Atlas/Seaboard Comics


Atlas/Seaboard Comics

Infobox Defunct Company
company_name = Seaboard Periodicals
company_
fate =
successor =
foundation = June 1974
defunct = 1975
location = Manhattan, New York City
industry = Publishing
key_people = Martin Goodman, Charles Goodman, Larry Lieber, Jeff Rovin
products = Comic Books
num_employees =
parent =
subsid =

Atlas/Seaboard is the term comic-book historians and collectors use to refer to the 1970s line of comics published as Atlas Comics by the American company Seaboard Periodicals, to differentiate from the 1950s' Atlas Comics, a predecessor of Marvel Comics.

The company was located at 717 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, New York City.

History

Company creation

Marvel Comics founder and Magazine Management publisher Martin Goodman left from Marvel in 1972, having sold the company in 1968. He created Seaboard Periodicals in June 1974 to compete in a field then dominated by Marvel and DC Comics. Goodman hired Warren Publishing veteran Jeff Rovin to edit the color comic-book line, and writer-artist Larry Lieber, brother of Marvel editor-in-chief Stan Lee, as editor of Atlas' black-and-white comics magazines. Lieber later became editor of the color comics following Rovin's departure. Steve Mitchell was the comics' production manager, and John Chilly the black-and-white magazines' art director.

As Lieber recalled in a 1999 interview:

Creators'-rights pioneer

Atlas/Seaboard offered some of the highest rates in the industry, plus return of artwork. These relatively luxurious conditions attracted such top names as Neal Adams, Steve Ditko, Russ Heath, John Severin, Alex Toth and Wally Wood, as well as such highly regarded up-and-coming talents as Howard Chaykin and Rich Buckler. More importantly, these benefits helped initiate eventual change in the virtually completely work-for-hire industry, in which artists and writers had no royalties, rights to characters, rights to their artwork and other rights routinely held in similar creative fields, such as book publishing and the music industry.

But when many of the titles emerged toward the end of 1974, most proved derivative and uninspired, according to critics at the time. Wholesale creative changes were implemented, with one observer coining the term "The Third Issue Switch." Chaykin's character the Scorpion, for example, started as a 1930s-style pulp adventurer, then in issue three was changed by a different creative team to a contemporary superhero with no relation to Chaykin's work. In issue four of "The Phoenix", the protagonist tries to kill himself, only to be stopped by aliens who grant him a new costume and powers to become The Protector.

A total of 23 comics titles and five comics magazines were published before the company folded in late 1975. No title lasted more than four issues. Of the characters, Chaykin's Scorpion would inspire his Dominic Fortune at Marvel, and Rich Buckler's Demon Hunter would inspire his "Devil-Slayer" at Marvel.

Chip Goodman

Some reports at the time suggested Goodman was angered that Cadence, the new Marvel owners, had reneged on a promise to keep his son, Charles "Chip" Goodman, as Marvel's editorial director. Marvel and Atlas writer Gary Friedrich recalled: "I never really felt that [Martin] did it for that reason. I think he did it to make money and that he thought with Larry in charge and paying good rates that he could do it. Now, he probably wouldn't have minded if it would have taken a bite out of Marvel's profits, but I don't think it was done out of revenge. I think Martin was too smart for that". [Gary Friedrich interview, "Comic Book Artist" #13 (May 2001): "Groovy Gary & the Marvel Years"] Marvel art director John Romita, however, believed, "Chip was supposed to take his place. But that part of it must not have been on paper, because as soon as Martin was gone, they got rid of Chip. That's why Martin started Atlas Comics. It was pure revenge". [John Romita interview, "Alter Ego" vol. 3, #9 (July 2001): "Fifty Years on the 'A' List", p. 35]

Although Chip Goodman was also in charge of the Seaboard comics, he was a "lightweight" in making decisions about them, according to Rovin. [ [http://twomorrows.com/comicbookartist/articles/16rovin.html Jeff Rovin interview, "Comic Book Artist" #16 (Dec. 2001): "The Rise & Fall of Rovin's Empire"] ] Historian and one-time Marvel editor-in-chief Roy Thomas recalled, "One of the problems was just being Martin Goodman's son. I don't think that Martin respected Chip very much — he put Chip in charge but would treat him with less than benign contempt in front of other people. Martin was a little cruel sometimes". ["Comic Book Artist" #2 (Summer 1998)]

This father-son conflict was fictionalized by a Magazine Management staffer, Ivan Prashker, who wrote a short story with a thinly disguised, unflattering portrait of a character obviously based on Chip Goodman. When this story, "The Boss's Son," was published in "Playboy" (February, 1970), Prashker expected he might be fired because of the story, but that was not the case, as noted by Jon B. Cooke, "What was the publisher's actual reaction to Prashker? The author was rewarded with his own editorship of a magazine as Martin was apparently more impressed that one of his staffers was published in the premier men's magazine than with any insult made to his son". ["Comic Book Artist" #16]

Other publications

Seaboard Periodicals also acquired the men's magazine "Swank", which Chip Goodman continued to publish after the comics line ended.

Quote

Jim Steranko: "Goodman's David and Goliath strategy is insidiously simple and outrageous — possibly even considered dirty tactics by the competition — [and consists of] such [things] as higher page rates, artwork returned to the artist, rights to the creation of an original character, and a certain amount of professional courtesy". ["Mediascene" #11 (Feb. 1975)]

Titles

Comics

* "Barbarians" featuring Ironjaw (1 issue)
* "Blazing Battle Tales" featuring Sgt. Hawk (1 issue)
* "The Brute" (3 issues)
* "The Cougar" (2 issues)
* "Demon Hunter" (1 issue)
* "The Destructor" (4 issues, art by Steve Ditko and Wally Wood,who inked the first two issues)
* "Fright" featuring Son of Dracula (1 issue)
* "Grim Ghost" (3 issues)
* "Hand of the Dragon" (1 issue)
* "Ironjaw" (4 issues)
* "Morlock 2001" (3 issues; #3 retitled "Morlock 2001 and the Midnight Men")
* "Phoenix" (4 issues; last issue retitled "Phoenix...The Protector")
* "Planet of Vampires" (3 issues)
* "Police Action" featuring Lomax and Luke Malone (3 issues)
* "Savage Combat Tales" featuring Sgt. Stryker's Death Squad (3 issues)
* "The Scorpion" (3 issues)
* "Tales of Evil" (3 issues; the Bog Beast in #2, Man-Monster and the Bog Beast in #3)
* "Targitt" (3 issues; #2 retitled as "John Targitt...Man Stalker" on cover)
* "Tiger-Man" (3 issues)
* "Vicki" (4 issues, reprint of Tower Comics' humor title "Tippy Teen")
* "Weird Suspense" featuring the Tarantula (3 issues)
* "Western Action" featuring Kid Cody and Comanche Kid (1 issue)
* "Wulf the Barbarian" (4 issues)

Magazines

* "Devilina" (2 issues)
* "Gothic Romances" (1 issue)
* "Movie Monsters" (4 issues)
* "Thrilling Adventure Stories" (2 issues; Tiger-Man in #1)
* "Weird Tales of the Macabre" (2 issues; the Bog Beast in #2)

Footnotes

References

*"Comic Book Artist" #16 (Dec. 2001): Themed issue, "The Atlas/Seaboard Story"
* [http://www.atlasarchives.com/index.html Atlas Archives]
* [http://www.internationalhero.co.uk/s/seaboard.htm Atlas Comics entry at International Catalog of Superheroes]


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