no prize


A No-Prize is a sham award given out by Marvel Comics to readers. Originally for those who spotted continuity errors in the comics, the current "No-Prizes" are given out for charitable works or other types of "meritorious service to the cause of Marveldom."

As the No-Prize evolved, it was distinguished by its role in explaining away potential continuity errors. Rather than rewarding fans for simply identifying such errors, a No-Prize was only awarded when a reader (often using hilariously tortured logic) successfully explained why the continuity error was not an error at all.


The No-Prize, originally implemented in the 1960s, was inspired by the policies of many other comic book publishers of the time — namely, that if a fan found a continuity error in a comic and wrote a letter to the publisher of the comic, he or she would receive a prize of cash, free comics, or something similar.

When readers began pressuring Marvel to start giving out a similar prize, Stan Lee instituted the "no-prize," which was awarded to a reader who first spotted a mistake, or came up with a plausible way to explain a mistake that many other people spotted, or made some great suggestion or performed a service for Marvel in general. Originally, the "prize" was nothing more than Lee publishing the letter in his "Stan's Soapbox" column and informing the letter-writer that he or she had won a no-prize, which was actually nothing.

Although the No-Prize had been intended by Lee as a reminder for his readers to "lighten up" and read comics for pleasure rather than for prizes, the no-prize soon became very popular, and recipients of the "award" began to write Stan and ask him why they had not received an actual prize. In response, Lee began mailing No-Prize winners empty envelopes that said "Congratulations, this envelope contains a genuine Marvel Comics No-Prize which you have just won!"


After Stan Lee stepped down as Marvel editor-in-chief in 1972, Marvel's various editors, who were in charge of dispensing No-Prizes, developed vastly differing policies towards awarding them. By the mid-1980s, these policies ranged from Ralph Macchio's practice of giving them away to anyone who wrote a letter asking for one to Mike Higgins' policy of not awarding them at all. The obsession for No-Prizes was negatively impacting the quality of letters sent to comic book letter columns, as readers were becoming so focused on pointing out errors that they were no longer responding to the comics' stories themselves.

In 1986, After a few years of this, editor Mark Gruenwald informed readers that his office would no longer award No-Prizes to anyone. The amount of No-Prizes given out after this plummeted, and before long they were eliminated altogether.

The digital No-Prize

On July 31st, 2006, Marvel Executive Editor Tom Brevoort instituted the digital No-Prize to be awarded for "Meritorious Service to Marveldom. " The first of these was awarded on August 12th, 2006, to a group of Marvel fans who donated a large number of comics to U.S. service members stationed in Iraq.


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