When I first arrived in the comic book universe Captain Marvel and the Marvel Family were largely defunct. One sole page in Jules Feiffer's magnificent tome was all the glimpse of the great hero I could discover at the time. Captain Marvel was truly a legend, so much like Superman allegedly that he was adjudicated into oblivion.
Then DC Comics, the behemoth which killed the good Captain returned him to the comics scene, safely beneath the corporate umbrella of their then shiny new logo. "The Big Red Cheese" was back and he's been back more or less since, though never with the magnificent success he and his cohorts enjoyed long ago.
I never really got just how successful Fawcett's hero had been until I found and read Chip Kidd's tome Shazam! The Golden Age of the World's Mightiest Mortal, a book which focuses wonderfully on the merchandise, marketing, and assorted whatnot concerning the hero and his friends. When I read that Fawcett had to hire thirty-five women to just handle the volume of fan mail the series generated in its first days, I suddenly had a sense of the scale of that success. Nothing today in printed comics comes close in magnitude.
Included in Kidd's book are an array of special toys, posters, gimmicks, and such mostly from one magnificent collection. It's a book that gets you up close and personal with the materials, making them almost palpable on the page. The thing that made me pick this up from my local Half-Price Book Store was the complete Simon and Kirby Cap story from issue one of Cap's comic. It's a outstanding example of their work and a story that flows superbly, in which Cap battles Sivana and his powerhouse, an enemy dubbed merely "Z".
Add that to the other goodies in this book, and it became a must have for this fanboy. If you can find it cheap like I did, I highly recommend this glimpse into a time when Captain Marvel was the most popular superhero in these United States.
Here are some samples of what you can find underneath the cleverly die-cut cover.