Moe Goodman, who would later adopt the name Martin, was the oldest son of 17 recorded children of Isaac Goodman (b. 1872) and Anna Gleichenhaus (b. 1875). His parents were Jewish immigrants who had met in the United States after separately moving from their native Vilna,
Lithuania, then part of Russian Empire. The family lived at different homes in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. As a young man, Moe traveled around the country during the Great Depression, living in hobo camps.
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. Goodman later became circulation manager himself, but the company went bankrupt in October 1932. 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.[n 1]
The pulp magazine Uncanny Tales (May 1940), bearing Goodman's Red Circle logo
Goodman's first publication was the Newsstand Publications pulp magazine Western Supernovel Magazine, premiering with cover-date May 1933. After the first issue he renamed it Complete Western Book Magazine, beginning with cover-date July 1933. 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. These were published under a variety of names, all owned by Goodman and sometimes marked as "Red Circle".
In 1937, returning from his honeymoon in Europe, Goodman and his wife had tickets on the Hindenburg, but were unable to secure seats together, so they took alternative transportation instead, avoiding the Hindenburg disaster.[better source needed] A story that they took a plane is incorrect as commercial trans-Atlantic flights were not available until 1939. In 1937, trans-Atlantic flights were still stunts that made aviators such as Dick Merrill and Beryl Markham famous and recipients of offers from Hollywood for movies.
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. It featured the first appearances of the hit characters the Human Torch and the Sub-Mariner, and quickly sold out 80,000 copies. Goodman produced a second printing, cover-dated November 1939, that then sold an approximate 800,000 copies. 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. 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.
Marvel Comics #1 (Oct. 1939), featuring the Human Torch. Art by Frank R. Paul.
In 1941, Timely published its third major character, the patriotic superhero Captain America by Simon and artist 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." Simon and Kirby departed Timely after 10 issues of Captain America, and Goodman appointed his wife’s cousin, Stan Lee, already there as an editorial assistant, as Timely's editor, a position Lee would hold for decades.
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.
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, staff and freelancers through 59 shell companies, from Animirth Comics to Zenith Publications. Throughout the 1950s, the company formerly known as Timely was called Atlas Comics.
Goodman, whose business strategy involved using several corporate names for various publishing ventures, sometimes attempted branding his line with the logo "Red Circle," which comics historian Les Daniels calls "a halfhearted attempt to establish an identity for what was usually described loosely as 'the Goodman group' ... a red disk surrounded by a black ring that bore the phrase 'A Red Circle Magazine.' But it appeared only intermittently, when someone remembered to put it on [a pulp magazine's] cover. Historian Jess Nevins, conversely, writes that, "Timely Publications [was how] Goodman's group [of companies] had become known; before this, it was known as 'Red Circle' because of the logo that Goodman had put on his pulp magazines. ... " The Grand Comics Database identifies 21 Goodman comic books from 1944 to 1959 with Red Circle, Inc. branding, and one 1948 comic under Red Circle Magazines Corp.
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—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.
In mid-1961, following rival DC Comics' successful revival of superheroes a few years earlier, Goodman assigned his comics editor, Stan Lee, to follow the trend again. He said, "Stan, we gotta put out a bunch of heroes. You know, there's a market for it." Lee's wife suggested that Lee experiment with stories he preferred, since he was planning on changing careers and had nothing to lose. In response, Lee and artist Jack Kirby created The Fantastic Four #1 (cover-dated Nov. 1961), giving their superheroes a flawed humanity in which they bickered, worried about money and behaved more like everyday people than noble archetypes. That series became the first major success of what would become Marvel Comics. The newly naturalistic comics 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Grandson Jason Goodman circa 2010 announced a partnership with Ardden Entertainment to relaunch Goodman's 1970s Atlas Comics.
^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 ..." Bell and Vassallo's 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. ... Sources contributing to the myth: the late Jerry Bails's Who's Who of American Comics, the late Les Daniels in Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World's Greatest Comics, and David Saunders in Illustration Magazine #14, Summer 2005."
^ abCity of New York, Department of Health Certificate and Record of Birth, January 18, 1908, No. 3268, lists name as "Moe". Bell and Vassallo list his name as "Moses", citing U.S. Census records, Bell, Blake; Vassallo, Michael J. (2013). The Secret History of Marvel Comics. Seattle: Fantagraphics Books. pp. 11–12, 102. ISBN978-1606995525.
^Bell, Vassallo, p. 16. Ro, in his 2004 book, p. 7, states Goodman
... worked for Independent News [partly founded by Eastern Distributing founder Paul Sampliner] alongside future [Archie Comics] publishers and rivals John Goldwater and Louis Silberkleit [as well as with] Frank Armer, who helped distribute Harry Donenfeld's Detective Comics. In 1932, Goodman and Silberkleit left Independent News, borrowed money, and formed Western Fiction Publishing, where they published the pulp magazine Complete Western Book [Magazine]. Decent sales inspired two of the same: Best Western and Quick Trigger Western Novel. Two years after forming Western Fiction, however, Silberkleit left."
^Writer-artist Bill Everett's Sub-Mariner had actually been created for an undistributed movie-theater giveaway comic, Motion Picture Funnies Weekly earlier that year, with the previously unseen, eight-page original story expanded by four pages for Marvel Comics #1.
^Both figures per researcher Keif Fromm, Alter Ego #49, p. 4 (caption)
^Daniels, Les (1991). Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World's Greatest Comics. New York: Harry N. Abrams. pp. 27 & 32–33. ISBN0-8109-3821-9."Timely Publications became the name under which Goodman first published a comic book line. He eventually created a number of companies to publish comics ... but Timely was the name by which Goodman's Golden Age comics were known." "Marvel wasn't always Marvel; in the early 1940s the company was known as Timely Comics. ... "
^ abBlack, Bruce, ed. "Lion". BookScans.com (fan site). Archived from the original on October 29, 2010. Retrieved August 15, 2011.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
^Hano in Waddles, Hank (September 25, 2009). "Bronx Banter Interview: Arnold Hano". Alex Bleth's Bronx Banter. Archived from the original on December 5, 2014. Retrieved November 27, 2014. I was the managing editor of Bantam Books from 1947 to '49 ... until I tried to unionize the shop and they fired me in 1949. I answered an ad to start a paperback line and I started Lion Books. ... [T]hat was until 1954. There was an Eisenhower recession then, and Martin Goodman, the boss there, cut everybody's salary ten percent. Well, I had an ex-wife and two kids and Bonnie and the kid, and that was my margin ... so I quit.