Wednesday, February 9, 2011
FOOM: Artwork by Steranko, Kirby, Buscema, Colan, Starlin and more!
The Bronze Age Babies blog has a great series every Friday where they cover F.O.O.M., Marvel’s fan club from the 1970s. I thought I would share a few memories of my own. I signed up for this club right after I saw the ad in Marvel’s Bullpen Bulletins page. After a while, I had forgotten about joining—and then I received an giant envelope in the mail—with the Hulk’s green head staring at the viewer! The mailing label was affixed in the white space of the Hulk’s mouth.
I was blown away just by the great design behind even the envelope! I wonder if Steranko, who was behind the first year of the F.O.O.M. club, came up with it. I managed to buy a F.O.O.M. kit a number of years ago and took this scan of it, in a near pristine state.
The FOOM membership kit also arrived with this stunning poster by Steranko. With the Silver Surfer in the forefront, pointing the way for heroes of the Marvel Universe. You have all the big heroes here: Spider-Man, Hulk, Thor, the Thing, etc. But you also have representatives of some smaller teams: Black Bolt from the Inhumans and Angel from the X-Men. Angel is wearing his costume designed by Neal Adams in the last few original issues. If you are wondering why the Black Widow is here, this is probably due to the fact she was sharing space with Daredevil at the time. It is a bit strange that she is the only female super-hero represented. A great poster that I threw away or gave away at some foolish point, but I was lucky enough to get it a few years ago.
The second issue of FOOM had another stunning illustration by Steranko. I had never seen this one before, although I believe it was originally used in the old Marvelmania club—as a poster? Regardless, Steranko’s style in drawing the Hulk is stunning. Karen and Doug cover this issue in depth on BAB here. You can also take a look at Steranko’s Hulk annual #1 cover on my article from 2008.
F.O.O.M. #3 had a very clever cover idea: Spider-Man reading the exact same issue of FOOM. I assume Steranko drew this cover as well, given the inking details? Bronze Age Babies article here for more details.
Jack Kirby and Doctor Doom took over the cover of F.O.O.M. #4. Apparently the club was popular in Latveria! This illustration also originally appeared in Marvelmania?
By 1975, Jim Starlin was a rising star at Marvel, having done the most memorable run on Captain Marvel—so great they have had to leave the character dead for decades! Starlin had started drawing a new Warlock series in Strange Tales about the time this cover for a “Special Cosmic Issue” of FOOM appeared. What is incredible about this cover is that the Silver Surfer is front and center! I heard rumors that the Starlin wanted the Surfer to appear in his Captain Marvel storyline, but the Powers That Be had nixed the idea, as the Surfer’s appearances were extremely limited back then. It was great to see Starlin draw the character finally. We would have to wait about 15 years later, when Starlin finally took over writing the Silver Surfer series in 1990.
FOOM #14 is a great illustration by John Buscema and Tom Palmer, featuring Conan the Barbarian fighting beside his unattainable lust lady, Red Sonja. The only problem with this cover is the blue tones—terrible decision! Still, any cover with my favorite barbarian couple fighting is a good one. This issue celebrates the Marvel Comics world of Robert E. Howard: a long interview with Roy Thomas, a checklist of Conan comics (over 60 issues at this point), Red Sonja article, pin-ups, and more. Conan was a huge smash hit for Marvel back in this era. There were rumors that Conan even saved the company at one point, but I am not sure how true that is.
In 1976, a strange character created by Steve Gerber took Marvel Comics by storm: Howard the Duck! The first two issues were sellouts (although manipulated by speculators) the character caught wildfire in a big way. Gerber had Howard the Duck enter in the 76 Presidential Campaign as a member of the All Night Party. There was a special Howard the Duck button, with an illustration by Berni Wrightson, which I sent away for. FOOM #15 was a Special Election Issue featuring Howard in all his patriotic glory by Gene Colan and Steve Leialoha. Supported by Nick Fury, Jonah Jameson and Ben Grimm? That’s a crossover candidate. Howard would not make it in today’s politics, due to his scandalous relationship with Beverley! Although I would really enjoy seeing Howard on the Bill O’Reilly show.
Finally, here is a scan I took of my FOOM membership card and the FOOM stickers that came in the original Hulk envelope. As the slogan says, E Pluribus Marvel (Latin for: Out of Many, Marvel) – Nuff Said!