Saturday, June 1, 2013

Origins Of Marvel Comics!

This tome by Stan "The Man" Lee was a really important volume in my early collecting life. It was one of the earliest "real" books I was able to gather up which was about comic books I actually read. Jules Fieffer's The Great Comic Book Heroes and Jim Steranko's History of Comics were important and significant volumes but they were about comics and heroes from decades gone by. This book by Stan was about my heroes.

I'm not interested really today in the dispute about who created what at the "House of Ideas". I'm ready to submit with little dispute that without Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, Stan's Marvel would be largely an empty shell. But that aside, Stan's voice did tap into a generation eager to connect with something signficant or at least seemingly so and it was Stan who sold it. Some could easily argue that in this book he's still selling it.

But I do love that cover designed and painted by John Romita Sr. But it turns out it wasn't his first go at it.

Here's one sketch which shows the assembled Marvel heroes in round table style with Stan at the head. Neat idea, but it smacks a bit of DC and the Justice Society.

And this design is pretty awesome. A relatively tiny Hulk holding up the the other heroes atop a giant logo. There's something very Stan-like about this one.

 Here's a neat black and white ad for the book with the cover art used in a very clever way.

And finally here is another ad, this time in color which approximates the actual cover with some redrawn hands and typewriter and some selected spot art by various folks. Some of this spot art, mostly by Jack Kirby, but also by John Buscema, Sal Buscema and Steve Ditko does seem to be the inspiration for the actual renderings used on the cover. Some not so much and alas the Silver Surfer doesn't make the actual cover.

Whatever you think of Origins of Marvel Comics, it did prove successful and was of course followed by Son of Origins of Marvel Comics, Bring On The Bad Guys, and The Superhero Women. Fun collections from a time when such quality reprints were rare indeed.

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  1. An absolutely brilliant book in every way. Just a shame that they got the Doctor Strange section out of sequence in the first printings. And of course Stan needed Kirby and Ditko; but as their forays away from Marvel proved, they also needed Stan Lee.

    1. Personally I've grown weary of the debate about what happened at Marvel. The evidence is clear that Kirby did more than he was originally credited for, same for Ditko. But likewise I think Stan is too quickly dismissed by fans of the other two. The "Marvel Method", which was no secret demands that. Marvel Comics was a synthesis of great talents and concepts erupting at just the right time to imprint on a perfect audience. It cannot be reproduced by any who participated. Even if by magic you could reassemble the original team, the times would be different.

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