FOOM #11 (1975)

Marvel’s in-house fan magazine was highly beloved by aging boomers and post-boomers like myself. FOOM was like an extension of the Bullpen Bulletins page, where these cool Marvel minions would talk to us readers like we were part of a family of fans, part of a special, cool group because we were smart enough to be fans of the greatest line of comic books in the world.
 
FOOM was an extension of that ethos, presenting fun articles and previews of upcoming comics. Always, the magazine was written with a breathlessly positive style, but one that was positive and fun rather than cloying. The message was that Marvel was a fun place, so wouldn’t you want to come visit it for awhile? I really think that this ethos, as much as the comics themselves, was a big part of why Marvel became so successful in this era. Readers were told repeatedly that they were making a great choice by joining this club; simply by reading the Bullpen Bulletins, you became part of a club with its own unspoken rules and its own in-jokes. What young kid wouldn’t want to be part of something like that?
 
This issue highlights the return of Jack Kirby to Marvel, and it’s clear that this return was a big deal at the time. Of course, the King’s return would be ill-fated at the time – his books didn’t sell as well as anyone hoped, and Jack’s work was hated by many of the Marvel staffers at the time – but here, at least there’s a giant feeling of optimism about Jack at Marvel. We get a wonderful interview wth Kirby, where he expounds on his empowering philosophy: "We already are super-heroes," he says at one point.
 
There’s also a nice little appreciation of Kirby by Alex Boyd, which makes several points that have become the common wisdom about Kirby. My favorite is that Kirby’s lack of attention to anatomy is a big part of what gives his work real power – they seem to be real and elaborate, but it’s all in service to his grand stories. I like that a lot!
 
In Marvel news, this month eatured the debuts of Tigra, Howard the Duck and Black Goliath in their short-lived series. X-Men #97 was released this month, while my man Don McGregor was writing Jungle Action with the Black Panther, Power Man and Amazing Adventures featuring War of the Worlds, while Steve Gerber was writing Defenders, Man-Thing and, of course, the duck.
 
I tend to look back on this era fondly, but I’ve heard more than once that the company almost went out of business before the runaway success of the Star Wars comic in 1977. It’s pretty clear that there was no unifying force between Marvel’s line in ’75, and that the company spent a lot of time trying to find new successes. Of course, ’75 was also when the company successfully tried to kill Atlas/Seaboard Comics, so maybe that effort sowed the seeds of the company’s eventual destruction. I’ll leave that question for smarter people than me to think about.
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