Friday, February 16, 2024

ALL ABOUT ATLAS-SEABOARD COMICS


Moe "Martin" Goodman is best known for creating the Marvel Comics empire, but he got his start publishing pulp magazines in the early 1930's with subjects that covered westerns, detectives, romance and everything in between. He later published a line of paperback books (Lion), and movie, romance, true crime and men's magazines, including FOR MEN ONLY, STAG and the girlie 'zines DEBONAIR and SWANK.

Goodman published his first comic book in 1939 under his Timely Publications imprint called MARVEL TALES (which introduced the first appearances of The Human Torch and Sub-Mariner). From there, Timely became Atlas and Atlas became Marvel. He was Marvel's publisher until he retired in 1972 and handed the reins over to his son, Chip. Chip didn't last long and was was booted from the company with a certain person by the name of Stan Lee taking his spot.

Goodman came out of retirement with the idea to start a brand new comic book company with the intention of competing with the big guns, Marvel and DC. Seaboard Periodicals opened its doors on 24 June 1974 and began publishing comics again under the Atlas imprint. Initially, he hired Warren alumnus Jeff Rovin as editor of the comics and Stan Lee's brother, Larry Lieber as editor for the black and white magazines. Rovin quickly left over differences and the staff was shuffled around to accommodate supervision and schedule.

There is some controversy over why Goodman came out of retirement; some say it was out of revenge for Marvel firing his son and others claim it was merely to make money. It could have been a little of both but there seems to be no verifiable comment by Goodman on his reason.

Despite luring some great talent with high pay rates (Steve Ditko, Wally Wood, Neal Adams, Alex Toth, etc.) Atlas struggled out of the gate, mainly as a result of lousy distribution (do I smell a back-door conspiracy?). Sales also plummeted when readers almost immediately dismissed the titles as weak imitations of Marvel.

After sputtering for a year-and-a-half, Atlas/Seaboard shuttered its doors toward the end of 1975. Time has been kinder to the few comics and magazines that were printed and have thus garnered a better appreciation since they first appeared. The following is from the comic book-sized OVERSTREET'S COMIC BOOK MARKETPLACE #1 (Spring 2001) from Gemstone Publishing. It's a special Atlas/Seaboard issue and includes capsule summaries of each of the titles, as well as a cover gallery of every issue that was published. Included is promotional material on what was going to be a relaunch of the line by Goodman's grandson, Jason, until he found out that the rights to the Atlas name and logo belonged to someone else who wouldn't give it up to them. Boooo!!
















BONUS! "The Boss's Son" from PLAYBOY, February 1970 is purported to be an unfavorable story about Chip Goodman, Martin Goodman's son. I'll let you be the judge, and pardon the less-than-sharp scan.






EXTRA BONUS! The first issue of Atlas/Seaboard's TALES OF EVIL from February 1975, with a cover by Larry Lieber, stories by Russ Jones and art by Jerry Grandenetti and Mike Sekowsky.

NOTE: Ads have been removed from this scan.





















2 comments:

Rip Jagger said...

That's an Atlas-Seaboard bonanza there. Thanks. I'm not sure if I have the Overstreet volume, but I might have to check. As you know I'm spending the year revisiting Atlas-Seaboard over at the Dojo, and this is a great article with good background. Love the Grandenetti artwork.

John said...

Indeed -- looking forward to more about Atlas!