In 1939, it was becoming clear in the publishing industry that there was money to be made by producing comic books. One of the people who saw this happening was Martin Goodman, who was a publisher of pulp fiction magazines. Goodman’s first comic book, Marvel Comics, sold 80,000 copies. Impressed, he then put out a second printing, which sold 800,000 copies. He was now fully on board with comic book production and hired a number of creators to work for him directly, including Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, who would soon produce Captain America Comics for Timely.
Timely rode out the superhero boom of the 1940s and moved on with the rest of the industry to crime comics, western comics, monster comics and the like until 1961, when Kirby and Stan Lee (who had become the Editor-in-Chief of the company in the 1940s) debuted “Fantastic Four,” kicking off a second superhero boom known as the “Marvel Age,” as the company took on the new name of Marvel Comics. By the start of the 1970s, Marvel was the top-selling company in comics, a distinction it has continued to hold ever since. That success has not been without some behind the scenes drama, though. Here are 15 crazy behind the scenes stories from Marvel’s long history (in chronological order).
15. THE NYPD GUARDED MARVEL FROM NAZIS
The famous cover of Captain America Comics #1 featuring Captain America punching Adolf Hitler is a classic, but what’s important to remember about the cover and what sometimes gets lost in the vagaries of history, is that the United States had not entered World War II at the time that the comic book came out. In fact, the United States was still a year away from getting involved in the conflict, so at the time of the release of Captain America Comics #1, this was a superhero punching out the leader of another country. It was not a piece of war propaganda, it was a political statement by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, the creators of Captain America.
It also aggravated the supporters of Nazi Germany living in the United States. They protested Timely and even made threats of violence towards the young creators behind the comic. Eventually, New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia actually personally contacted Joe Simon to tell him, “You boys over there are doing a good job. The City of New York will see that no harm will come to you.” Timely received police protection and eventually the attention died down.