Marvel Comics: Editors-in-Chief,
Wow What a History!

Marvel Comics editor-in-chief oversees and acts upon all large-scale creative decisions that affect the company. I guess the first thing that comes to my mind when I hear editor-in-chief is Perry White from the Daily Planet. Of course this is the fictitious position in the world of Superman, being a rival character to all of Marvel’s creations.

Many may not be interested in the real world mundane issues of writing and editing hierarchy within a publishing company. But I thought it would be interesting to reveal the history at Marvel-Comics. While the fabled Stan Lee held great authority during the decades when publisher Martin Goodman privately held the company, of which the comics division was a relatively small part, his successors have been to greater and lesser extents subject to corporate management.

The top dog editor position evolved sporadically. In the earliest years, the company had a single editor overseeing the entire line of comics. As the company grew, it became increasingly common for individual titles to be overseen separately.

The concept of the writer/editor evolved, stemming from when Lee wrote and managed most of the line's output. Then as Marvel Comics moved into the 1970s a series of chief editors were used to oversee the line. Editor titles though, were used intermittently. Confusing matters further, some appear to have been appointed merely by extending their existing editorial duties. By the time Jim Shooter took the post in 1978, the position of editor-in-chief was clearly defined.

In 1994, Marvel briefly abolished the editor-in-chief position, replacing Tom DeFalco with five "group editors", though each held the title "editor-in-chief" and had some editors underneath them. Marvel-Comics reinstated the overall editor-in-chief position later in the year, installing Bob Harras. This position has been kept, with its responsibilities, within the corporate structure to this day.

Individuals Who Have Occupied
the Editor-in-Chief Position

Although, Stan Lee has always been the most remembered name as a controlling writer/editor, here is a list of those who have held that coveted position over the years. Anybody you recognize here?

  • Joe Simon (1939-1941)
  • Stan Lee (1941-1942)
  • Vincent Fago (acting editor during Stan Lee's military service) (1942-1945)
  • Stan Lee (1945-1972)
  • Roy Thomas (1972-1974)
  • Len Wein (1974-1975)
  • Marv Wolfman (B&W magazines 1974-1975, entire line 1975-1976)
  • Gerry Conway (1976)
  • Archie Goodwin (1976-1978)
  • Jim Shooter (1978-1987)
  • Tom DeFalco (1987-1994)
  • No overall editor-in-chief (1994-1995)
  • Bob Harras (1995-2000)
  • Joe Quesada (2000-)

More for Marvel Comics Fans

To see what Marvel is up to today, you can visit their official site at Marvel Comics.

There also looks to be quite a varied assortment of all things Marvel at Amazon that may tickle your taste buds. Just click on the image at the left. If you have the interest, there may even be some biographies of all or some of Marvel Comics editors-in-chief. Don’t stay too long though, and come back here.

If you want to keep up on the varied and interesting activities going on in the world of comic books, then feel free to sign up for my newsletter “Comics Galore” in the form below. And by all means, I would love to hear your comments and opinions on Marvel Comics. You can sure leave them for me at my contact page in the menu at the left. I may even be able to include them in my newsletter. I thank you ahead of time.

Dave Gieber

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