10 Interesting Tales From Marvel During The Golden Age Of Comics

10 Interesting tales from the early history of Marvel Comics

Marvel's line of superheroes has become the most well-known heroes in popular culture thanks to the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The root of the MCU's success were the superheroes created during a five-year burst of creativity at Marvel Comics during the early 60s. 

However, Marvel Comics' story did not begin in 1961, but over twenty years earlier. Marvel's early period is less talk about in comparison to Marvel in the 1960s but has many intriguing stories worth telling. 

Here are the 10 interesting tales from Marvel during the golden age of comics:

1. Timely Comics did not Publish All of Their Comics Under that Name  

Timely Comics did not Publish All of Their Comics Under that Name
Despite the issue being called a Marvel Comics'
a special feature, Manvis Comics is this issue's publisher.
Source: Wikia

Comic book historians often refer to Marvel comics published between 1939 to 1950 as being published by Timely Comics, which does not reflect actual history. While Timely Comics publish Marvel Comic, other publishers like Manvis Comics published Sub-Marinier Comics. 

This confusion over Marvel's character in the series of multiple publishers resulted from how Martin Goodman operates his publishing empire. Goodman's business empire conducted itself as multiple shell companies. A practice he did so that he could recoup any fail endeavor by buying out his own bankrupt company. This practice, however, made it harder for Goodman to build up a brand. 

2. Contractors Produced Marvel's Early Comics 

Contractors Produced Marvel's Early Comics
Funnies Inc. Packaged the first issue of Marvel Comics.
Source: Wikia

Goodman first operated Marvel Comics as an expedition to see if the post-Action Comics comic book boom would be a profitable expansion for his publishing empire. One result of this attitude was that contractors produced Marvel's entire first year of comics.

Most of these contractors worked in a comic book packager, which produced a whole issue for a publisher interested in entering the comic book market but did not want to hire dedicated creators. The packager that Marvel utilizes the most was Funnies Inc. that includes many creators that Marvel would hire once they decide to have its own comics staff.   

3. Marvel Fired its Entire Staff in December 1949

Marvel Fired its Entire Staff in December 1949
An issue of Marvel Tales compose solely of Inventory 
Source: Wikia

For most of the 1940s, Marvel had a massive comic book staff. However, this state of affairs would end in December 1949. That month was when Martin Goodman fired Marvel's entire office staff and made them freelancers for the company. 

This chain of events that led to this mass firing resulted from Martin Goodman finding out that his Editor-in-Chief Stan Lee and predecessor Vincent Fago had built up a massive backlog of inventory stories. While comic book publishers naturally produced inventory stories to help keep comics monthly in the face of creators' potentially missing deadline, Marvel by 1949 had a full closet full of unused inventory stories. 

Goodman, however, felt he was losing money producing a ton of stories that would never be published. His solution was to fire the entire staff at Marvel comics and publish the inventory stories for the next couple of months. However, Goodman kept some of his former personal as freelancers to allow the company to produce new comics to follow some developing trend

4. The Name Marvel Came From an Advertiser 

The Name Marvel Came From an Advertiser 
Cover for Marvel Stories, a rebranded
 Marvel Science Stories
Source: Wikimedia

The association between the word marvel and the comic book company that would bear that name in the 1960s goes back to Martin Goodman's pulp magazine ventures. Back in 1936, Goodman has used the title of a sci-fi magazine called Marvel Science Stories. The name comes from one of his key advertisers, Marvel Home Utilities.   

When in 1939, Martin Goodman needed to come up with a name for his company's first comic book, he decided to reuse marvel to describe his new comic. From then on, Marvel Comics later renamed Marvel Mystery Comics, would become one of Marvel's best sellers. This association of the word marvel with Goodman's published comics would lead the company to renamed Marvel in the 1960s. 

5. Funny Animals Comics Were Big for Marvel During the 1940s 

Funny Animals Comics Were Big for Marvel During the 1940s 
Terry-Toons Comics was Marvel first License title
Source: Wikia

Despite people remembering Marvel's 1940s output for Superheroes like Captain America and the Sub-Marinier, its 1940s lineup was a lot more diverse. One of its biggest sellers was humor and funny animal comics during the 1940s. 

These high sales resulted from both a World War-induced desire for lighter reading material and Marvel gaining the license to publish comics featured the  Terry-Toons' line of cartoon characters. It also led to Marvel spilling its staff in two between one focus on making Superhero comics and the other concentrated on more humorous works. 

