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Personal History

Martin Goodman (born[1] in 1908 as Moe Goodman, Brooklyn, New York City, New York, United States; died June 6, 1992, Palm Beach, Florida) was an American publisher of pulp magazines, paperback books, men's adventure magazines, and comic books, launching the company that would become Marvel Comics.

Professional History

Pulps and the Golden Age of Comics[]

In 1933, Goodman worked for Louis Silberkleit, who formed with his partners, the Shade brothers from Philadelphia, Newsstand Publications. Silberkleit left the business in 1934, and it was taken over by Goodman after he paid off a debt to printer W.F. Hall.

Goodman's business strategy involved using several corporate names for various publishing ventures, such as Red Circle. 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 Tarzan-like Ka-Zar.

Timely Comics was the umbrella title for Goodman's comics division, which would in ensuing decades evolve into Marvel Comics. Joe Simon was its first editor.

In 1939 Marvel Comics #1 featured the debut of Carl Burgos's Human Torch and reprinted the first appearance of Bill Everett's Namor the Sub-Mariner.

In 1941 Timely published Simon & Kirby's seminal patriotic superhero Captain America. Simon & Kirby departed after 10 issues, and Goodman appointed Stan Lee as Timely's editor, a position Lee would hold for decades.

With the post-war lessening of interest in superheroes, Goodman published a wider variety of genres including horror, Westerns, teen humor, crime, and war comics.

During the 1950s, the company formerly known as Timely was called Atlas Comics.

Paperback books[]

Goodman started Lion Books, a paperback line, in 1949, using 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.

New American Library bought Lion in 1957, and several Lion titles were reprinted under its Signet label. Authors that Lion published included such notables as Robert Bloch, David Goodis, and Jim Thompson.

Marvel Comics[]

In 1961, following rival DC Comics' successful revival of superheroes a few years earlier, comics editor-in-chief Stan Lee and freelance artist Jack Kirby debuted Fantastic Four #1, the first hit of what would become Marvel Comics. The newly naturalistic comics, in which superheroes bickered, worried about money and behaved more like everyday people than noble archetypes, changed the industry. Lee, Kirby and such artists as Steve Ditko and Don Heck eventually ushered in a string of hit characters, including Spider-Man, Iron Man, the Hulk, and the X-Men.

In 1968, Goodman sold his publishing businesses to the Perfect Film and Chemical Corporation. It grouped these businesses in a subsidiary called Magazine Management Co. Goodman remained as publisher until 1972. Two years later he founded a new comics company, Seaboard Periodicals, but it folded a year afterward.

Men's magazines[]

Goodman's Magazine Management Company also published such men's adventure magazines as For Men Only, Male and Stag, edited during the 1950s by Noah Sarlat. As well, there was such ephemera as a black-and-white "nudie cutie" comic, The Adventures of Pussycat (Oct. 1968) that reprinted some stories of the sexy, tongue-in-cheek secret-agent strip that ran in some of his men's magazines. Marvel/Atlas writers Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and Ernie Hart; and artists Wally Wood, Al Hartley, Jim Mooney, and Bill Everett; and "good girl art" cartoonist Bill Ward contributed.

Another division, Humorama, published digest-sized magazines of girlie cartoons by Ward, Bill Wenzel and Archie Comics great Dan De Carlo, as well as black-and-white photos of pin-up models including Bettie Page, Eve Meyer, stripper Lili St. Cyr and actresses Joi Lansing, Tina Louise, Irish McCalla, Julie Newmar and others. Abe Goodman, a relative, headed this division. Titles included Breezy, Gaze, Gee-Whiz, Joker, Stare, and Snappy. They were published from at least the mid-1950s to mid-1960s.

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"x7" 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.


Dorothy Gallagher, "Adventures in the Mag Trade" (The New York Times on the Web, May 31 1998) [1]: "At Magazine Management, magazines were produced the way Detroit produced cars. I worked on the fan-magazine line. On the other side of a five-foot partition was the romance-magazine line. And across a corridor were the financial staples of the organization, the men's magazines — Stag, For Men Only, Male — for which, at one time or another, Mario Puzo, Bruce Jay Friedman, David Markson, Mickey Spillane and Martin Cruz Smith wrote, until they became too exalted and rich to do it anymore. I'm almost forgetting the comic-book line, where Stan Lee co-created Spider-Man, known to every connoisseur of classic comics."

Adam Parfrey, It's A Man's World: Men's Adventure Magazines, the Postwar Pulps ISBN 0-922915-81-4 [2]: "Most scribes laboring for Martin Goodman's Magazine Management firm and other repositories of adventure magazines spoke of feeling like well-compensated slaves of a very particular style ['man triumphant'] that was not their own. This was not the style with which editor Bruce Jay Friedman felt most comfortable, and when editing publications for Martin Goodman he unsuccessfully tried to talk him out of running advertisements for trusses, an ad signaling the magazine's target audience: blue-collar yahoos. It would be years before he could raise his head at industry cocktail parties, when his acclaimed examples of 'black-humor fiction' were seen as appropriate material for a hipper, more monied crowd."

Roy Thomas [3]: "I was startled to learn in '65 that Marvel was just part of a parent company called Magazine Management. A lot of people from other departments went on to fame and fortune during Marvel's early days: Bruce Jay Friedman, Mario Puzo, Ernest Tidyman, and Rona Barrett".

Work History


List of Goodman's pulp magazines[]

  • Adventure Trails
  • All Star Adventure Fiction
  • All Star Adventure Magazine
  • All Star Detective Stories
  • American Sky Devils
  • The Angel Detective
  • Best Love Magazine
  • Best Sports Magazine
  • Best Western Magazine
  • Complete Detective
  • Complete Sports
  • Complete War Novels
  • Complete Western Book Magazine
  • Cowboy Action Novels
  • Detective Mysteries
  • Detective Short Stories
  • Detective Star Magazine
  • Dynamic Science Stories
  • Famous Stories
  • Gunsmoke Western
  • Ka-zar
  • Ka-zar the Great
  • Marvel Science Stories
  • Marvel Tales
  • Marvel Stories
  • Marvel Science Stories
  • Marvel Science Fiction
  • Mystery Tales
  • Real Confessions
  • Real Love
  • Real Mystery Magazine
  • Real Sports
  • Six-Gun Western
  • Sky Devils
  • Sports Action
  • Star Detective Magazine
  • Star Sports Magazine
  • Top-Notch Detective
  • Top-Notch Western
  • Two-Gun Western Stories
  • Two-Gun Western Novel Magazine
  • Uncanny Stories
  • Uncanny Tales
  • War Stories Magazine
  • Western Fiction Monthly
  • Western Novelettes
  • Western Short Stories
  • Wild West Stories & Complete Novel Magazine

See Also

Links and References


  1. City of New York, Department of Health Certificate and Record of Birth, January 18, 1908, No. 3268. Daniels, Les, Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World's Greatest Comics (Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (1991), p. 17 (offline) gives 1910, Brooklyn, for birth; the Michigan State University Libraries Special Collections Division: Reading Room Index to the Comic Art Collection, "Goo" to "Goodman" gives life-dates as 1910-1992.