Knowledge Waits is a feature where I just share some bit of comic book history that interests me.
If you were a fan of Marvel Comics in the 1970s, then you will undoubtedly be familiar with the peculiar little bit of marketing that Marvel used to do on the bottom of their pages. Comic books had long been using the margins on the bottom of the page to tell readers that the comic book story is continued on the next page, but obviously the margins theoretically could be used for other things.
The first time that I saw the margins used for ad copy was in 1962, when Stan Lee would promote his new titles (the Fantastic Four, the Hulk and Amazing Adult Fantasy) in the margins of his other anthologies. Here, from Strange Tales #98, you can see promos for all three titles...
The ad copy looks like someone just tossed it in there, doesn't it? It must have been Lee, because, well, who else would be doing ad copy for Marvel titles at the time?
This stuff went away for the most part before popping up again in the early 1970s. I asked Roy Thomas about it and he explained to me that Stan Lee asked him to do them. He believes that Stan probably showed him some samples to show him what he wanted. Thomas then wrote a bunch of them before passing the task on to others.
I asked Tony Isabella about it and he recalled that he definitely wrote a lot of them, both on books that he was personally writing and also on other titles. He wasn't sure, though, precisely who else wrote them around this time.
Here are some samples of how they were traditionally done by 1973, one ad on each page, so that it forms sort of one large ad. This is from Avengers #108...
Okay, so we know that Stan Lee wrote them. We know that Roy Thomas wrote them. We know that Tony Isabella wrote them. But did it ever become, like, a permanent gig for any Marvel staffer?
As it turned out, that appeared to be the case around 1974.