This is the tenth in a series of examinations of comic book urban legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous nine.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: DC dictated the format of Marvel comics for more than a decade.
In the late 1950s, publisher Martin Goodman was expanding Atlas/Marvel’s place in the marketplace. However, they ran into a MAJOR problem in 1957.
They had signed a distribution agreement with American News Company.
However, due to some problems of their own, ANC ceased to distribute comics in Fall 1957!
Suddenly, Marvel was facing a MAJOR problem! They couldn’t publish any comics!
This was, suffice to say, a major blow.
Desperate to get the books back on to the market before too much valuable time had passed, Marvel signed a deal with Independent News, with was a part of the same company as DC Comics!!
Yes, that is right, Marvel was being distributed by the enemy!
Part of the onerous deal was that Marvel could not publish more than eight comics a month (since their comics were all bi-monthlies at the time, this worked out to sixteen titles total, but by the time the superhero boom made the amount of a titles a real problem, Marvel had already finagled themselves to the point where they could have about six monthlies, with about ten comics that they would plug into the schedule at various times).
This became a major problem when they decided to get into superheroes in the early 60s, as they had to slowly phase out their other titles and convert those titles into superhero titles.
Not an easy feat to achieve, certainly.
In addition, this was why Marvel had so many anthologies. They WANTED to have more titles, but they were not ALLOWED to!
The original deal was modified over the years to allow for more titles, and finally, in 1968, Marvel was a big enough sales success (and DC was in a major sales slump) that they were able to negotiate their way out of the deal entirely, allowing themselves to sign with Curtis Distribution.
You may have noticed that 1968 saw the end of Tales of Suspense and Tales of Astonish.
That was because finally, Marvel was completely free to make title decisions fully on their own!
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