(born January 18
; died June 6
, 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
Pulps and the Golden Age of Comics
After traveling around the country as a young man during the Great Depression, living in hobo camps, Goodman became a salesperson for New York City publisher Paul Sampliner's Independent News, "alongside future comics publishers and rivals John Goldwater and Louis Silberkleit," as well as "Frank Armer, who helped distribute Harry Donenfeld's Detective Comics. In 1931, Goodman, Silberkleit, and Maurice Coyne formed Columbia Publications, one of the earliest publishers of pulp magazines, which Goodman left in 1932, and (with borrowed money) found his own companies including Western Fiction Publishing.
Goodman's first publication was Western Supernovel Magazine, premiering May 1933. After the first issue he renamed it Complete Western Book Magazine, beginning with cover-date July 1933.
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 jungle-adventure title Ka-Zar, starring its Tarzan-like namesake.
In 1939, with the emerging medium of comic books proving hugely popular, and the first superheroes setting the trend, Goodman contracted with newly formed comic-book "packager" Funnies, Inc. to supply material for a test comic book. Marvel Comics #1, cover-dated October 1939 and featuring the first appearances of the hit characters the Human Torch and the Sub-Mariner, quickly sold out 80,000 copies. Goodman produced a second printing, cover-dated November 1939, that then sold an approximate 800,000 copies. With a hit on his hands, Goodman began assembling an in-house staff, hiring Funnies, Inc. writer-artist Joe Simon as editor, and the first official employee of the new Timely Publications. Timely Comics became the umbrella name for the several paper corporations that comprised Goodman's comic-book division, which would in ensuing decades evolve into Marvel Comics.
In 1941, Timely published its third major character, Simon & Kirby's seminal patriotic superhero Captain America, whose success led to Simon hiring his artist collaborator, future comics legend Jack Kirby, subsequently "hir[ing] inker Syd Shores to be Timely's third employee." Simon & Kirby departed Timely 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.
The name "Timely Comics" went into disuse after Goodman began using the globe logo of the newsstand-distribution company he owned, Atlas, starting with the covers of comic books dated November 1951. This united a line put out by the same publisher and staff through 59 shell companies, from Animirth Comics to Zenith Publications. Throughout the 1950s, the company formerly known as Timely was called Atlas Comics.
Magazines and paperback books
As the market for pulp magazines waned, Goodman, in addition to comic books, transitioned to conventional magazines — published through a concern dubbed Magazine Management Company
at least as far back as 1953 — and in 1949 founded Lion Books, a paperback line. Goodman used 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.
In mid-1961, following rival DC Comics
' successful revival of superheroes a few years earlier, Goodman's comic-book editor and art director, Stan Lee
, and freelance artist Jack Kirby
created The Fantastic Four
#1 (cover-dated Nov. 1961), 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, such artists as Steve Ditko
, Don Heck
, Dick Ayers
, John Romita Sr.
, Gene Colan
, and John Buscema
, and eventually writers including Roy Thomas
and Archie Goodwin
, ushered in a string of hit characters, including Spider-Man
, Iron Man
, the Hulk
, and, in a 1970s revival of the unsuccessful 1960s team, the X-Men
In fall 1968, Goodman sold Magazine Management to the Perfect Film and Chemical Corporation. Goodman remained as publisher until 1972. Two years later he founded a new comics company, Seaboard Periodicals, closing it a year afterward.
Perfect Film and Chemical renamed itself Cadence Industries in 1973, the first of many post-Goodman changes, mergers, and acquisitions that led to what became the 21st-century corporation Marvel Entertainment Group.
Goodman's Magazine Management Company also published such men's adventure
magazines as For Men Only
, edited during the 1950s by Noah Sarlat. As well, there was such ephemera as a one-shot
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
By the late 1960s, these titles had begun evolving into erotic magazines, with pictorials about dancers and swimsuit models replaced by bikinis and discreet nude shots, with gradually fewer fiction stories.
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.
: "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
— 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: "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 signalling 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: "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".
