Jim Galton, The Man Who Kept Marvel Comics Alive

Jim Galtons tenure as the president of Marvel Comics got off to an alarming start. He was just settling into his new desk when his predecessorwho had never been informed of his own firingreturned from vacation, walked into the office and demanded, Who are you? A stunned Galton immediately ushered him to lunch at the Players Club to break the news, whereupon the outgoing president clutched his chest and fell to the floor.

Such was the daunting work culture cultivated by Galtons abrasive boss, Sheldon Feinberg, CEO of Marvels parent company, Cadence Industries. From the start, Feinberg made it clear to Galton that Marvels future was uncertain, unless its performance could be turned around in two years.

Within months, the solution serendipitously appeared when Marvel editor Roy Thomas pitched an adaptation of an upcoming science-fiction movie that was in preproduction in Tunisia. Galton hesitantly approved, and it turned out that making a Star Wars comic book was a good decisionin fact, he would later say, it saved the struggling Marvel.

Galton, who died on June 12 at the age of 92, was in charge of Marvel from 1975 to 1990, a stretch in which the company attained corporate respectability, expanded from newsprint to graphic novels, and broke industry sales records. He relentlessly pursued merchandising deals, and steered Marvels first major forays into Hollywood.

When Galton arrived at Marvel, from the paperback publisher Popular Library, he hadnt looked at a comic book since the Captain America adventures of the 1940s, and still regarded them as kids stuff. After he learned that Marvels magazine arm was publishing titles like Stag and Male, he recoiled, and then quickly sold them off, deciding that the corporate proximity to Spidey Super Stories was inappropriate. Well into his tenure, he continued to consider comics a medium that was a few rungs down the ladder, an outlook that sharply contrasted with that of Stan Lee, who often invoked Shakespeare and Picasso. When a Los Angeles Times reporter asked Galton if comics were literature, he replied: I think you have to define literature. Is Judith Krantz literature? Then comics are literature.

Perhaps, as they say in politics, his thinking on the issue evolved. Galton was smart and flexible enough to eventually shepherd the company into an era of higher-quality printing, graphic novels, and placement in bookstore chains. He strove to establish independence from independent newsstand wholesalers, and embraced the so-called direct market, in which dedicated comic shopslargely a domain of adult consumerswould purchase product at a greater discount in return for waiving the option to return unsold inventory.

In the mid-1970s, Marvel licensed several characters for live-action television; Spider-Man, the Hulk, Doctor Strange, and Captain America made it to the air. After Warner Bros. Superman movie became a blockbuster hit in 1978, Marvel began a campaign of full-page ads in Variety, attempting to entice potential licensees (The Man Called Nova is but one of over 100 exciting Marvel characters ready right now) or to farm out its creative powers (Would you like us to create a character for your next motion picture or TV production?)

Eventually, Galton and Stan Leewhod been a vocal, almost solitary booster of the idea that the Marvel Universe was perfect for Hollywoodconvinced its parent company, Cadence Industries, to invest money in launching a Los Angeles animation studio. Galtons instinct, again, was in putting comics where the children wereand in the early 1980s, that meant Saturday morning television. Decades before there was a Lego movie franchise, Marvel was using comic-book storytelling skills to build fictional universes for toy lines like G.I. Joe and the Transformers. But the movies would have to wait. Outside of the 1986 disaster that was Howard the Duck, and low-budget, direct-to-video Captain America and Punisher movies, nothing escaped development hell.

Galton was one of a half-dozen Marvel co-owners from 1983, when Cadence privatized to avoid a takeover from the investor Mario Gabelli, and 1986, when it was sold to New World Pictures. He stayed on as President throughout New Worlds tenure, before retiring in 1990, shortly before Ron Perelmans Andrews Group took the company public.

A few months earlier, Jim Galton claimed one parting victory: the first issue of a new Spider-Man series sold more than two million copies. It was the best-selling comic book in history.

Read more: http://www.thedailybeast.com/jim-galton-the-man-who-kept-marvel-comics-alive

‘Wonder Woman’ whips ‘The Mummy’ at the U.S. box office, but Tom Cruise rules the world

Gal casts a pretty big shadow, Tom.
Image: Mashable composite/warner bros./Universal

Sorry Tom Cruise, but Wonder Woman is just too powerful.

Patty Jenkins’ juggernaut had the best week-over-week hold for a modern superhero film at the domestic box office, dropping only 45% for $57.2 million in its second week and casting a dark shadow over Universal Studios’ attempt at launching its own “cinematic universe” with The Mummy.

But if we’ve learned anything from Tom Cruise over the years, it’s to never count him out.

The Mummy did a sickly $32.2 million in North America for its opening weekend, according to estimates provided by ComScore, but its overseas haul of $141 million is one of Cruise’s best ever. Critics may have hated it and U.S. audiences aren’t fooled by whose name is on the marquee, but around the world, it’s been proven time and again that movie stars still sell tickets.

Universal is launching its monster-mashup “Dark Universe” with The Mummy next up, the still-uncast Bride of Frankenstein in 2019 in an attempt to build what Marvel and DC have for their men (and now women, praise Zeus) in tights. Turns out it’s not that easy to do in reverse: The Mummy couldn’t even beat 1999’s The Mummy ($43.3 million), 2001s The Mummy Returns ($68.1 million), 2002s The Scorpion King ($36 million) or 2008s The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, ($40.5 million) which is even worse if you factor in inflation.

But that global haul for The Mummy should have Universal executives breathing a little easier.

Meanwhile, with weekday returns, Wonder Woman is now at $205 million in North America alone, and its strong hold bodes well for a long, prosperous run over many weeks. Its $57.2 million second frame outright beats the sophomore sessions of both Suicide Squad and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, giving it a real chance to overtake both films by the time it’s played out in theaters.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/06/11/wonder-woman-the-mummy-box-office/

J.K. Rowling’s tweets about the London attacks mix solemnity with snark

Image: AP/REX/Shutterstock – composite by mashable

J.K. Rowling had some choice words to share with her followers in the wake of Saturday’s cowardly terrorist attack on London citizens.

She was tweeting in response to a New York Times post that characterized the United Kingdom as “reeling” in the wake of its second terror attack in two weeks. Saturday’s incident followed a May 22 suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.

The NYT tweet in question links to coverage of the Saturday attacks, noting that they “hit a nation still reeling from the shock of the bombing in Manchester almost 2 weeks ago.”

She even fended off a troll who accused her of being disconnected and out of touch. In response to a derisive tweet that scoffed at her commenting on the news from the safety of a “walled off secure compound,” Rowling issued a corrective.

Then, when the same troll corrected her surname spelling of Superman’s arch-nemesis it’s “Luthor” in the comics Rowling went all-in on the snark.

As usual, she saved her most withering blast for a favored and ever-deserving Twitter punching bag: Donald J. Trump.

Responding to a tweet from 45 that brazenly chastised the mayor of London for trying to rally the spirits of his constituents in the hours after the attack, Rowling issued another snarky corrective.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/06/04/jk-rowling-london-attacks-tweets/