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 (writer)|
Jack Kirby (artist)
|Full name||Willie Lumpkin|
|Supporting character of||Fantastic Four, Spider-Man|
|Abilities||Ability to wiggle ears and nose|
Willie Lumpkin is a fictional supporting character appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character is best known as the mailman of the Fantastic Four in their self-titled comic book.
Newspaper comic strip
Mel Lazarus had done a strip called Miss Peach, which used not panels but one long panel instead. I liked that idea very much, so when Harold Anderson, the head of Publishers Syndicate, asked me to do a strip, I came up with Barney's Beat, which was about a New York City cop and all the characters on his patrol who he'd meet every day and there would be a gag. I did some samples with Dan DeCarlo, and I thought it was wonderful. Harold said it was too "big city-ish" and they're not going to care for it in the small towns because they don't have cops on a beat out there. He wanted something that would appeal to the hinterland, something bucolic. He said, "You know what I want, Stan? I want a mailman! A friendly little mailman in a small town." I don't remember if I came up with the name Lumpkin or he did, but I hated it. I think I came up with the name as a joke and he said, "Yeah, that's it! Good idea!"
Willie Lumpkin drew humor from the people and situations Willie would encounter along his mail delivery route in the small town of Glenville. The daily strip ran from December 1959 to May 6, 1961. A Sunday strip ran through May 28.
Lee and artist Jack Kirby then introduced their comic book version of Willie Lumpkin in Fantastic Four #11 (Feb. 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.
Lumpkin appeared in his own solo feature in Marvel Comics Presents #18 (May 1989). In this parody of A Christmas Carol, he 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 he hates Christmas.
Fictional character biography
In Marvel Comics, Willie Lumpkin serves as the postal worker mailman whose Manhattan route includes the joint home and office of the superhero group the Fantastic Four. On occasion he falls into the 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] or when he helped to save the team from the Mad Thinker. This incident involved Reed's trust in Lumpkin; he had hired the mailman to manipulate the machinery as part of a safety routine. Later Lumpkin 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]
Lumpkin has since retired, and his niece Wilhemina "Billie" Lumpkin has taken his position as the Fantastic Four's mail carrier.
He was interviewed about the Fantastic Four on the news show Lateline, saying how though the group took on cosmic menaces, they always found time to greet him. Sometime later, the super-team, miniaturized, entered his body to remove an otherwise inoperable brain tumor.
Lumpkin was later hired as a biology teacher for the 'Future Foundation', a school founded by the Fantastic Four. Willie enjoyed a trip to the moon when the Future Foundation and associates decided to hold a party.
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.
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 assist 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
- Lumpkin appears in the Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes episode "My Neighbor was a Skrull" voiced by Colin Murdock.
- Lumpkin appears in the 2005 Fantastic Four film portrayed by Stan Lee. Identified on-screen only as Willie, he is portrayed as a chipper mailman who delivers a letter to Dr. Richards as the Fantastic Four arrive at the Baxter Building. It was the first time in Lee's cameo appearances in a Marvel Comics-based film that he portrayed a character he created.
- Sanderson, Peter (2007). The Marvel Comics Guide to New York City. New York City: Pocket Books. pp. 42–48. ISBN 1-4165-3141-6.
- "Stan the Man & Roy the Boy: A Conversation Between Stan Lee and Roy Thomas". Comic Book Artist (2). Summer 1998. Retrieved 2013-12-30.
- Apeldoorn, Ger (November 11, 2013). "Late Mail". The Fabuleous Fifties.
- "Fantastic Four" Vol 1. #15 (June 1963)
- The Amazing Spider-Man #343 (Jan. 1991) at the Grand Comics Database.
- Spider-Man Holiday Special, 1995 (1995) at the Grand Comics Database.
- Fantastic Four vol. 3, #2 (Feb. 1998) at the Grand Comics Database
- Fantastic Four #543 (April 2007) at the Grand Comics Database
- Fantastic Four #606 (July 2012) at the Grand Comics Database
- FF #5 (2013)
- FF #16 (2014)
- "Marvels" Vol. 1 #1 (Jan. 1994)
- Ultimate Fantastic Four #1 (Feb. 2004)
- Ultimate Fantastic Four #19-20 (July 2005 - August 2005)
- Coggan, Devan (September 2, 2015). "Stan Lee says Fantastic Four flopped because he didn't have a cameo". Entertainment Weekly.
- Berggren, Victoria (July 19, 2017). "From 'X-Men' to 'Spider-Man': 35 of Stan Lee's Most Memorable Cameos". The Hollywood Reporter.