What, this old thing?

Don't worry, folks… it's only a 10-sheet capacity shredder.

Fifty years ago on this exact date, the first issue of The Fantastic Four (above) hit the newsstands. If you were around back then (I wasn’t) and had a couple of nickels, you could’ve ended up buying a comic book that became the most important comic in the last half-century.

That’s not an exaggeration. With Fantastic Four #1, writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby ushered in The Marvel Age of Comics, a.k.a. Marvel Comics. You know… Spider-Man, Hulk, Thor, X-Men, Iron Man, Captain America,* Dr. Strange, Avengers, Daredevil, Ghost Rider, Punisher, Howard the Duck and Blade (all of which have also been made into motion pictures, or soon will be). The FF started it all.

* “Captain America? But he was around in the 1940s!” Well, it’s like this — With Fantastic Four #4, Lee and Kirby reintroduced Namor the Sub-Mariner, a WWII-era character published by Timely (the predecessor of Marvel Comics). A few months later, the Fantastic Four had become so popular that the Human Torch earned a solo spin-off in the pages of Strange Tales. And a few months after that, Lee and Kirby brought out of the Timely archives another popular character from the 1940s, Captain America (actually, it turned out to be an imposter) to battle the Torch. Reader reaction was tremendous so the “real” Cap was reintroduced into the Marvel Age of Comics in Avengers #4 (March 1964).

Infographic I created for The San Diego Union-Tribune, 2005. Click it to Giant-Size it!

In early summer of 1978, I was riding bikes with my buddy Scott in Haslett, MI. We each had a buck of spending money and I distinctly recall us wandering into Jim’s Party Store (in Michigan at that time, “party” meant “liquor”). We each bought two comic books and a Faygo soda, which I think ran exactly $1.00. My choices were Fantastic Four #197, Avengers #174 and Grape. Scott chose X-Men #112, Defenders #62 and Old-Fashioned Root Beer.

Fantastic Four was the first comic book I ever bought and I liked it so much, I decided to keep getting it each month. For 33 years. I also liked it enough to get the 196 issues that preceded my first purchase (plus annuals, etc.). Ended that quest in 1997. So yeah, I guess you could say I’m a fan.

One of these days, I should take 'em out of the bathroom magazine bin and put 'em into bags.

I’m certain many others are commemorating this anniversary, too. I won’t even try to compete with their prose. I’ll just say that through thick and thin, I’ll be getting this book each month indefinitely.

Happy birthday, Fantastic Four!

(ps I was going to upload another heart-stopping photo of me eating a raspberry-filled powdered donut while flipping though Fantastic Four #1, but I didn’t want to risk getting the camera all sticky.)

  1. Brian says:

    The FF rock!!

  2. Lonnie says:


  3. ParaLarry says:

    I think I did buy that one – 50 years ago I was eight years old already collecting pop bottles for deposits to buy comics and baseball cards. Of course my mom threw them all out when I went on the road with a rock band.
    Thanks for the cookie!


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