The Maker of Marvel

The Founder of Marvel Comics

Just about everyone knows who Stan Lee is, mostly because of his various cameos in the Marvel movies. People also know him because he helped create many heroes, such as the Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, the X-Men, and of course, Spider-Man. Some know who Jack Kirby is, the comic book artist that helped create over half of the most popular heroes in both Marvel and DC. However, how many of you know who Martin Goodman is? Come on, raise your hand. Hmmm…only a few of you? That's OK, I am about to tell you who he is.

Martin himself was not responsible for creating really any superheroes for Marvel, other than the idea of Captain America. No, Martin Goodman was the Maker of Marvel; he was the guy who started the entire company from scratch.

In order to understand how he created the massive comic book empire known today as Marvel Comics, we first have to start by knowing who Martin Goodman is.

You see, my friends, Martin was born in 1908 in Brooklyn, New York in a Jewish family that immigrated from Europe prior to World War I. When Martin was born, he was given the birth name of Moe (and no he does not own a tavern or have a chain of Southwestern restaurants!)

As young Martin grew up, his family seemed to keep endlessly growing. In fact, he had over a dozen siblings; it was thought to be as many as seventeen! Hats off to his mom for being able to have that many children. Imagine having like twenty people in a cramped New York City apartment. Just yikes.

He grew up during the Roaring Twenties, when America was having a decade long celebration and economic success due to the victory of the first World War. Unfortunately, by the time he reached adulthood, that fun era was over and the Great Depression had begun. In order to stay alive, he would sleep in Hobo Camps…as many had to do during that time.

Founder of Marverl The Story Continues

Yet despite hardships, he managed to fall in love and marry Jean. For their honeymoon, they were planning to fly in the Hindenburg, but they were not able to get tickets to sit next to each other, so they decided not to go. That decision is what saved their lives. For those of you who don’t know about the Hindenburg, it was a blimp that had dazzled the world. In many ways the story was similar to the Titanic, they were both the biggest luxury ships of the time; one was by air and the other was by sea. Both had a tragic accident that sent both of the ships to their demise. 

Shortly after avoiding death, Martin met Louis Silberkleit. The two created a magazine company, but it didn’t work out. Louis would go on to create Archie Comics, and Martin would create Timely Comics, the company that eventually would turn into Marvel. He only started with a small handful of people, one of those jobs was given to Jean’s cousin, Stanley Martin Lieber…who would become known as Stan Lee.

Timely started off with some big superheroes of the time, like Namor the Sub-Mariner and the Original Human Torch (not the one from the Fantastic Four), but they were not in the same league as some competitor heroes like Superman and Batman. It was not until late in the year 1940, when the first really big hero hit the pages.

You see, in the early years of Timely Comics, the Nazis had invaded Poland and the second World War had begun. For roughly a year, it was a European War, but the news about what was going on had spread across the United States.

Martin, being a Jewish European himself, was greatly affected by the war. So, he decided to do something about it. Since America was not part of the war, but they were sending supplies to our English allies, Martin and his team decided to make a statement. He believed that America should join the war. In the month of December, Timely Comics would create a hero that sparked a revolution to countless Americans. Captain America.

 Captain America First Comic Cover

One year after the release of Captain America, the USA joined the Allies in the war. Some believe today that it was the creation of this beloved superhero that helped motivate people to want to fight in the war (of course the tragedy of Pearl Harbor helped a lot too).  

After the war, Martin would stay in charge of Timely for the next two decades. In that time the company changed its name to Atlas and then Marvel. During that time, dozens of superheroes were created. He eventually sold Marvel in 1968 and retired. He passed away on June 11th 1992, having the Maker of Marvel’s journey come to an end.

You see, Martin was the big boss of Marvel. He didn’t really work on the day-to-day stuff, but instead focused on the whole company. He hired people who helped create, draw, and write the vast number of superheroes that the company created.

The best way to think of a comparison to Martin’s job in Marvel, you can look at it similar to a sports team. Many people know about the players or the head coach that each team has, but the owners are not as commonly known. You see when a new team is being created, an expansion team, the first person to have say in the team is the owner. They put the money down and make the team happen. Then the owner would hire people like the General Manager and Coaches to make the team a reality.

Martin Goodman was the owner of Marvel, and was the person who made it a reality. He spent almost thirty years trying to make Marvel the way it is today. From starting with nothing, to ending up creating one of the two juggernauts of the comic book industry. It is pretty impressive. So, remember, people like Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, and Jack Kirby may have created Marvel’s beloved characters, but they all worked for the Maker of Marvel.

Thank you for everything Martin.

Be Innovative, Noah D




images found on public wiki sites

Cover of Captain America Comics #1 (December 1940, cover dated March 1941). Art by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.


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