Martin Goodman was born Moses Goodman on January 18, 1908 in Brooklyn, New York City. His father, Isaac Goodman, was born of Jewish ancestry in 1872 in Vilna, Lithuania, and came to America in 1892. His mother, Anna Gleichenhaus, was born of Jewish ancestry in 1875 in Lithuania, and came to America in 1890. His parents married in NYC in 1895 and had thirteen children, Grace (b.1896), Tessie (b.1897), Julia (b.1899), Rebbecca (b.1901), Lena (b.1903), Sadie (b.1905), Helen (b.1907), Moses (b.1908), Sylvia (b.1909), Abraham (b.1912), David (b.1913), Sidney (b.1915), Aaron (b.1917). Although Moses Goodman had seven older sisters, he was the eldest son in the Goodman family. They lived at 509 Howard Avenue in Brooklyn. The father was a tailor and sewing machine operator at a dress factory.
By 1920 the family had moved to 661 Powell Street in Brooklyn.
During his childhood Moses Goodman was called "Moe," but when he entered public school he was enrolled under the name "Morris Goodman."
In June of 1924 Morris Goodman completed the tenth grade of high school, after which he entered the work force at the age of sixteen. He worked as a file clerk for the newly-formed Eastern Distributing Company, founded the year before by Paul Sampliner and Warren Angel.
Along with handling distribution of magazines, such as Artists & Models, Amazing Stories, Pep!, Snappy Stories, and Screenland Magazine, the company also offered publishers a deal to handle all aspects of production, including editorial services, advertising representatives, printing, paper supplies, binding, warehousing, transportation and foreign sales. Three publishers who agreed to this deal were Frank Armer, Harry Donenfeld, and Hugo Gernsback.
In July of 1926 The New York Times printed a Help Wanted advertisement from Eastern Distributing Corporation, room #502 of 45 West 45th Street for an experienced office worker.
After four years Morris Goodman, at the age of twenty, was promoted to circulation manager at Eastern Distributing Company. Other circulation managers at the company in 1929 were Louis Silberkleit and Irving Manheimer. Morris Goodman hired his younger brother, David Goodman, to work as a file clerk. All five of the Goodman brothers still lived at home with their parents at 1796 St. John's Place in Brooklyn.
In October of 1929 the NYC Stock Market crashed and chaos struck the American banking system, which undermined the national economy. The ensuing hardships of the Great Depression affected workers and farmers, as well as industrialists and bootleggers. The established order of manufacturing collapsed, which devastated the advertising and publishing industries.
One of the few publications that enjoyed profits were pulp magazines, which sold cheap thrills from newsstands to the idle masses for pocket change. The first to recognize this trend were the distributors, including Warren Angel, Paul Sampliner, Irving Manheimer, Louis Silberkleit, and Morris Goodman, who all swiftly moved to cast a wider net.
In February 1930 Eastern Distributing moved from 120 West 42nd Street to the Albano Building at 305 East 46th Street. Along with their usual offer of full-service management to existing publishers, they also offered credit to ambitious entry-level publishers in exchange for partial ownership and the required use of affiliated printers, suppliers, subcontractors and advertising representatives. This deal gave Eastern Distributing majority control and maximum profit.
Three young editors who accepted this deal were Aaron A. Wyn, Ned L. Pines, and Harold Hersey, who later recalled, "Wow! Them was the days! Warren Angel was business manager and co-owner of my company, Magazine Publishers. We produced Flying Aces, Underworld Magazine and twelve other titles, which were sold by the hundreds of thousands of copies every month. After Bernarr Macfadden and William M. Clayton, Warren Angel was the third and most brilliant of all my teachers."
On July 31, 1930 Morris Goodman traveled to the Canadian border at Saint Stephen, New Brunswick, to supervise a shipment of paper from Digby, Nova Scotia.
By the summer of 1930 Warren Angel had left Eastern Distributing to form Kable News Company with Samuel J. Campbell and the Kable Printing Company of Mount Morris, Illinois. Warren Angel sold his shares in Eastern Distributing to Paul Sampliner and dissolved the corporation in October 1930, after which Paul Sampliner continued to run Eastern Distributing as president and majority owner.
In the summer of 1932 Morris Goodman first began to use the name "Martin Goodman," when he left the employment of Eastern Distribution to join with Louis H. Silberkleit to form Mutual Magazine Distributors in partnership.
On September 10, 1932 The New York Times reported a bankruptcy petition had been filed against Eastern Distributing Corporation by the Isaac Goldman Printing Company, Frank G. Menke (a syndicated sports columnist), and New Broad Publishing, which was owned by Theodore Epstein, a business affiliate of Moe L. Annenberg.
