Category Archives: Marvel/Fireside Books

The Marvel/Fireside Books – Afterword

Fireside logo

Between 1974 and 1979 Fireside Books published 11 collections of reprinted comic book stories starring Marvel Comics characters –now widely considered to be the first trade paperbacks – as well as one of the first Graphic Novels, and both of these new formats would have a far reaching impact on the industry (scroll down to the bottom of this page for links to my individual reviews of those books). However, in summing up the Fireside Books it seems only fair to draw attention to the other 12 collaborations between the two publishers that took place during this time, books that concentrated more on younger readers. Continue reading The Marvel/Fireside Books – Afterword

The Silver Surfer and the rise of the Graphic Novel (1978)

The Silver Surfer- The Ultimate Cosmic Experience cover

The Silver Surfer: The Ultimate Cosmic Experience
by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

Between 1974 and 1979 Fireside Books published collections of reprinted comic book stories starring Marvel Comics characters and featuring introductions and commentaries by author Stan Lee. Widely considered to be the first trade paperbacks they proved such a success that 11 volumes saw print. There was also one more volume published from that series that featured a brand new, feature-length story created specifically to be published in book form in a new format that would have a far reaching impact on the comic book industry. The Silver Surfer: The Ultimate Cosmic Experience, published in 1978, was one of the very first story’s to be published in this new format: the Graphic Novel. Continue reading The Silver Surfer and the rise of the Graphic Novel (1978)

Captain America, Sentinel of Liberty (1979)

Captain America, Sentinel of Liberty cover

Captain America, Sentinel of Liberty by Stan Lee

In the late 1970s Fireside Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, published collections of reprinted comic book stories that are now widely considered to be the first trade paperbacks. The books featured a selection of stories featuring Marvel Comics characters with introductions and commentaries by original story author Stan Lee. These books proved such a success that 11 volumes saw print –  Captain America, Sentinel of Liberty by Stan Lee was the last of these reprint collections and was published in 1979. Continue reading Captain America, Sentinel of Liberty (1979)

Stan Lee presents The Best of Spidey Super Stories (1978)

Best of Spidey Super Stories cover

The Best of Spidey Super Stories

In the mid-Seventies Fireside Books published collections of reprinted comic book stories – beginning with Origins of Marvel Comics by Stan Lee – that are now widely considered to be the first trade paperbacks. The books featured a selection of stories featuring Marvel Comics characters with introductions and commentaries by original story author Stan Lee. These books proved such a success that several more volumes of reprints followed including Stan Lee Presents The Best of Spidey Super Stories published in 1978. Continue reading Stan Lee presents The Best of Spidey Super Stories (1978)

The Incredible Hulk (1978)

The Incredible Hulk front cover

The Incredible Hulk by Stan Lee

In the autumn of 1974 Fireside Books published a softcover collection of reprinted stories featuring characters from Marvel Comics’ popular back catalogue, and today Origins of Marvel Comics by Stan Lee is now widely considered to be the first trade paperback. It was such a success that more volumes of reprinted material followed between 1975 and 1979, including The Incredible Hulk by Stan Lee published in 1978. Continue reading The Incredible Hulk (1978)

Marvel’s Greatest Superhero Battles (1978)

Marvel's Greatest Superhero Battles cover

Marvel’s Greatest Superhero Battles by Stan Lee

In the mid-Seventies Fireside Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, published four collections of reprinted Marvel comic book stories now widely considered to be the first trade paperbacks. The books proved such a success that several more reprint collections followed, including Marvel’s Greatest Superhero Battles by Stan Lee published in 1978. Continue reading Marvel’s Greatest Superhero Battles (1978)

The Amazing Spider-Man (1979)

The Amazing Spider-Man front cover

The Amazing Spider-Man by Stan Lee

In 1974 Fireside Books published the first ever collection of reprinted comic book stories, Origins of Marvel Comics by Stan Lee, now widely considered to be the first trade paperback. The book proved such a success that several more volumes of reprints followed between 1974 and 1979, including The Amazing Spider-Man by Stan Lee. Continue reading The Amazing Spider-Man (1979)

