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Save the best shopping experience around. This article is about the comic book company using this name beginning in 1961. For the earlier comic book series, see Marvel Mystery Comics. Marvel Comics is the common name and primary imprint of Marvel Worldwide Inc. Marvel Comics Group, a publisher of American comic books and related media. Marvel started in 1939 as Timely Publications, and by the early 1950s, had generally become known as Atlas Comics. Pulp-magazine publisher Martin Goodman founded the company later known as Marvel Comics under the name Timely Publications in 1939.

Goodman hired his wife’s cousin, Stanley Lieber, as a general office assistant in 1939. Goodman’s business strategy involved having his various magazines and comic books published by a number of corporations all operating out of the same office and with the same staff. The post-war American comic market saw superheroes falling out of fashion. Goodman began using the globe logo of the Atlas News Company, the newsstand-distribution company he owned, on comics cover-dated November 1951 even though another company, Kable News, continued to distribute his comics through the August 1952 issues. In 1961, writer-editor Stan Lee revolutionized superhero comics by introducing superheroes designed to appeal to older readers than the predominantly child audiences of the medium. Lee and freelance artist and eventual co-plotter Jack Kirby’s Fantastic Four originated in a Cold War culture that led their creators to revise the superhero conventions of previous eras to better reflect the psychological spirit of their age.

Marvel often presented flawed superheroes, freaks, and misfits—unlike the perfect, handsome, athletic heroes found in previous traditional comic books. Some Marvel heroes looked like villains and monsters such as the Hulk and the Thing. This naturalistic approach even extended into topical politics. In the world of Superman comic books, communism did not exist. Superman rarely crossed national borders or involved himself in political disputes. From 1962 to 1965, there were more communists than on the subscription list of Pravda.

All of these elements struck a chord with the older readers, such as college-aged adults. In 1965, Spider-Man and the Hulk were both featured in Esquire magazine’s list of 28 college campus heroes, alongside John F. In 1968, while selling 50 million comic books a year, company founder Goodman revised the constraining distribution arrangement with Independent News he had reached under duress during the Atlas years, allowing him now to release as many titles as demand warranted. In 1971, the United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare approached Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Stan Lee to do a comic book story about drug abuse. Lee agreed and wrote a three-part Spider-Man story portraying drug use as dangerous and unglamorous.

Goodman retired as publisher in 1972 and installed his son, Chip, as publisher. Shortly thereafter, Lee succeeded him as publisher and also became Marvel’s president for a brief time. A series of new editors-in-chief oversaw the company during another slow time for the industry. Marvel was able to capitalize on its successful superhero comics of the previous decade by acquiring a new newsstand distributor and greatly expanding its comics line.

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