How Timely Became Marvel Comics

Timely Publications began in New York around 1939 as a publisher of comic books and pulp magazines. At the time, founder Martin Goodman, with partner Abraham Goodman, found a distribution deal with Funnies to produce comic books for the American market. At the time, comics vied for reader attention with a variety of fiction magazines. With the release of Marvel Comics issue 1 in October of 1939, the comic landscape would forever be changed.

While comic fans rightly credit Action Comics 1 with beginning the golden age of comics, Marvel Comics One laid the foundation for what would become one of the greatest comic publishers of all time. Emblazoned with the tagline “Action, Mystery, Adventure”, the first issue introduced Human Torch, Angel and gave Sub-Mariner the spotlight after his limited distribution first appearance in Motion Picture Funnies Weekly. 

As Timely innovated, they also carried forward characters from pulp fiction including Kazar among others. Timely Comics changes the Industry With an initial distribution of fewer than 100,000, Timely couldn’t keep up with demand and had to go back to the printing press.  Now that they had the attention of the publishing industry, Timely began to evolve into a focused comics publisher and hired legends such as Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.

To further the appeal of the series, Timely updated the title to Marvel Mystery Comics, which would continue up until the end of the 1940s. The publisher also created iconic characters in Captain America Comics No. 1 at the end of 1940, as well as Daring Mystery Comics, Mystic Comics and a Human Torch dedicated series.

While the Avengers and the Fantastic Four garner attention today, Human Torch, Sub-Mariner and Captain Marvel would be featured in a series of war-era golden age comics including All Winners Comics and All Select Comics. In many ways, All Winners Comics #1 would serve as the first major super-hero group and lay the groundwork for what would become Marvel’s iconic superhero teams today.

Since Margin Goodman operated a variety of companies underneath his publishing empire, the titular Marvel Mystery Comics helped drive the adoption of the Marvel Brand which would be formalized in 1961 after exploring publishing under Atlas News Comics in the 1950s.With the formal creation of Marvel Comics in the early 1960s, the iconic Marvel characters of Spider-Man, Incredible Hulk, Thor, Iron Man and the Fantastic Four would begin to pave the way for the Silver Age of Comics