In the latest Comic Book Legends Revealed, find out how Marvel acquired the full publishing rights to Namor the Sub-Mariner
Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the eight hundred and seventy-fourth installment where we examine three comic book legends and determine whether they are true or false. As usual, there will be three posts, one for each of the three legends. The next FEW installments will be all Namor-centric, in honor of the historic Marvel character making his Marvel Cinematic Universe debut.
Marvel manipulated its contract with Funnies Inc. to get the full publishing rights to Namor.
Appears to be True
Okay, I feel weird with some of these legends, as I have to pretty much just go over the same information, but, well, the same information is important for the sake of the legend, ya know? Okay, so let’s repeat some stuff! In the early days of the Golden Age, a lot of the new comic book companies were created via comic book packaging studios. A comic book packaging studio would write and draw an entire comic book for you. You would own the characters, but they would write and draw them, and you only had to publish the comics and take in the cash. Of course, you had to pay them beforehand. Obviously, then, if you wanted to quickly start up your own comic book company, then hiring a comic book packaging studio was the easiest way to do it by far.
One of the most popular comic book packaging studio was Lloyd Jacquet’s Funnies, Inc., which he built up through a number of freelancers for Centaur Publishing, one of the earliest comic book companies (and one of the few to come around before the comic book packaging system had taken hold. Obviously, National Comics, what is now DC, was the MOST famous comic book company that existed before comic book packaging studios).
HOW DID FUNNIES INC. DEAL WITH COMIC BOOK COMPANIES?
Funnies Inc. was a bit of a different comic book packaging studio because Jacquet was actually interested in getting into publishing himself, he just had more success with selling his books to other companies, while he was NOT having much success publishing books on his own. As noted in a number of recent legends,
Jacquet tried to do a giveaway comic called Motion Picture Funnies Weekly for movie theaters…
That did not work, so they were FORCED to do the comic book packaging, and THAT was doing well, as obviously Marvel Comics #1 went over VERY well.
Jacquet had some of the best creators in the comic book packaging field, like Bill Everett and Carl Burgos, but it is interesting to note that Martin Goodman was also MUCH more involved than a typical client. Goodman personally approved each of the features. He didn’t have any creative input, but he had the say so on what would be included and what wouldn’t be, and he intentionally gave that first issue a nice balance between superhero characters and non-superhero characters (including Ka-Zar, one of Goodman’s own pulp magazine characters, adapted into comics for the first issue). As a result, Marvel Comics #1 is unusually stacked with top notch features. Most anthologies of the period had a good deal of filler material, while Marvel Comics #1 had very few and their leads were so good that, well, we still know Human Torch and Namor to this day, ya know?
Funnies Inc.’s deal with the company was that its client would gain the official publishing rights to the characters in the comics, but Funnies Inc. would also retain an exclusive deal to actually PRODUCE the work.
HOW DID TIMELY GET THE FULL RIGHTS TO NAMOR?
Martin Goodman very quickly did not like the idea of having to share his profits with a middle man like Jacquet, so he very soon planned to, in effect, “steal” Jacquet’s guys from him. One of the first moves that he did was to hire a Funnies Inc. freelancer, Joe Simon, to become Timely Comics’ Editor-in-Chief. He then had Simon both make deals with cheaper comic book packagers like Harry A. Chesler’s studio. He also had Simon contact some of the Funnies Inc. artists directly and hire them directly to create new features.
That was all fine and good for the majority of the comics that Timely was putting out, for the characters created by Funnies Inc., the company still had to deal with Funnies Inc. Again, they had a pretty clear-cut contract, so there wasn’t much Goodman could do at first. So he just had to sort of suck it up and deal with Jacquet on some of the Timely books. Sales were so strong that it wasn’t really that big of a deal. Famously, Goodman took Jacquet and all of the Funnies Inc. staff out to see Bambi in August1942…
However, that was basically the beginning for the end for Goodman and Jacquet. As the great comic book historian, Will Murray, pointed out in TwoMorrows’ Alter Ego #165, Goodman told Simon to make things difficult for Jacquet. Simon recalled, “Well, Goodman wanted me to make it as hard as possible on Jacquet and his staff. He wanted me to send the artwork back for correction as often as possible. Martin didn’t want to pay Jacquet to do what we could for a cheaper rate at Timely. Eventually it was more trouble than it was worth for Jacquet, and he sold his rights to the characters, and Martin took them over.”
Everett also noted, “All I know is that I had a contract with Funnies, through Lloyd. Eventually, Martin decided to publish on his own. As I understand it, he bought up all the contracts that Funnies had left, including mine.”
Jacquet kept up the studio for a few years before folding, and he never forgave Goodman.
Thanks to Will Murray for the great information!
CHECK OUT A MOVIE LEGENDS REVEALED!
In the latest Movie Legends Revealed – Did Orson Welles really die before finishing his lines for Transformers: The Movie?
PART THREE SOON!
Check back soon for part 3 of this installment’s legends!