The Fantastic Four (1979)

The Fantastic Four, cover

The Fantastic Four by Stan Lee

In 1974 Fireside Books published a collection of reprinted stories featuring characters from Marvel Comics’ popular back catalogue of stories. Origins of Marvel Comics by Stan Lee, now widely considered to be the first trade paperback, was such a success that three more volumes followed between 1974 and 1977. With these four books began a fruitful collaboration between the two publishers that over the next five years saw the publication of a wide diversity of titles featuring Marvel characters including a second set of reprint books; The Fantastic Four by Stan Lee, published in 1979, is the fifth title of this second wave. Continue reading The Fantastic Four (1979)

Doctor Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts (1979)

Doctor Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts front cover

Doctor Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts by Stan Lee

In the autumn of 1974 Fireside Books published a softcover collection of reprinted stories featuring characters from Marvel Comics’ popular back catalogue. Origins of Marvel Comics by Stan Lee is now widely considered to be the first trade paperback and was such a success that three more volumes followed between 1974 and 1977 – Son of Origins of Marvel Comics, Bring On The Bad Guys and The Superhero Women. With these four books began a fruitful collaboration between the two publishers that over the subsequent five years saw the release of a wide variety of titles including activity books, puzzle books, health and fitness books and even a cookbook. There was also a second set of reprint books that ran to seven volumes; Dr Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts by Stan Lee, published in 1979, is the sixth title of this second wave of titles. Continue reading Doctor Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts (1979)

The Superhero Women (1977)

The Superhero Women, front cover
The Superhero Women by Stan Lee

Published in 1977 The Superhero Women by Stan Lee was the fourth, and last, of the Marvel/Fireside Books Origins collaborations. Sadly it’s also the weakest of the bunch. Although it follows the format established by its predecessors – reprinted ‘origin’ stories of Marvel Comics superheroes and villains prefaced by text introductions by Stan Lee – this volume doesn’t really work. What is clearly meant as a celebration of Marvel’s female heroes instead just highlights the publisher’s lack of strong, independent female characters and reinforces male stereotypes of women in tight-fitting, revealing outfits. Continue reading The Superhero Women (1977)

Bring On The Bad Guys (1976)

Bring On The Bad Guys cover

Bring On The Bad Guys by Stan Lee

The third Marvel/Fireside Books team-up continues the best-selling formula established by the series’ previous entries, Origins of Marvel Comics and Sons of Origins of Marvel Comics, but this time with a twist. In Bring On The Bad Guys by Stan Lee it’s not Marvels Comics’ superheroes who grab the spotlight but rather their nemesis. Continue reading Bring On The Bad Guys (1976)

Son of Origins of Marvel Comics (1975)

Son of Origins of Marvel Comics front cover

Son of Origins of Marvel Comics by Stan Lee

In 1974 Simon & Schuster imprint Fireside Books published Origins of Marvel Comics by Stan Lee, a soft cover book that reprinted the origin stories of five of Marvel Comics’ most popular characters with accompanying text written specifically for the collection by Lee. The book was the first of its kind and is now widely regarded as the first reprint collection, or trade paperback, a format that now dominates the comic book industry. Continue reading Son of Origins of Marvel Comics (1975)

Origins of Marvel Comics (1974) and the birth of the trade paperback

Origins of Marvel Comics 1974

And Marvel said, Let there be The Fantastic Four.
And there was The Fantastic Four.
And Marvel saw The Fantastic Four. And it was good.
Stan Lee, from his introduction

Origins of Marvel Comics by Stan Lee

Browse through any comic shop (if you can find one) and you’ll doubtless notice the proliferation of reprint collections, also commonly known as trade paperbacks. With editions numbering well into the thousands trade paperbacks, or trades, have become an important part of the comic book industry offering readers the chance to read and collect their favourite comic book stories reprinted in tidy, book-shelf friendly volumes. They are so popular that many high street bookshops now stock them – although they tend to be erroneously labelled as graphic novels – helping to introduce the medium to readers who wouldn’t normally frequent comic book shops. Continue reading Origins of Marvel Comics (1974) and the birth of the trade paperback