Jason Goodman, the grandson of Marvel Comics founder Martin Goodman, is re-launching Atlas Comics, the company his grandfather launched in the 1970s to compete with Marvel Comics. According to industry legends Martin Goodman sold Marvel to Cadence Publications in the early 1970s with the understanding that Goodman’s son Chip would stay on as editorial director of Marvel. When Stan Lee, with Cadence’s backing, showed Chip the door, Martin Goodman launched what historians now refer to as Atlas/Seaboard Comics to distinguish it from the 1950s Atlas Comics, which was one of the precursor companies to Marvel Comics. When Goodman sold Marvel, he kept the rights to the Atlas name, and dusted it off in the mid-1970s to compete with Marvel and DC.
Though none of Atlas/Seaboard’s 23 comic and 5 magazine titles lasted more than four issues, the new 21st Century Atlas claims to have the rights to hundreds of characters, which, given the current interest in Hollywood in all things associated with comic books, was apparently enough to spark the revival of Atlas Comics, which will be formally announced at the New York Comic Con.
Actually the “rights” to the Atlas/Seaboard characters could prove to be quite interesting since in order to lure top creators to the new company Goodman had to adopt what were clearly the most labor-friendly policies in the history of the industry including high page rates, the return of original artwork, and granting author’s rights to original character creations. These creator-friendly policies attracted a host of top creators including Neal Adams, Steve Ditko, Russ Heath, Howard Chaykin, John Severin, Wally Wood, and Alex Toth. In spite of the top flight talent the Atlas/Seaboard titles appear to have been hopelessly derivative---Devilina was an obvious Vampirella clone, Blazing Battle Tales with Sgt. Hawk, a typical combat comic, and Wulf the Barbarian was no threat to Conan. In today’s climate in Tinseltown will anybody notice?
According to Deadline Hollywood, Brendan Deneen, a former development executive for Scott Rudin and Harvey Weinstein, who is now an editor at St. Martin’s Press/Macmillan, is “spearheading the relaunch,’ and comics industry veteran, J.M. DeMatteis will be the new company’s EIC.