List of Goodman's pulp magazines
- Adventure Trails
- All Baseball Stories
- All Basketball Stories
- All Football Stories
- All Star Detective Stories
- All Star Fiction / All Star Adventure Fiction / All Star Adventure Magazine
- American Sky Devils
- The Angel Detective
- Best Detective
- Best Love Magazine
- Best Sports Magazine
- Best Western / Best Western Novels
- Big Baseball Stories
- Big Book Sports
- Big Sports Magazine
- Children's Book Digest
- Complete Adventure Magazine
- Complete Detective
- Complete Sports / Complete Sports Action Stories for Men
- Complete War Novels
- Complete Western Book Magazine
- Cowboy Action Novels
- Detective Mysteries
- Detective Short Stories
- Dynamic Science Stories
- Five Western Novels
- Gunsmoke Western
- Justice (digest)
- Ka-Zar / Ka-Zar the Great
- Marvel Science Stories / Marvel Tales / Marvel Stories / Marvel Science Fiction
- Modern Love
- Modern Love Stories
- Mystery Tales
- Quick Trigger Western Novels Magazine
- Ranch Love Stories
- Real Confessions
- Real Love
- Real Mystery Magazine / Real Mystery
- Real Sports
- Romantic Short Stories
- Six-Gun Western
- Sky Devils
- Sports Action
- Sports Leaders Magazine
- Sports Short Stories
- Star Detective Magazine
- Star Sports Magazine
- 3-Book Western (digest)
- Three Western Novels / Three Western Novels Magazine
- Top-Notch Detective
- Top-Notch Western
- True Crime / True Crime Magazine
- Two Daring Love Novels
- Two-Gun Western Novels Magazine / Two-Gun Western / Two-Gun Western Novels / 2-Gun Western
- Uncanny Stories
- Uncanny Tales
- War Stories Magazine
- War Stories Magazine
- Western Digest (note: may not exist)
- Western Fiction Magazine / Western Fiction Monthly / Western Fiction
- Western Magazine
- Western Novelettes
- Western Short Stories
- Western Supernovel
- Wild West Stories & Complete Novel Magazine
- Wild Western Novels Magazine
All-American Sports and All-American Western were published by Columbia Publications.
Detective Star Magazine was once listed as a possible pulp publication. New research has shown this to the result of a transcription error. No such title exists.
Famous Stories was not published by Martin Goodman. There are several magazines with this title, or something similar; none were part of the Red Circle Group. The Famous Story Magazine was published in the UK by Atlas Publishing & Distributing Ltd. This firm had no connection with Goodman.
List of Goodman's humor magazines
- Best Cartoons from the Editors of Male & Stag, Magazine Management — published at least from 1973-1975)
- Cartoon Capers — published at least from vol. 4, #2 (1969) - vol. 10, #3 (1975)
- Cartoon Laughs — confirmed extant: vol 12, #3 (1973)
- Comedy — published at least January, 1942, a digest sized publication
- Gayety — published at least September, 1941
- Joker — published at least Spring, 1941
- Snap — published at least October, 1940
- Zippy — published at least May, 1941
List of Goodman's men's-adventure and erotic magazines
- Action Life Magazine — published at least volume 4, #4 (Nov. 1954), Atlas Magazine Pub.
- Complete Man Magazine — published at least between Sept. 1965 and April 1967, Atlas Magazines
- For Men Only — confirmed at least from vol. 4, #11 (Dec. 1957) through at least vol. 26, #3 (March 1976)
- Published by Canam Publishers at least 1957), Newsstand Publications Inc. (at least 1966-1967), Perfect Film Inc. (at least 1968), Magazine Management Co. Inc. (at least 1970)
- Male — published at least vol. 1, #2 (July 1950) through 1977
- Male Home Companion
- Stag — at least 314 issues published February 1942 - Feb. 1976
- Published by Official Commmunications Inc. (1951), Official Magazines (Feb. 1952 - March 1958), Atlas (July 1958 - Oct. 1968), Magazine Management (Dec. 1970 to end)
- Stag Annual — at least 18 issues published 1964-1975
- Published by Atlas (1964–1968), Magazine Management (1970 – 1975)
1970s and later
- FILM International — covering X-rated movies
List of Goodman's true crime magazines
- Action Life Magazine — published at least volume 4, #4 (Nov. 1954), Atlas Magazine Pub.
- Complete Detective Cases — published at least between March 1941 and Fall 1954, Postal Pub. Inc.
- Leading Detective Cases — published at least May 1947, Zenith Pub. Corp.
- National Detective Cases — published at least March 1941.
List of Goodman's movie magazines
- Screen Stars — published at least October 1944.
List of Goodman's other magazines
- Celebrity — extant in at least 1977
- It's Amazing — issue #1 dated only 1949, published by Stadium Publishing.
- Movie World
- Sex Health — issue #1 dated August 1937.