Willie Lumpkin demonstrates his ear wiggling "power" in his debut appearance in Fantastic Four #11 (Feb, 1963). Art by Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers.
|First appearance||(in daily comics): ? (1960), (in comic books): Fantastic Four #11 (February 1963)|
|Created by||Stan Lee
|Full name||Willie Lumpkin|
|Supporting character of||Fantastic Four, Spider-Man|
|Abilities||Ability to wiggle ears and nose|
Fictional character biography
Newspaper comic strip
The character was originally created for a syndicated, daily comic strip by writer Stan Lee and artist Dan DeCarlo. Lee had initially submitted samples of a strip about a New York City beat cop, but was told by his editor that it was too "big city-ish" and that he wanted a friendly mailman to better appeal to mainstream America. Willie Lumpkin, which was only published in 1960, drew humor from the people and situations Willie Lumpkin would encounter along his mail delivery route in the small town of "Glenville."
Lee and artist Jack Kirby then introduced their comic book version of Willie Lumpkin in Fantastic Four #11 (February, 1963). The comic book Lumpkin is depicted as significantly older than in the comic strip, though the character's good nature was retained, as were references to his past as a mailman in Glenville, which the comic book placed in Nebraska.
In his first comic book appearance, Lumpkin is represented as having befriended the Fantastic Four, to whom he makes regular fan mail deliveries at their Baxter Building headquarters in New York City. He half-jokingly requests to join the team on the grounds that he has the "power" to wiggle his ears. He serves as their mailman for many years, and on occasion falls into the zone of danger that typically surrounds the adventuring heroes. Examples include a story in which he is forced to spend Christmas Eve locked in a closet while the Fantastic Four fight the Super-Skrull,[volume & issue needed] when he helped to save the team from the Mad Thinker,[volume & issue needed] or when he is mind-controlled into accessing Doctor Doom's time machine by a minion of Immortus.[volume & issue needed] An alien Skrull also impersonates him in another story to infiltrate the Fantastic Four's headquarters.[volume & issue needed] Willie Lumpkin also crossed over into Spider-Man comics, where he briefly dates Spider-Man's Aunt May.(vol. 1, #343)
Willie Lumpkin appeared in his own solo feature in Marvel Comics Presents #18. The fan-favorite story was a parody of A Christmas Carol in which Lumpkin is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past, who had intended to haunt cantankerous Spider-Man nemesis J. Jonah Jameson but couldn't find his address. The story concludes with the normally amiable postman deciding that he hates Christmas.
Willie has since retired, and his niece Billie has taken his position as the Fantastic Four's mail carrier.
Willie appears in Fantastic Four #543, being interviewed about the FF on the news show 'Lateline'. He talks about how, though the group took on cosmic menaces, they always found time to greet him. Willie is found to have an incurable brain tumor in Fantastic Four #606, so the team goes into his body to remove it themselves.
Marvels is a "history" of the world of Marvel super-heroes painted by Alex Ross and which spans from the late 1930s to the 1960s. In one scene, main character Phil Sheldon, a journalist who observes the Marvel characters from a distance (and sometimes close-up), meets his ex-girlfriend in a movie theatre where she introduces him to her date, Bill Lumpkin. With a smile, Lumpkin tells Sheldon that they have met though he states that Sheldon will not remember where, causing the reporter a little embarrassment.[volume & issue needed]
In the Ultimate Marvel Universe, there is a government agent named Lumpkin, who works for the agency that runs the think-tank/school in the Baxter Building. His first name is not mentioned. He is in his forties and overweight. He is initially shown recruiting Reed Richards. He has expressed a romantic interest in Grimm's mother. Lumpkin and three of his men assists the Four in confronting the Mad Thinker, a former Baxter Building student. The entire group is knocked out by tranquilizing chemicals. Reed saves everyone.
In other media
- Willie Lumpkin appears in the Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes episode "My Neighbor was a Skrull" voiced by Colin Murdock.
- Willie Lumpkin appears in the 2005 Fantastic Four film portrayed by his own creator Stan Lee. This marks the first time that Lee's "Marvel movie cameos" have amounted to him actually portraying a character he helped create.
- Sanderson, Peter (2007). The Marvel Comics Guide to New York City. New York City: Pocket Books. pp. 42–48. ISBN 1-4165-3141-6.
- Marvel Comics Presents #18 (May, 1989)
- Fantastic Four #2 (Feb. 1998)
- Fantastic Four #543 (Feb. 2007)
- Fantastic Four #606 (May 2012)
- Ultimate Fantastic Four #1 (Feb. 2004)
- Ultimate Fantastic Four #19-20 (July 2005 - August 2005)
- Dan Decarlo Website
- A Conversation between Stan Lee and Roy Thomas, includes dialogue about the Willie Lumpkin comic strip