"Sol loved doing Big Boy, Selma (Sol Brodsky's wife) said. "It was simple, it was fun and it was cute. He had a statue of Big Boy that sat on his desk that I'd see every morning when I got up. "That was a big part of our life, Janice (Sol's daughter, Janice Cohen, who would go on to become a colorist), said. "When we took our trip out to California, the big event was to actually go in and eat a Big Boy hamburger!"
(special thanks to Dusty Miller for tracking this information down. It creates a clearer understanding of Brodsky's importance to Marvel and his role as a businessman).
With Brodsky packaging the series, drawing, occasionally writing, and employing Stan Lee, Artie Simek and likely Stan Goldberg to produce the interiors, he orchestrated a lucrative outside job for many years. After learning the information of Brodsky's involvement, I suspect Big Boy was actually an outside project, one Goodman had nothing to do with. If that was the case Brodsky was able to fully profit from the comic (with Lee, Simek and others also making extra money).
So, after all these years I've discovered that alongside the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Hulk, X-Men, Rawhide Kid and all the other titles, Brodsky, Lee and company were also packaging Big Boy stories. It shows how resourceful many creators in that period were.
Adventures of the Big Boy # 14, 1957. Dan DeCarlo art ?; Artie Simek lettering. Packaged by Sol Brodsky for Webs Advertising Corporation. Brodsky produced other giveaways, including industrial comics for Bird's Eye and books with Stan Lee, including Golfer's Anonymous. Mr. Brodsky was not only a decent artist and solid inker, but a smart businessman. I'll be writing more about him in the future.
Adventures of the Big Boy # 26 East Coast Edition
Adventures of the Big Boy # 26 West Coast Edition
Until 1969 two different versions of the Big Boy comic were produced, one for the east coast and another for the west coast. As can be seen above, they are differentiated by a thinner, blond-haired big boy on one cover in contrast to a heavier child. Hair and outfits are also altered. Art on both covers is likely by Dan DeCarlo, with lettering by Artie Simek. Thanks to Robert Thomas for the info.
Brodsky appears to have packaged these stories for the company for around 8 years, from 1957-1964.
After writing this blog I was able to purchase an issue of Adventures of the Big Boy on Ebay. Above is the splash page to issue # 66, dated 1962. "Captured by the Head Hunters!" is signed "Brod", which is the way Sol Brodsky signed some of his Atlas stories. The story is likely written by Stan Lee and lettered by Artie Simek, with possible coloring by Stan Goldberg. There is a total of 8 comic pages; the opening story is 5 pages, along with a 2 page Nugget story (Big Boy's talking dog); followed by a one page Big Boy strip. The back cover has a solo cartoon of Big Boy, with the bottom half advertising the local Big Boy franchises. The remainder of the book includes letters and game pages.
An article on Giveaway comics that appeared in Comics Buyers Guide provided some background information on the series, including a talk with Stan Lee:
Some Timely help. To learn the ropes of comics publishing, Bernhard sought the advice of Martin Goodman, then president of Timely Illustrated Features, precursor to today's Marvel. Production of the first year of the series was farmed out to Timely in 1956, where most of the stories for The Adventures of the Big Boy #1-12 were written by none other than Stan Lee, later the co-creator of Spider-Man, The Hulk and The X-Men for Marvel Comics. Stan and I would go out to his house in Long Island and plan the issue, Bernhard said. He was the writer on the first issue.
Lee recalled working on the series. "I did a lot of them, he said. Manfred was a nice guy. I really considered him a personal friend." Lee said that the project was unusual for Timely, which mostly produced its own comics for sale. "We did a few giveaway comics for political purposes, we did a number of things for charity. But I think Big Boy was the only one we did where it wasn't a Timely-labeled book. We may have done things for General Electric years ago, but as far as I remember our names were in the indicias" he said. I may not have signed my name to the Big Boy work."
Timely artists supplied the art for the series during that year: Bill Everett, creator of The Sub-Mariner, drew the covers and stories for the first two issues, Bernhard said. Sol Brodsky, artist and later Marvel's production director, worked on issues during the middle of the Timely run, around issues #3-6. Lee speculated that such other cartoon-style Timely artists as Dan DeCarlo, Stan Goldberg, or Mike Sekoswky may have worked on later issues of that run; Bernhard recalled DeCarlo having worked on issues between #7 and #12. Unfortunately, complete credits were not included in all issues.
Four decades of artists. Following the auspicious start of Everett, Brodsky, and DeCarlo, Big Boy went through a series of artists, as Bernhard took over production and some of the writing for the series with brother Karl as editor with issue #13.
The compete article can be read here:
I suspect Lee and Manfred have some dates wrong, since the stories were clearly packaged past 1957. Nevertheless, Lee was correct that Marvel did do other giveaway comics, including a political comic.
"Your Future Rests..In Your Hands!", Larry Lieber pencils; Sol Brodsky inks ?; Sam Rosen letters; Stan Goldberg colors ? Dated 1964.
I discovered this comic a few years ago at a convention and immediately bought it, fascinated by the Larry Lieber signature. The indicia reads: "Copyright 1964, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People". Goodman packaged this 16 page comic book (covers were not slick; they were the same quality as the interiors) for the NAACP, encouraging African-Americans to register to vote. This comic was likely distributed in schools and churches. I was able to show this comic to Larry Lieber at a convention appearance and he immediately recalled that he worked on it. I don't recall if he said he wrote the story or Stan did; I would veer towards Lieber, based on techniques he employed in the fantasy stories (see below). Marie Severin likely did some touch-up work on a few pages.
Page 9. Note the word balloon in panel three pointing to the Earth, a device Lieber employed in stories he wrote for artists in Goodman's fantasy line (Strange Tales; Tales of Suspense; Tales to Astonish; Journey into Mystery) and later continued on his own scripted and drawn tales (Tales of the Watcher, fantasy shorts).
This comic is not only an interesting oddity in Marvel's early years, it's also a cultural artifact of the times. I wonder how many other promotional comics are out there waiting to be discovered?