James Galton, the former president and CEO of Marvel Entertainment Group, passed away Monday at his home in Naples, Florida. He was 92.
Galton, who spent 16 years at the company, from 1975 to 1991, is often credited as Marvel’s savior. After taking the reins at Marvel in 1975, he pulled the publisher from the brink of bankruptcy and positioned the company for a long period of success.
The former president of a paperback publishing company owned by CBS, Galton brought a host of new ideas that would prove instrumental in turning around Marvel’s fortunes. Chiefly, he cleaned up the distribution issues plaguing the publisher by moving to sell directly to consumers and specialty shops away from the quickly dying newsstand model. It was under his leadership that Marvel acquired the comics rights to 1977’s Star Wars, which proved a boon for the financially struggling publisher.
Galton also had the foresight in 1980 to launch an animation studio in Los Angeles headed by Stan Lee. Although Marvel failed to break into the movie business during Galton’s tenure, it could certainly be argued that his efforts helped to lay the groundwork for Marvel’s later cinematic successes. When Galton left Marvel in 1991, the publisher was the largest comic book company in the world and pulled in an annual profit of more than $70 million.
According to a statement from Galton’s family, “He maintained that comic books were a legitimate form of literary expression that deserved respect and he used the medium to bolster social change like energy conservation, civil and women’s rights, child abuse prevention and universal literacy.”
Galton is survived by his wife of almost 50 years, Lydia; his children Beth, Jean, Maggie and Edward; and his grandchildren Ben, Nora, Claire, Sofia, Katya and Nadia.
(via The Hollywood Reporter)