Did you know that Marvel comic’s founder Martin Goodman wasn’t only into comics, and the adventures of buff dudes in spandex? Hard to believe, but Goodman’s publishing empire also included various arms that also dealt in — gasp! — pulp fiction. As in those hard boiled noir detective books where the gumshoe always got the dame, or at least got got by the dame. As well as those sweaty boudiour thrillers involving buxom damsels in distress, and maybe pirates. Or Tarzan. You get the point. Well now authors  Blake Bell & Dr. Michael J. Vassallo have unearthed this “secret” early world of Goodman and Marvel and recounted it in their hardcover book The Secret History of Marvel Comics. The hardcover book features some of this more lurid “pulp” art from moonlighting comic book legends like Jack Kirby, Joe Simon, Alex Schomburg, Bill Everett, Al Jaffee and Dan DeCarlo, as well as work from recognized pulp artists like Norman Saunders, John Walter Scott and Hans Wesso. Excerpts from some of Goodman’s celebrity gossip tabloids are included in the book, with cover stories on contemporary celebrities like Jackie Gleason, Elizabeth Taylor, Liberace, and Sophia Loren. As Fantagraphic describes:

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… These rare pieces of comic art, pulp and magazine history will open the door to Marvel Comics’ unseen history.”

Pick up Blake Bell and Dr. Michael J. Vassallo’s The Secret History of Marvel Comics for $40.

Leave a Reply