Martin Goodman (publisher)

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Martin Goodman
Born Moe Goodman
(1908-01-18)January 18, 1908
Died June 2, 1992(1992-06-02) (aged 84)
Palm Beach, Florida, U.S.
Nationality American
Area(s) Publisher
Notable works
Marvel Comics
Magazine Management Company

Martin Goodman, born Moe Goodman[1] (January 18, 1908 – June 6, 1992),[1][2] was an American publisher of pulp magazines, paperback books, men's adventure magazines, and comic books, launching the company that would become Marvel Comics.

Biography[edit]

Pulps magazines and Timely Comics[edit]

Moe Goodman, who would later adopt the name Martin, was the oldest son of 13 recorded children of Isaac Goodman (b. 1872) and Anna Gleichenhaus (b. 1875), who had met in the United States after separately emigrating from their native Vilna, Lithuania, then part of Russia.[1] The family lived at different homes in the New York City borough of Brooklyn.[3] As a young man, Moe traveled around the country during the Great Depression, living in hobo camps.[4][5] Circa late 1929, future Archie Comics co-founder Louis Silberkleit, then circulation manager at the magazine distribution company Eastern Distributing Corp., hired Goodman for his department, assigning him clients that included publisher Hugo Gernsback.[5] Goodman later became circulation manager himself,[3] but the company went bankrupt in October 1932.[6] Goodman then joined Silberkleit and other investors as part owner of Mutual Magazine Distributors, and was named editor of Silberkleit's new sister company, the publisher Newsstand Publications Inc., at 53 Park Place, also known as 60 Murray Street, in Manhattan.[7]

Uncanny Tales (May 1940), one of the Red Circle pulp magazines.

A 2003 account by journalist and later Archie Comics publicist Rik Offenberger, writing about the formation of Archie, maintains that, "In the early 1930s Louis Silberkleit, Martin Goodman, and Maurice Coyne started Columbia Publications" — a company unrelated to the later Columbia Comics, which began in 1940. "Goodman soon left that company and it was owned solely by Louis Silberkleit and Maurice Coyne. Columbia was one of the last pulp companies, putting out its last pulp in the late 50s..."[8] A 2013 book disputes that Goodman was involved in Columbia Publications, saying, "[T]here is no evidence that Columbia Publications existed before Goodman and SIlberkleit parted company in 1934."[9]

Goodman's first publication was the Newsstand Publications pulp magazine Western Supernovel Magazine, premiering with cover-date May 1933.[9] After the first issue he renamed it Complete Western Book Magazine, beginning with cover-date July 1933.[10]

Goodman's business strategy involved using several corporate names for various publishing ventures, such as Red Circle. Goodman's pulp magazines included All Star Adventure Fiction, Complete Western Book, Mystery Tales, Real Sports, Star Detective, the science fiction magazine Marvel Science Stories and the jungle-adventure title Ka-Zar, starring its Tarzan-like namesake.

In 1939, with the emerging medium of comic books proving hugely popular, and the first superheroes setting the trend, Goodman contracted with newly formed comic-book "packager" Funnies, Inc. to supply material for a test comic book. Marvel Comics #1, cover-dated October 1939 and published by his newly formed Timely Publications.[11] It featured the first appearances of the hit characters the Human Torch and the Sub-Mariner,[12] and quickly sold out 80,000 copies. Goodman produced a second printing, cover-dated November 1939, that then sold an approximate 800,000 copies.[13] With a hit on his hands, Goodman began assembling an in-house staff, hiring Funnies, Inc. writer-artist Joe Simon as editor, and Timely's first official employee. Goodman then formed Timely Comics, Inc., beginning with comics cover-dated April 1941 or Spring 1941.[14] Timely Comics became the umbrella name for the several paper corporations that comprised Goodman's comic-book division, which in ensuing decades would evolve into Marvel Comics.[15]

In 1941, Timely published its third major character, the patriotic superhero Captain America by Simon and future comics-artist legend Jack Kirby. The success of Captain America #1 (March 1941) led to an expansion of staff, with Simon bringing freelancer Kirby on staff and subsequently hiring inker Syd Shores "to be Timely's third employee."[16] Simon and Kirby departed Timely after 10 issues of Captain America, and Goodman appointed Stan Lee as Timely's editor, a position Lee would hold for decades.

Marvel Comics #1, featuring the Human Torch. Art by Frank R. Paul.

With the post-war lessening of interest in superheroes, Goodman established a pattern of directing Lee to follow a variety of genres as the market seemed to trend, such as romance in 1948, horror in 1951, Westerns in 1955 and Kaiju monsters in 1958. He could be highly derivative In this regard, such as ordering the title character of Patsy Walker, America's #1 Teenager to have similar crosshatching in her hair as that of Archie Comics' popular Archie Andrews.[17]

The name "Timely Comics" went into disuse after Goodman began using the globe logo of the newsstand-distribution company he owned, Atlas, starting with the covers of comic books dated November 1951. This united a line put out by the same publisher and staff through 59 shell companies, from Animirth Comics to Zenith Publications.This united a line put out by the same publisher, staff and freelancers through 59 shell companies, from Animirth Comics to Zenith Publications.[18] Throughout the 1950s, the company formerly known as Timely was called Atlas Comics.

