Taschen, the well known “art book” publisher which has a slew of fantastic high quality titles to its name, recently announced the upcoming release of the 720-page 75 Years of Marvel: From the Golden Age to the Silver Screen by Marvel writer Roy Thomas.
The large “coffee table” format book will be released in November according to the publisher (or September, according to Amazon), which would be a nice, if tenuous, link with the debut of Marvel UK in 1972 since that was the month that saw the debut of Mighty World of Marvel for the first time).
The title joins three previous volumes from Taschen on DC Comics, 75 Years of DC Comics. The Art of Modern Mythmaking, The Golden Age of DC Comics and The Silver Age of DC Comics.
From the very first issue of pulp impresario Martin Goodman’s Marvel Comics in 1939, the comic book creators of Marvel’s Golden Age flipped the traditional fantasy script by placing the inhuman and the invincible into the real world. With the likes of the fiery android Human Torch, vengeful sea prince Sub-Mariner, and pip-squeak-turned-paragon Captain America, Marvel created a mythological universe grounded in a world that readers recognize as close to their own, brimming with humour and heartache.
In the early 1960s, this audacious approach launched the creation of heroes who have since become household names – Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, the Avengers, Thor, the X-Men – the list goes on. Fans still celebrate it as the Marvel Age of comics, an era populated by a pantheon of bickering heroes, misunderstood monsters, and noble villains.
In celebration of Marvel’s 75th anniversary, Taschen is releasing a magnum opus of the most influential comic book publisher today, with an inside look not only at its celebrated characters, but also at the “bullpen” of architects whose names are almost as familiar as the protagonists they brought to life — Stan “the Man” Lee, Jack “King” Kirby, along with a roster of greats like Steve Ditko, John Romita, John Buscema, Marie Severin, and countless others. With essays by comics historian and former Marvel editor-in-chief Roy Thomas, this book delves into the heart of thousands of costumed characters who continue to fight the good fight in comics, movies, and toy aisles of the world.
The XL-format book includes:
• More than 700 pages of near 2,000 images including vintage comic books, one-of-a-kind original art, behind-the-scenes photographs and film stills, as well as rare toys and collectibles
• A four-foot accordion-fold timeline, suitable for framing
• Biographies of more than 300 artists, writers, editors, and famous fans who helped shape Marvel’s history
While there have been hundreds of books on Marvel, the sheer size of this book enables celebration the whole scope of Marvel’s achievements. While other recent books have focused on the creators or characters, specific story arcs or eras, 75 Years of Marvel walks the tightrope in between all these elements, combining comics, original art, photographs, and other pop culture artifacts with their stories to convey a sense of how something that started as a fun, exciting diversion for schoolchildren could evolve into one of the main pillars of the entertainment industry as we know it today.
“Marvel from the start combined awesome artistic skill with a powerful mix of relevant, comparatively realistic storytelling,” say Taschen. “The inventive layering of stories to create a larger narrative that kids (and later teens and adults) could relate to became known as the Marvel Universe—which has since been called the largest and most complex effort of serial fiction ever attempted.
“We are so fortunate to have Roy Thomas, the authority on Marvel, to tell this story. As the first one in the door after Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko laid down the foundations, he was truly instrumental in helping the comics to grow up alongside their readers — and he knows all the stories behind the stories, to boot!”
There are plenty of items that will make this book a real must-have for Marvel fans (assuming you can stretch to the £90 price tag…). Bill Everett, Carl Burgos, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby laid the groundwork (along with Stan Lee) in the “Golden Age” of the 1940s. Featured modern masters include Barry Windsor-Smith, Jim Starlin, Frank Miller, John Byrne, Arthur Adams, and many more. But the bulk of the book showcases the explosion of creativity during the 1960s — the “Marvel Age of Comics”. In less than ten years, a tiny “bullpen” of artists and writers — Lee, Kirby, Ditko, Gene Colan, John Romita, Don Heck, Dick Ayers, along with Roy Thomas, John Buscema, Jim Steranko, among others—produced hundreds of dazzling new characters, from the Fantastic Four to Spider-Man, Hulk and Thor to the Silver Surfer. How so few people could have such a profound influence on popular culture in such a short time is without doubt the most mind-blowing Marvel tale.
While the book will inevitably gain attention for its superhero coverage, there are nuggets of Marvel history that will also get fresh appraisal, including the rarely explored “Atlas era” of the 1950s. The Atlas titles include horror and sci-fi, westerns and romance, and the art is top-notch, illustrating a developing mastery of storytelling across all the genres of fiction, much of it done under the strict, watchful eye of America’s then newly implemented Comics Code Authority.
“This mostly-forgotten era was not just a training ground for the best artists to get even better and faster, it planted the seeds for Stan Lee to reinvent the medium for all time,” say the publishers. “Marvel has stood at the pinnacle in all the years since.”
• 75 Years of Marvel: From the Golden Age to the Silver Screen by Roy Thomas, Josh Baker is on sale from 25th October 2014
Hardcover, 11.4 x 15.6 in., 720 pages