Letter from 1966 Marvel Comics staffer to fan:
Jack Kirby “plots the story as he draws it”; Marvel’s “whole operation is based on the story instinct” of Stan Lee
Marvel Comics: The Untold Story is out in paperback this week; oh, how I wish I’d come across this amazing letter in time to include mention of it in the book. It’s a February 1966 letter from then-Staff Writer Denny O’Neil to Marvel fan Jay DeNatale, and it includes what’s possibly the earliest insider account of Marvel from someone other than Stan Lee.
The course of events that led to Fantastic Four #1 that presented here are pretty much in keeping with the Stan Lee/company line, but the amount of credit O’Neil gives to Kirby for plotting—right down to the story beats in the margins of the pages—is notable.
Among the other fascinating bits:
• “Mr. Goodman insists that we keep sketches and editorial comments for reference and reprint.”
• “Currently a Captain America pilot film is being shot in an animation process similar to that used by Hanna-Barbara”
• “A producer named Robert Kranz [sic] is interested in the live television rights to several Marvel heroes” [Note: Robert Lawrence and Steve Krantz were both involved in the animated ‘Marvel Super Heroes’ series. Was a deal ever made for live-action series?]
• There’s no mention of the recently departed Steve Ditko.
As if all that weren’t enough, O’Neil included with his latter a Xerox of Jack Kirby’s pencils for Fantastic Four #47. (You can compare this to the inked, colored, and lettered page here.)