MARTIN GOODMAN WAS A SUCCESSFUL publisher
of pulp fiction magazines that covered all the bases: war,
horror, romance, adventure and science fiction. But he had never
created titles to rival those created by his competition, which
was probably why he was receptive to a business proposal from an
outfit called Funnies Inc.
The deal was simple: Funnies Inc. was prepared to give
Goodman a complete package of artwork every month for him to
print, and the printing costs would be covered by the service
fee asked by Funnies. By 1939, several publishers had proven the
profit to be made in the comic industry, so Goodman decided to
give it a shot.
They probably had no idea of the history about to be made.
Funnies Inc. employed several veterans of the booming superhero
business, and they came up with a lot of new ideas for costumed
adventurers. Bill Everett's creation, the Sub-Mariner, was given
the anchor spot. Carl Burgos, seeing Bill's watery creation,
perhaps saw a fitting balance in the Human Torch, an android
whose artificial skin burst into flames upon contact with
oxygen. And Ben Thompson created Ka-Zar the Great, a character
that carried the civilized-man-in-the-jungle theme just far
enough away from a certain Lord of the Apes to avoid any
Marvel Comics #1 (retitled Marvel Mystery Comics
by the time the second issue hit the stands) was devoured by an
audience eager for original stories about superheroes, and their
adventures thrilled readers for a decade. And when Marvel
Comics got back into the superhero business in the 1960s, the
writers didn't forget the heroes in that first book that made it
all possible, eventually resurrecting the Human Torch, the
Sub-Mariner, and Ka-Zar for a new generation of comic readers.