6. World War II Greatly depleted Marvel's Staff 

World War II Greatly depleted Marvel's Staff 
Bill Everett was one of the many Marvel staffer drafted
into the US army
Source: Wikimedia

Another way that the Second World War impacted Marvel's creative staff was that the draft. Not only did Marvel lost its current Editor in Chief Stan Lee to the draft, but some of its most acclaimed creators like Carl Burgos and Bill Evertt. 

This loss of talent hit Marvel's superhero division hard with barely any new superhero titles were released by Marvel between 1943 and 1945. However, Marvel's humor line was still going strong thanks to the draft affecting them to a lesser extend.   

7. Marvel Tended to Follow Trends Rather than create them 

Marvel Tended to Follow Trends Rather than create them 
Daring Mystery Comics no.1 featuring the Human Torch 
rip-off the Fiery Mask
Source: Wikia

While Marvel was the main creative force driving change in the comic book industry during the 1960s, it was different in the 1930s and 1940s. Thanks to Martin Goodman's experience running a lower-end pulp publisher, he felt it was better to copy what was popular than making something original. 

This trend is quite apparent in how many of Marvel's lesser-known superheroes were rip-offs of the more well-known superheroes. Like Marvel's first year of the comic was filled with many Spirit knockoffs. Marvel even copied its creation like Joe Simon's first assignment was to make a rip-off of the Human Torch. 

8. Goodman's Business Strategy Caused Joe Simon and Jack Kirby to leave Marvel

Goodman's Business Strategy Caused Joe Simon and Jack Kirby to leave Marvel
The last Issue of Simon and Kirby's run on 
Captain American Comics
Source: Wikia

The most creative duo at Marvel from 1940 to 1942 was that of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. The duo's most famous creation for Marvel was Captain America, who became Marvel's most profitable character in the early 1940s. Captain America was selling well enough that Martin Goodman agreed to give Simon a decent portion of each issue's profit. 

Goodman, however, decides to prevent Simon from getting his share of the profit through financial trickery. Goodman trick Simon out of his cut by having various business costs added to Captain American Comics' expense so that it appeared to be unprofitable. 

When Joe Simon and Jack Kirby were informed of this fact by Goodman's accounted, there were quite angry at Goodman. This revelation would lead the duo to leave Marvel for a better contract with DC comics in 1942.  

9. Marvel Often Canceled and Relaunched Comic Series

Marvel Often Canceled and Relaunched Comic Series
Despite his issue's cover, it mostly contains superhero
stories meant for Daring Mystery Comics no. 9 

While Marvel Mystery Comics, Human Torch Comics, Captain America Comics were massive hits for Marvel, not every comic they produce was a hit. Most noticeably were Daring Mystery Comics and Mystic Comics, who would experience a series of cancellations and relaunched. 

Marvel first canceled Daring Mystery Comics due to a lawsuit a character appearing in issue six. After being brought back for one issue six months later, Marvel canceled Daring Mystery Comics again for another nine-month in response to the shake-up at Marvel at the time. Then after its eighth issue, it would be renamed Crazy Comics

Mystic Comics would go through two similar hiatus. The first was a seven-month hiatus between issues 4 and 5 resulted from a change in packager. Later there were another seven months between issue 5 and 6 before Marvel decided to revamp Mystic Comics to be the vehicle for the Stan Lee created hero, the Destroyer.  

10. Human Torch Comics had Two Issue Number Five

Human Torch Comics had Two Issue Number Five
Cover for the second issue five for Human Torch Comics
Source: wikia

Marvel tended to create new series with the numbering of a previously cancel series. A practice invented to avoid having to pay a mailing company to ship an entirely new series. For example, Human Torch Comics' first issue took its numbering from Red Raven Comics

Resulting when somebody at the mailing company became annoyed with this practice and demanded that Marvel publish two different Human Torch Comics number five so that number on the comic matches the actual number of issues.


These ten tales from Marvel's early days tell us a lot about the early cut-throat days of the American Comic Book industry.  From its origins in the pulp industry to its struggle during the Second World War and its aftermath, Marvel's story was just one of many other stories.  

Hopefully, these ten tales will spark an interest in learning more about the history of Golden Age comics. This era includes many other intriguing and bizarre stories worth telling. 

History Major that loves to write about entertainment and history.

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