Thursday, July 11, 2019


While I'm waiting for the new NOT BRAND ECCH collection to wing its ways to my door I figured I'd bone up on my Marvel history by dragging this book out of one of the dozen or so apple boxes I have filled with over fiftysome years of flotsam I never had the good sense to toss out. Good selection ya made there Chris, for ORIGINS OF MARVEL COMICS is one of the better ways to re-acquaint oneself with the Marvel Universe, or at least what the Marvel Universe used to be before Stan Lee's megalomania became so convoluted in its attempt to top past accomplishment after past accomplishment to the point where the entire line became a total mess of pretension and feeble attempts at high art that ultimately didn't matter anymore. And at one point I must admit it didn't mean a thing to me either what with the writers and artists falling into the ol' "going through the motions" trap that had turned something that was once an obsession into more flea market sales material to dump on my part, Maybe a bad move then considering all the worthy titles I did part with, but at the time it seemed like the best thing for me to do. And, come to think of it, so did cleaning my genital area with Ajax which only shows just how discombobulated a fifteen-year-old can be.

When this book came out just in time for the Christmas market of '74 it really was a godsend. That's only because by this time both the original an the reprint series issues of the very early sixties Marvel faves (which had pretty much defined what that company would mean to more comic mad kids for at least the next few decades) had long vamoosed the flea market stacks leaving us true fans little of the early Marvel taste to suck on. Oh yeah, there were still the Kirby and Ditko monster/fantasy comics comin' out, mostly with fresh covers in the new Marvel style that fooled neophytes like Brad Kohler into thinking they were brand new spanking fresh fodder for his teenbo fantasies. (And frankly I was fooled at one time picking a MARVEL'S GREATEST COMICS seeing a Jack Kirby reprint and thinking the guy was doing double-duty for the competition while he was also cranking out MISTER MIRACLETHE FOREVER PEOPLETHE NEW GODS and JIMMY OLSEN which proves what a stoop I was a shall remain!) But as far as those early costumed hero epics which still seemed so new and fresh even with the Cold War plots and space trip mania a good ten years later---zip. zero, nada, and that made me furious because even at that early stage in life I could tell that 1962 had CLASS and as for 1972...well, I wasn't so sure of that...

So if ya didn't get the originals when they first came out or via the flea market circuit this book was the best opportunity to cop at least a little bit of the glory. It was also the perfect way to gauge the Marvel evolution from the days when it was reflecting the boffo Amerigan cultural lunge of the oft-loathed late-fifties and early-sixties until everything seemed to explode at a time when youth kultur (and comic books were always a humongous part of that) was startin' to earn a li'l respect 'round '66 way. And yeah, a guy like me who only knew about the seventies Spider-Man and the legend of Steve Ditko would be more'n just "wowed" to read that by-now hackneyed character's debut saga!

Even the more up-to-date "modern" efforts that were plunked after the origins in order to pad things else were also a joy not just for doofs like me who could always use another story to help us through the drudgery of puberty itching, but for those serious aficionados who liked to study art in detail and pick at stories for lack of continuity. Back in school we had a NAME for those kind of people...

Stan Lee's intros are not especially helpful but they just might educate a few unaware types who wonder just how these characters were coagulated in his brain. His style is easy enough to digest and fits his crafted persona just right, and it's not hard to see what with his breezy pace 'n posture just how this guy has influenced not only a generation of rock fanzine writers but myself for that matter.

Of course given the success of this Lee just hadda crank out SON OF ORIGINS OF MARVEL COMICS which duplicated the same format and reminiscences with some of the heroes who missed out on being in the first edition. We'll leave that for a different post, and for a different box of that aforementioned flotsam that I have to comb through one of these days. Besides, I can't find it right now.


MoeLarryAndJesus said...

I haunted my local bookstore for a month before this came out.

Even back then, though, Marvel was doing a decent job of keeping the old stuff available. Titles like Marvel's Greatest Comics and Marvel's Collector Classics and so forth were kicking around. And you could always send a few bucks to Howard Ripoffsky.

Kid said...

It's a shame that the corner page numbers were removed from the stories, and some of the art 'touch-ups' were rather clumsily executed. Also, the Dr. Strange stories were printed out of sequence in the first printings, but Origins Of Marvel Comics was THE book to have back in 1974/'75. It's still a good read now.