On October 9, 1932 The New York Times reported a new incorporated business, Mutual Magazine Distributors, located at 73 Murray Street. The uptown entrance of that building was 60 West Broadway. The downtown entrance to the same building was 93-99 Park Place. Each of these addresses was associated with a different publishing company owned by Louis Silberkleit
Mutual Magazine Distributors followed the same approach to business that had been devised by Paul Sampliner and Warren Angel at Eastern Distributing, to offer operating credit to aspirant magazine publishers. Arthur Bernhard (1913-1999) agreed to start Jalart Publishing House on credit from Mutual Magazine Distributors. Their other major client was George Shade of the Shade Printing Company of Philadelphia. George Shade, and his son John Shade, were business affiliates of Moe L. Annenberg, Theodore Epstein, Harry Donenfeld, Frank Armer, and Paul Sampliner.
At that same time Louis Silberkleit and Martin Goodman also formed Newsstand Publications at 60 Murray Street. The rear entrance to the building was at 53 Park Place. Their first publication was the May 1933 issue of Western Supernovel Magazine. That title was soon renamed Complete Western Book Magazine, which went on to become Martin Goodman's longest running pulp magazine. Many of the early issues featured covers painted by J. W. Scott and interior illustrations drawn by Lorence Bjorklund.
On October 10, 1933 the Steam Ship Pastores left NYC for a month-long "voyage-to-nowhere," a pleasure cruise outside of the 12-mile-limit on the open seas. Two of the passengers listed on the ship's manifest were Martin Goodman, age twenty-six, whose home address was listed as "53 Park Place, NYC," and John Shade, age twenty-three, of Philadelphia. PA.
In 1934 Louis H. Silberkleit left the partnership with Martin Goodman at Newsstand Publications to form Winford Publications with John L. Goldwater and Maurice Coyne. That new company went on to become Blue Ribbon Publications.
On December 30, 1934 Martin Goodman married Jean Davis. She was born April 12, 1914 in NYC of Jewish Roumanian ancestry. She was a college graduate. Her father, Moritz Davis (1882-1955), owned a paper box company, the Atlantic Container Corporation. Her family lived in Manhattan, near Columbia University, at 600 West 115th Street, on Riverside Drive, facing the Hudson River. The newlyweds spent their honeymoon in the Bahamas and then moved to an apartment at 320 Central Park West and 92nd Street. They had three children, Iden (b.1937), Charles (b.1938), and Amy (b.1939).
On May 11 1935 The New York Times reported the schedule of repayment had been filed against Mutual Magazine Distributors and the three top creditors were Trojan Publications, which was owned by Paul Sampliner in partnership with Harry Donenfeld, Clancy Publications, which produced astrology magazines, and Newsstand Publications, which was owned by Martin Goodman. The close affiliation between the company owners and these particular debtors suggests the legal crisis was fabricated to escape financial responsibilities for contracted services.
The NY State Court later assigned five receivers to handle the scheduled repayment of debt, Ernest O. Machlin (V.P. of F. W. Hall Printing and Member of the Board of Directors at Macfadden Publications), James F. Walsh (a printer of publicity photos for The New York Graphic, a newspaper owned by Macfadden Publications), George R. Shade (Owner of Shade Publications of Philadelphia), Frederick H. Hemgen (a salesman at Tab Press, which was owned by Theodore Epstein), and Arthur W. Laing (a sales representative of a novelty manufacturer with mail order advertisements in the back pages of magazines).
In 1935 Martin Goodman formed Red Circle Magazines, which soon produced more than two dozen pulp titles, including All Star Fiction, All Star Adventures, Star Detective, Star Sports, Sports Action, Adventure Trails, Complete Adventures, Complete Western Book, Detective Short Stories, Complete Detective, Complete Sports, Best Sports, Mystery Tales, Top-Notch Western, Top-Notch Detective, Two-Gun Western, Six-Gun Western, Gunsmoke Western, Sky Devils, Western Short Stories, Cowboy Action Novels, Quick-Trigger Western, Modern Love, Wild West Stories & Complete Novel Magazine, Real Sports, Ka-Zar, and Marvel Science Stories, the first cover of which was painted by Norman Saunders.
Martin Goodman also produced large format magazines, such as Amazing Detective Cases, Snap Magazine, National Detective cases, and Complete Detective Cases.
