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These books enabled fans of the old comic books to have access to the stories without having to pay exorbitant prices for the original back issues. It introduced new readers to the work of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and other Marvel creators, and packaged the material in a traditional book format that carried more cachet than the flimsy pamphlet style of a typical comic book. Many of the books featured painted covers illustrated by such artists as Bob Larkin,John Romita Sr., and Earl Norem. In this way, the series was an antecedent to the now common practice of packaging "classic" stories into archival editions and trade paperback collections including Marvel's 1998 book Grandson of Origins of Marvel Comics.
The Silver Surfer (1978), the only Marvel Fireside edition featuring original material. Cover art by Earl Norem.
Marvel Publisher Stan Lee came up with the idea of compiling the origins of some of their most popular characters in a book format similar to Jules Feiffer's 1965 book The Great Comic Book Heroes. Teaming up with Fireside, the paperback imprint of Simon & Schuster, Marvel initially produced Origins of Marvel Comics in 1974, featuring the origins of the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Spider-Man, Thor, and Doctor Strange. Like the books to follow, Origins featured a foreword by Lee, and short introductions to each section, which followed the format of presenting the character's origin followed by a contemporary story by current Marvel contributors.
The two Origins books were followed by Bring on the Bad Guys, origins of a selection of Marvel villains; and The Superhero Women, featuring some of Marvel's most popular female superheroes. Eventually, the series moved away from origin stories and published collections of classic stories with individual characters such as Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Captain America, and Doctor Strange.
One of the Marvel Fireside Books superhero story editions was not a reprint but an original story. The Silver Surfer (1978) by Stan Lee, with art by Kirby and Joe Sinnott, was a new take on the late 1960s icon; and is considered by many to be one of the first true "graphic novels".
In conjunction with their reprint collections, Marvel and Fireside also produced a number of activity and game books by Owen McCarron, how-to books, and even a cookbook, again all featuring Marvel characters. The most well-known and popular book of this kind was 1978's How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way, which is still in print.
Marvel/Fireside published 24 different books, many with multiple printings in both hardcover and paperback.
Bring on the Bad Guys: Origins of the Marvel Comics Villains collects Fantastic Four #5, Fantastic Four Annual #2, Strange Tales #126-127, Journey into Mystery #112-113, and 115, Tales of Suspense #66-68, The Amazing Spider-Man #40, Tales to Astonish #90-91, and The Silver Surfer #3, 253 pages, October 1976, ISBN978-0671223557
The Incredible Hulk collects The Incredible Hulk #3, Fantastic Four #12, The Avengers #3, Tales to Astonish #60-74 and #88, 253 pages, July 1978, ISBN978-0671242244
Marvel's Greatest Superhero Battles collects Fantastic Four #25-26, Daredevil #7, X-Men #3, The Silver Surfer #4, Tales of Suspense#79-80, Tales to Astonish #82, Strange Tales #139-141, and The Amazing Spider-Man #69, 253 pages, November 1978, ISBN978-0671243913
The Amazing Spider-Man collects The Amazing Spider-Man #42-43, 82, and 96-98, 128 pages, May 1979, ISBN978-0671248130
The Fantastic Four collects Fantastic Four #4, 48-50, and 87, 128 pages, September 1979, ISBN978-0671248123
Doctor Strange Master of the Mystic Arts collects Strange Tales #111, 116, 119-120, 123, 131-133, The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #2, and Marvel Premiere #3, 132 pages, October 1979, ISBN9780671248147
Captain America Sentinel of Liberty collects Captain America Comics #3, Tales of Suspense #59, 63, 79-81, The Avengers #4, and Captain America #110 and 122, 128 pages, October 1979, ISBN978-0671252328
^Saffel, Steve (2007). "A Novel Approach". Spider-Man the Icon: The Life and Times of a Pop Culture Phenomenon. London, United Kingdom: Titan Books. p. 98. ISBN978-1-84576-324-4. It was Simon and Shuster's trade division Fireside Books that published some of the most influential comic book collections of all time, beginning with Stan Lee's Origins of Marvel Comics, released in 1974.
^Fredt, Stephan (February 2016). "The Other Marvel Team-Up: Simon & Schuster (Fireside) and Marvel". Back Issue!. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing (86): 61-70.
^Sanderson, Peter; Gilbert, Laura, ed. (2008). "1970s". Marvel Chronicle: A Year by Year History. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 187. ISBN978-0756641238. [In 1978], Simon & Shuster's Fireside Books published a paperback book titled The Silver Surfer by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby...This book was later recognized as Marvel's first true graphic novel.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)