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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Friends of Ol' Marvel

If you are a Marvel Comics collector of the 1960's or 1970's then you know Marvel was always trying to get a lot of fan participation through the form of fan clubs.
The first one was the historic Merry Marvel Marching Society (M.M.M.S) started in 1965.
Later; in 1969 "Marvelmania" debuted, always more of a business than a labour of love for Marvel fans, it never really took off. Only 6 issues of the Marvelmania magazine were published and a lot of the merchandise advertised in the catalogs never came to fruition.

Probably the best thing about Marvelmania were the gorgeous posters. This merchandise and others could only be purchased by members . Now for some reason (availability, lack of interest, high price?) not a lot of them were sold and now some of these are very rare and very expensive.
Check out this link on eBay Steranko Captain America Marvelmania
If you read this more than three months from now, the link will be dead, let me just say The 1970 Steranko Captain America Marvelmania poster went for....$710.00

But probably the most loved and best known Marvel fan club was FOOM. Created by both Stan Lee and Jim Steranko, another talented artist at Marvel, it made its official debut in 1973. Readers already knew what FOOM stood for because it was the title of the popular magazine which had been in circulation for several months. Ads went out declaring that it was the "Ultimate" fan club for just $2.50.
FOOM lasted until the late 70's and was a huge success.
The FOOM magazine was a lot of fun, a fellow collector gave me a few issues a while ago and they are a great reading...Fan participation was very important and Marvel (Steranko and Lee) went all out to convey a spirit of community, of belonging even. I can imagine if you were a kid in the 70's, picking up a few Marvel comics every month, FOOM really made you feel at home.
A four-issue subscription was US$3. An additional dollar bought a club membership I.D. card, six decals, and a poster. Running 22 quarterly issues (Feb. 1973 - Fall 1978) FOOM touched the heart of many a young Marvel fans and a lot of today's creators were FOOM members as a kid and remember it fondly.

FOOM also went the poster way and made available 12 different posters. Classic covers with art by Buscema, Steranko, Colan, Windsor-Smith, Kirby, Romita, Severin & more. Truly a delight to behold.

Now Marvel learned a valuable lesson with the failure of Marvelmania and made sure there were enough posters to go round and that the price was reasonable. But again you had to be a FOOM member to be able to buy them (mail-order only). Now the FOOM merchandise isn't as expensive as the Marvelmania stuff, but prices have been creeping up during the last decade as supplies dwindle. I always wanted the FOOM posters, but I only wanted a full set of all 12 images and I wanted them to be in NM - MINT condition, unused.
A nice bit of trivia is that the full set of FOOM posters can be seen in the later "Mister Glass" gallery scenes of the movie "Unbreakable" starring Bruce Willis and Samuel Jackson.

Last week I managed to find just that and now have them here in my comics room. They look as if they came of the press yesterday rather than 37 years ago and I'm hesitant to flatten them and put them on the wall somewhere. They would make a very nice impact on the comics room...but it also would be like destroying a bit of history...

To be concluded.

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Blogger Lawrence said...

interesting stuff......

6:25 PM  
Blogger chromium said...

Thanks Lawrence, you're a real T.T.B. "(Titanic True Believer – a divinely-inspired “no-prize” winner)

10:57 PM  
Blogger Stewie said...

Do you have any idea of the value of a FOOM poster signed and dated in 73 by Stan Lee and twelve other artists, editors, writers?

1:35 AM  

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