2014 True Believer Award - Best Comics Related Book
Marvel Comics is home to such legendary super-heroes as Spider-Man,
Hulk, Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man, all of whom have spun box office
gold in the 21st century. But Marvel Comics has a secret history hidden in the
shadows of these well-known franchises.
The Secret History of Marvel Comics digs back to the 1930s when Marvel
Comics wasn’t just a comic-book producing company. Marvel Comics owner
Martin Goodman had tentacles into a publishing world that might have made
that era’s conservative American parents lynch him on his front porch. Marvel
was but a small part of Goodman’s publishing empire, which had begun years
before he published his first comic book. Goodman mostly published lurid
and sensationalistic story books (known as “pulps”) and magazines, featuring
sexually-charged detective and romance short fiction, and celebrity gossip scandal sheets. And artists like Jack Kirby, who
was producing Captain America for eight-year-olds, were simultaneously dipping their toes in both ponds.
The Secret History of Marvel Comics tells this parallel story of 1930s/40s Marvel Comics sharing offices with those
Goodman publications not quite fit for children. The book also features a comprehensive display of the artwork produced for Goodman’s other enterprises by Marvel Comics artists such as Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, Alex Schomburg, Bill
Everett, Al Jaffee, and Dan DeCarlo, plus the very best pulp artists in the field, including Norman Saunders, John Walter
Scott, Hans Wesso, L.F. Bjorklund, and Marvel Comics #1 cover artist Frank R. Paul. Goodman’s magazines also featured
cover stories on celebrities such as Jackie Gleason, Elizabeth Taylor, Liberace, and Sophia Loren, as well as contributions
from famous literary and social figures such as Isaac Asimov, Theodore Sturgeon, and L. Ron Hubbard.
These rare pieces of comic art, pulp and magazine history will open the door to Marvel Comics’ unseen history.