The Fantastic Four by Stan Lee
In 1974 Fireside Books published a collection of reprinted stories featuring characters from Marvel Comics’ popular back catalogue of stories. Origins of Marvel Comics by Stan Lee, now widely considered to be the first trade paperback, was such a success that three more volumes followed between 1974 and 1977. With these four books began a fruitful collaboration between the two publishers that over the next five years saw the publication of a wide diversity of titles featuring Marvel characters including a second set of reprint books; The Fantastic Four by Stan Lee, published in 1979, is the fifth title of this second wave. Continue reading The Fantastic Four (1979)
Doctor Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts by Stan Lee
In the autumn of 1974 Fireside Books published a softcover collection of reprinted stories featuring characters from Marvel Comics’ popular back catalogue. Origins of Marvel Comics by Stan Lee is now widely considered to be the first trade paperback and was such a success that three more volumes followed between 1974 and 1977 – Son of Origins of Marvel Comics, Bring On The Bad Guys and The Superhero Women. With these four books began a fruitful collaboration between the two publishers that over the subsequent five years saw the release of a wide variety of titles including activity books, puzzle books, health and fitness books and even a cookbook. There was also a second set of reprint books that ran to seven volumes; Dr Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts by Stan Lee, published in 1979, is the sixth title of this second wave of titles. Continue reading Doctor Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts (1979)
The Superhero Women by Stan Lee
Published in 1977 The Superhero Women by Stan Lee was the fourth, and last, of the Marvel/Fireside Books Origins collaborations. Sadly it’s also the weakest of the bunch. Although it follows the format established by its predecessors – reprinted ‘origin’ stories of Marvel Comics superheroes and villains prefaced by text introductions by Stan Lee – this volume doesn’t really work. What is clearly meant as a celebration of Marvel’s female heroes instead just highlights the publisher’s lack of strong, independent female characters and reinforces male stereotypes of women in tight-fitting, revealing outfits. Continue reading The Superhero Women (1977)
Bring On The Bad Guys by Stan Lee
The third Marvel/Fireside Books team-up continued the best-selling formula established by the series’ previous entries, Origins of Marvel Comics and Sons of Origins of Marvel Comics, but this time with a twist. In Bring On The Bad Guys by Stan Lee it’s not Marvels Comics’ superheroes who grabbed the spotlight but rather their nemesis. Continue reading Bring On The Bad Guys (1976)
Son of Origins of Marvel Comics by Stan Lee
In 1974 Simon & Schuster imprint Fireside Books published Origins of Marvel Comics by Stan Lee, a soft cover book that reprinted the origin stories of five of Marvel Comics’ most popular characters with accompanying text written specifically for the collection by Lee. The book was the first of its kind and is now widely regarded as the first reprint collection, or trade paperback, a format that now dominates the comic book industry. Continue reading Son of Origins of Marvel Comics (1975)
And Marvel said, Let there be The Fantastic Four.
And there was The Fantastic Four.
And Marvel saw The Fantastic Four. And it was good.
Stan Lee, from his introduction
Origins of Marvel Comics by Stan Lee
Browse through any comic shop (if you can find one) and you’ll doubtless notice the proliferation of reprint collections, also commonly known as trade paperbacks. With editions numbering well into the thousands trade paperbacks, or trades, have become an important part of the comic book industry offering readers the chance to read and collect their favourite comic book stories reprinted in tidy, book-shelf friendly volumes. They are so popular that many high street bookshops now stock them – although they tend to be erroneously labelled as graphic novels – helping to introduce the medium to readers who wouldn’t normally frequent comic book shops. Continue reading Origins of Marvel Comics (1974) and the birth of the trade paperback
Jack Kirby. King Kirby. King.
It’s a testament to Jack Kirby‘s lasting legacy to the comic book industry that just the epitaph ‘King’ is enough to identify him and the kind of comic with which he is synonymous. Kirby’s influence on the medium cannot be understated – he was present at the birth of the comic book industry in 1938 (the Golden Age) and he was one of the prime architects at it’s rebirth in the early sixties (the Silver Age). In a career spanning over 40 years he almost single-handedly created the visual lexicon of the comics medium, imbuing it with a dynamism, excitement and energy not seen before and he was instrumental in transforming the funny books from throw away pulp reprints to an art form in it’s own right. There isn’t an artist or writer working in the field today who doesn’t owe him a debt of gratitude, whether they know so or not. Continue reading Kirby, King of Comics (2008)