’s novel Marvel Comics: The Untold Story. This week, we are discussing Part 1: Creations & Myths (p. 1-108).

Highlights from this section include:

  • The rise of Martin Goodman, magazine mogul and founder of the company that started as Timely Comics and Atlas Comics before becoming Marvel Comics.
  • The debut of the Human Torch and Sub-Mariner in the pages of Marvel Comics #1 from the imaginations of Carl Burgos and Bill Everett.
  • The arrival of Jack Kirby and Joe Simon as the creators of Captain America.
  • The dawn of the Marvel Era in 1961 with the launch of Fantastic Four #1 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. This would pave the way for primarily Lee, Kirby, and Steve Ditko to create famous characters such as Spider-Man, Hulk, the X-Men, Thor, Iron Man, Doctor Strange, and the Avengers.
  • The expansion of the Marvel Bullpen with the likes of Roy Thomas, Jim Steranko, Neal Adams and Marie Severin joining the company. Meanwhile, other creators like Bill Everett and Wally Wood had false starts after struggling with the Marvel Method.
  • Stan Lee gets his first taste of Hollywood with the Marvel Super Heroes cartoon series.
  • Both Ditko and Kirby leave the company. Ditko exits after a gradually deteriorating relationship with Lee reaches it ends. Kirby hangs out for longer as a key mentor to other artists and is seen as the artistic vision of the line. Feeling like he will never be recognized or rewarded for his contributions, he leaves for DC in 1970.

Here are some possible starter questions for our discussion: What stands out to you about this era of comics? What behind-the-scenes stories shock you to this day? Of the comics covered here, what are your personal favorites? What supplemental media would you recommend from this era?

Upcoming Discussions:

  • January 15th – Part II: The Next Generation (p. 109-202)
  • January 22nd – Part III: Trouble Shooter (p. 203-300)
  • January 29th – Part IV: Boom and Bust (p. 301-376)
  • February 5th – Part V: A New Marvel (p. 377-434)