On May 7, 1936 Martin Goodman and his wife traveled on the Steam Ship Manhattan to France, where they enjoyed a vacation in pre-war Paris, where they bought a painting by Henri Matisse (1869-1954)of his daughter from 1916, "Marguerite in the Blue Velvet Hat."
On September 5, 1937 a younger brother of Martin Goodman, Charles (Sidney) Goodman, died at the age of twenty-two.
In 1939 Martin Goodman produced his first comic book, Marvel Comics, under the business name, Timely Publications, at 330 West 42nd Street. The first cover was created by Frank R. Paul. Martin Goodman produced Human Torch Comics, Sub-Mariner Comics, and All Winners Comics, with subcontracted material from the art agency, Funnies Incorporated, at 45 West 45th Street, which was owned by Lloyd Jacquet.
The 1940 U.S. Census listed the parents of Martin Goodman, Isaac and Anna Goodman, as living in Brooklyn at 819 Maple Avenue, with their three youngest sons, Abe Goodman, who was employed as an Office Manager at a publishing company, David Goodman, who was listed as a salesman, and Arthur (Aaron) Goodman, who was listed as an editor at a publishing company.
In 1940 Martin Goodman hired Joe Simon as art director to coordinate the assembly of comic book materials from freelance artists, instead of continuing to subcontract those services from Lloyd Jacquet.
Joe Simon hired the artist Jack Kirby, and together created the popular Captain America Comics, which was soon selling one million copies a month. Joe Simon asked for a percentage of the profits, but after one year he quit. Martin Goodman replaced him with a nephew, Stanley Lieber (Stan Lee). He was the eighteen-year-old son of Jacob Lieber, whose wife, Celia Solomon Lieber, was the sister of Jean Davis Goodman's mother, Ida Solomon Davis.
In 1941 Martin Goodman was charged by the Federal Trade Commission with misrepresenting the contents of his publications. On January 24, 1942 The New York Times reported the Federal Trade Commission had ordered Martin Goodman "not to publish reprints of previously published stories without disclosing the fact that they have been published before."
In 1942 during WWII Martin Goodman was age thirty-four, married and the father of two, so he was not selected for military service.
On May 7, 1942 The New York Times reported Mr & Mrs. Martin Goodman had purchased a prestigious estate on Long Island at 849 Smith Lane in the Hewlett Neck section of Woodmere township in Hempstead County.
In 1945 Martin Goodman Publications moved to 350 Fifth Avenue, the Empire State Building, at 34th Street in NYC.
On February 25, 1945 the mother of Martin Goodman, Anna Goodman, died at the age of seventy-two in Brooklyn.
On October 14, 1946 the Federal Trade Commission again charged Martin Goodman with misrepresenting the originality of the contents of his publications.
On July 12, 1948, the father of Martin Goodman, Isaac Goodman, died at the age of seventy-nine in Brooklyn.
In 1948 Martin Goodman began to produce paperback books under the business name Lion Books.
In 1950 Martin Goodman Publications moved from the Empire State Building to 270 Park Avenue on East 48th Street.
During the 1950s and 1960s Martin Goodman produced digest magazines of crossword puzzles and risqué pin-up joke books, such as Humorama, Breezy, Snappy, and Joker. He also produced Hollywood fan magazines, such as Modern Movies, Screen Stars, and Movie World. He also produced romance magazines, such as Real Romance, Tempo, and Complete Romance, and mens adventure magazines, such as Stag, Male, and For Men Only.
The last pulp Martin Goodman published was Complete Western Book Magazine, dated June 1957.
In 1959 Harvey Kurtzman created his innovative graphic novel, Jungle Book, for Ballantine Books, which included "The Organization Man in the Gray Flannel Executive Suit," a story about a young editor's loss of innocence while working for Schlock Publications, Inc. According to the artist's introduction, the story was inspired by his own years of working for Martin Goodman.
During the 1960s Marvel Comics introduced new super heroes, Spiderman, Thor, Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, and the Fantastic Four. Marvel became the most successful producer of comic books in the world. In the January 16, 1966 issue of Family Magazine, Dave Burgin reported, "Marvel publisher Martin Goodman admitted he is flabbergasted at booming sales, especially among adults. Publishing seventeen titles, Marvel sales now stand at thirty-three million annually, double the figure of three years ago."
According to Stan Lee, "Martin Goodman was pretty much a genius when it came to newsstand publishing. He has a feeling for what the average reader looked for."
Martin Goodman died in Palm Beach, Florida, at the age of eighty-four on June 6, 1992. At the time of his death Marvel Comics published one hundred titles monthly, which sold one hundred million copies annually.
© David Saunders 2016