Magazine Management and Lion Books[edit]

As the market for pulp magazines waned, Goodman, in addition to comic books, transitioned to conventional magazines — published through a concern dubbed Magazine Management Company at least as far back as 1947[19] — and in 1949 founded Lion Books, a paperback line. Goodman used the name Red Circle Books for the first seven titles plus an additional two later. Most were novels, but there was a smattering of mostly sports-oriented nonfiction. Goodman eventually developed two lines, the 25¢ Lion and the 35¢ Lion Library.[20]

New American Library bought Lion in 1957, and several Lion titles were reprinted under its Signet label. Authors that Lion published included such notables as Robert Bloch, David Goodis and Jim Thompson.[20] The first Lion editor was Arnold Hano.[21]

Marvel Comics[edit]

Main article: Marvel Comics

In mid-1961, following rival DC Comics' successful revival of superheroes a few years earlier, Goodman ordered Lee to follow the trend again. Weary of Goodman's artistic dictates and the awkward orders he gave with such as having Lee dismiss the entire staff outside of himself in favor of freelancers in 1957,[22] Stan Lee collaborated with artist Jack Kirby to create The Fantastic Four #1 (cover-dated Nov. 1961) in an artistic experiment before intending to resign.[23] Instead, that series became first hit of what would become Marvel Comics. The newly naturalistic comics, in which superheroes bickered, worried about money and behaved more like everyday people than noble archetypes, changed the industry. Lee, Kirby, such artists as Steve Ditko, Don Heck, Dick Ayers, John Romita Sr., Gene Colan, and John Buscema, and eventually writers including Roy Thomas and Archie Goodwin, ushered in a string of hit characters, including Spider-Man, Iron Man, the Hulk, Daredevil, and the X-Men.

In fall 1968, Goodman sold Magazine Management to the Perfect Film & Chemical Corporation. Goodman remained as publisher[24] until 1972, which included supporting Lee's decision to disregard the Comics Code Authority's disallowance of an The Amazing Spider-Man anti-drug themed story-arc requested by the US Department of Health, Education and Welfare, which discredited the censor.[25] Two years later he founded a new comics company, Seaboard Periodicals, which published under a new Atlas Comics imprint and is known to collectors as "Atlas/Seaboard Comics". It shut down the following year.

Perfect Film & Chemical renamed itself Cadence Industries in 1973, the first of many post-Goodman changes, mergers, and acquisitions that led to what became the 21st-century corporation Marvel Entertainment Group.

Men's magazines[edit]

Goodman's Magazine Management Company also published such men's adventure magazines as For Men Only, Male and Stag, edited during the 1950s by Noah Sarlat. As well, there was such ephemera as a one-shot black-and-white "nudie cutie" comic, The Adventures of Pussycat (Oct. 1968), that reprinted some stories of the sexy, tongue-in-cheek secret-agent strip that ran in some of his men's magazines. Marvel/Atlas writers Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Ernie Hart and artists Wally Wood, Al Hartley, Jim Mooney and Bill Everett and "good girl art" cartoonist Bill Ward contributed.[26][27]

By the late 1960s, these titles had begun evolving into erotic magazines, with pictorials about dancers and swimsuit models replaced by bikinis and discreet nude shots, with gradually fewer fiction stories.

Another division, Humorama, published digest-sized magazines of girlie cartoons by Ward, Bill Wenzel and Archie Comics great Dan De Carlo, as well as black-and-white photos of pin-up models including Bettie Page, Eve Meyer, stripper Lili St. Cyr and actresses Joi Lansing, Tina Louise, Irish McCalla, Julie Newmar and others. Abe Goodman, a relative, headed this division. Titles included Breezy, Gaze, Gee-Whiz, Joker, Stare, and Snappy. They were published from at least the mid-1950s to mid-1960s.

In addition to men's adventure magazines and Humorama, Goodman also published many other magazines covering a plethora of topics including several male-oriented glossy 5" × 7" digests in the early to mid-1950s (e.g. Focus, Photo, and Eye) prior to the development of Humorama, as well as many romance, film and television, sports and other general interest magazines spanning several decades.

Personal life[edit]

Goodman was married to Jean Davis, with whom he had children Iden, Charles, and Amy. He died June 6, 1992, at his home in Palm Beach, Florida, aged 84.[28]

Son Charles, known as "Chip", founded his own publishing company that produced 80 magazines in home, fitness, pornography and other niches, before dying of pneumonia in 1996, aged 55.[29] Grandson Jason Goodman circa 2010 announced a partnership with Ardden Entertainment to relaunch Goodman's 1970s Atlas Comics.[30]

Goodman's magazines[edit]

Pulp Magazines: see Red Circle

Romance and true crime magazines[edit]