Hey, guys, Professor Bill of Comic Book University (where we are always tuition-free) and I want to talk about the mythical Marvel Bullpen!
Back in the ’60s when Marvel was changing their name from Timely Comics, to Atlas Comics, and finally to Marvel Comics, Stan Lee was the editor-in-chief, working for Martin Goodman, and generally in charge of the day-to-day and he took over the scripting process.
The head artist for the longest time was Jack Kirby. So influential was “King” Kirby, as Stan Lee called him, Stan decided that Jack’s art would represent the overall look of Marvel. Jack made several “overlays” the other artists would copy or trace in order to deliver the look and feel that all the comics were drawn by Kirby.
There were few exceptions to this rule. Gene Colan was excused from copying Kirby as his style was immersive and no one understood motion like Gene. Also, the other artists were able to incorporate extra imagery to denote themselves as the great artists they were. One such example is the magical realms and the “devil horns” hand gestures of Doctor Strange and Spider-Man as drawn by Steve Ditko.
Personalities like Don Heck, Joe Sinnott, and Vince Colletta made their marks by being exceptional inkers, adding the depth and 3-D perspective that made the characters jump off the page at the reader. Heck would even go on to become an artist in his own right by becoming a co-creator of Iron Man on pencils.
Then you have the first two letterers ever given credit for their work, Artie Simek and Sam “Sal” Rosen. These two American calligraphers hand-drew each letter in every narration box, speech and thought bubble, and credits box in the comic. In fact, Artie Simek is the man responsible for nearly every original logo for all the original Marvel superheroes.
Now, starting off this article I’d suggested the Marvel Bullpen was mythical. This was not a randomly chosen word used for flavor. The fact is there was no Bullpen, not as we knew it. Everyone worked from home, much like we do at Nerdarchy (Nerdarchy Bullpen, anyone?) and they mailed or drove in their work.
“Fabulous Flo” Steinberg in 1975
There were only two people who staffed the offices of Marvel at 625 Madison Avenue, NYC, (a false address, they never worked at that building) and that was Stan Lee and Florence Steinberg.
“Fabulous Flo” Steinberg, as she was called by Marvelites everywhere, was classified as Stan’s assistant, but her responsibilities always demanded so much more. She was the public relations officer, writing press releases that were often never acted upon by newspapers and magazines.
She answered all the fan mail, made sure everyone was paid appropriately and on time, and arranged for meetings for Stan, who was often buried in a mountain of paperwork.
That was a lot of time devoted to “Fabulous Flo,” right? Well, there’s a reason. Florence Steinberg just passed away yesterday, Sunday, July 23, 2017.
Editor-publisher Flo Steinberg’s Big Apple Comix, Sept. 1975. [Cover art by Wally Wood]
She’d left Marvel in 1968 and started her own publishing company, Big Apple Comix, where she helped big and small name writers and artists to publish less mainstream comics. She would eventually return to Marvel in the ’90s for a short time as a proofreader.
“Fabulous Flo” was one of the most beloved people who ever worked at Marvel and unlike everyone else who ever worked at Marvel, you couldn’t find a soul to say a negative thing about her.
I write this article wishing to continue that tradition. Flo would reportedly talk to anyone who spoke to her, finding time for everyone she met.
I can’t find a birth date for Flo, but hey, it’s impolite to ask a lady her age anyway, right?
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