I recently acquired this well-worn copy of FANTASTIC FOUR #41, from 1965. Sure, I've read the interior tale before, in reprints, hardback collections, etc., but it's always great to read and absorb the real thing, including the voluminous letters pages. I was so struck by the letters column, that I wanted to reproduce it here, to demonstrate what made these Marvel comics so darned vital and exciting, and to maybe peel back the curtain a bit on exactly what Stan Lee was doing then, as he (and his many co-creator/artists like Jack Kirby) garnered legions of new fans, fans who were tired of the same old superhero formula being put into play at rival companies! Click below to enlarge!
2. By including a blurb about changes in other comics right on the letters page, Stan makes it seems like this really was late-breaking news that just had to be relayed to fans!
3. In later years, the famed "Marvel checklist" would be included on other pages, but, by slamming it right into the letters page, it again makes these other books seem essential and red-hot! "Stop reading this page, and run out and get these books now, fans!"
4. Even more hard-sell of other Marvel products, but Stan wisely softens the blow by wrapping the product pitch in humor and self-deprecation, giving the reader a laugh in exchange for the "ad time!"
6. While competitor's mags were still debating "why Superman's boots were colored wrong on page twenty," Stan and his readers were not afraid to tackle more weighty issues, not afraid of offending or frightening possible new readers and fans away...
7. Once again Stan uses humor to address possibly offending or alienating subjects, coming out as somebody who is for all groups and sides, as long as their pockets are fulla comics purchasing money!
8. Stan makes this silly (and space-filling) letter seem important, addressing it, again, with humor and friendly vibes, even as he segues (again) into hyping the next issue, using hyperbole to talk up contents he (and Jack) haven't even dreamed up yet! And the great thing about this? It wasn't hyperbole-- It was all true!
BONUS! Click below to enlarge the colossal Kirby-drawn cover to this very issue!
|That's right! The previous awe-struck owner of this copy decided to use labeling |
stickers to forever mark the front of the cover with this issue's story title! Thanks!