Where Did The Name 'Timely Comics' Come From?

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Timely Comics was named after a magazine called Timely.



I can't seem to find the e-mail (maybe it was a tweet?), but somebody asked me recently how, exactly, Marvel Comics' original name, Timely Comics, came to be.

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In Sean Howe's excellent book, Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, he noted "The company name that stuck, though, was 'Timely,' taken from Goodman's Timely magazine."

Martin Goodman was famous (infamous?) for his magazines, which were essentially just knock-offs of other popular magazines. Detective magazines popular? Goodman would do detective magazines!

Not only that, but Goodman clearly DID take future naming ideas from his magazines. That was standard practice at the time. If a name worked one place, you might as well try it somewhere else, right?

So Marvel Science Stories certainly influenced Marvel Comics later on...

However, Goodman did not have a magazine named Timely. It would have been far too similar to one of the most famous magazines of the era (and still one of the most popular magazines around), Time Magazine...

No, the origin of "Timely" comes from Goodman's attempt to put out a knock-off of Readers Digest called Popular Digest...

The tagline for the magazine was "Timely Topics Condensed" and so Goodman named the sub-company that published the magazine (Goodman had a series of sub-companies that published his various magazines) Timely Publications.

There was only one other Popular Digest issue...

Timely was then used soon after the first issue of Popular Digest in the launch of Goodman's new comic book business, and so Timely Comics was born with Marvel Comics #1!

If whoever wrote me wants credit, drop me a line!

Thanks to Dr. Michael J. Vassallo for his excellent article on Popular Digest's importance to Timely history!

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