In pictures: the history of Marvel comic books

Since publishing its first issue in 1939, Marvel Comics has given birth to characters including Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America and Iron Man. Now, on its 75th anniversary, a new volume celebrating Marvel’s history has been published by Taschen

© MARVEL/Courtesy TASCHEN

A 700-page volume, 75 Years of Marvel Comics: From the Golden Age to the Silver Screen is packed with nearly 2,000 images, a huge fold-out timeline, and biographies of more than 300 artists, writers, editors, and famous fans who helped shaped Marvel's history.

Here, we bring you some of the highlights (captions provided by Taschen)...

Amazing Fantasy No. 15. Original art, Steve Ditko, 1962. The isolated figure of Peter Parker became a defining image that many young readers connected with. In 2008 the original interior art for this issue — all 24 perfectly preserved pages, with pencil erasures and opaquing fluid still intact — was donated for posterity to the Library of Congress. © MARVEL/Courtesy TASCHEN

 

Martin Goodman, 1941, holding in his hands a proof of Al Avison’s cover to Captain America Comics No. 11. The young publisher, aged 33, seems to be contemplating the future of his comic book line, started just two years earlier. Photo courtesy Jason Goodman/Courtesy TASCHEN

 

The Incredible Hulk, No. 5. Cover; pencils, Jack Kirby; inks, Dick Ayers; January 1963. © MARVEL/Courtesy TASCHEN

 

Captain America, No. 114. Cover rough, original art, and published cover; pencils, inks, and coloring, John Romita; June 1969. These three images show the evolution of the comic book cover, from initial rough to printed book. © MARVEL/Courtesy TASCHEN

 

In Terror's Icy Grip. Photograph, 1954. TIME magazine’s 3 May 1954 issue noted that “of the 80 million comic books sold in the U.S. and Canada every month, about a quarter are what the trade calls ‘horror comics.’ . . . They deserve the title.” Here, a young boy is scared witless reading a copy of the same month’s issue of Menace, No. 11, with its horrific cover by Harry Anderson. Courtesy Ivan Briggs/TASCHEN

 

Tales of Suspense, No. 94. Interior, “If This Be MODOK!”; script, Stan Lee; pencils, Jack Kirby; inks, Joe Sinnott; October 1967. Kirby’s explosive action takes center stage in this panel detail. Starting in 1964, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby revived the the original Captain America character after being frozen on ice since before the end of the Second World War. In addition to his own title, Cap shared the pages of TALES OF SUSPENSE with Iron Man. © MARVEL/Courtesy TASCHEN

 

Mystic, No. 3, July 1951, a classic jaws-of-death cover. Cover detail; pencils, Mike Sekowsky and Carl Burgos; inks, unknown. When the Comics Code slammed down on the industry in 1954, many of the publishers of pre-Code horror/fantasy went scrambling into other genres or out of the business completely. Martin Goodman did the exact opposite. He slightly toned down the content and then proceeded to expand his newsstand presence with the launch of five 'new' titles. © MARVEL/Courtesy TASCHEN

 

Bill Everett, 1939. A freelance artist for Centaur Comics, where he co-created Amazing Man, Everett joined art director Lloyd Jacquet when he defected to start his own comics packaging company, Funnies, Inc. Later that year, the Sub-Mariner was born. Courtesy Wendy Everett/Courtesy TASCHEN

 

Tales of Suspense, No. 48. Interior, “The Mysterious Mr. Doll!”; script, Stan Lee; pencils, Steve Ditko; inks, Dick Ayers; December 1963. Steve Ditko redesigns the bulky Iron Man armor, making Tony Stark’s alter ego a sleek product of the jet age. It was Ditko who opened the door to showing the character’s emotion through his mask with the inclusion of wider, transparent eyeholes. © MARVEL/Courtesy TASCHEN

 

75 Years of Marvel Comics: From the Golden Age to the Silver Screen, by Roy Thomas and Josh Baker, is now on sale. To find out more, click here.

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