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When Superheroes Graced Marvel’s Annual Financial Reports

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 21, 2022

front cover of the 1991 Marvel Annual Report featuring several Marvel characters

front cover of the Marvel Quarterly Report for the 3rd quarter of 1991

a pair of interior pages of the 1993 Marvel Annual Report

Starting in 1991 and continuing through 1996, Marvel released their quarterly and annual financial reports to shareholders in the form of comic books. Columbia University librarian Karen Green writes:

Working with editor Glenn Herdling, and using the Marvel Method of story to art to dialogue, Fishman developed the plot, Herdling found some of Marvel’s best artists to pencil, ink, and color, then Fishman wrote the copy (conveying everything the lawyers and SEC demanded), and Herdling put everything together. And so, thirty years ago today, a slim four-page comic debuted, with a cover by legendary artist John Romita Sr. Inside, Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk (sporting, appropriately, an accountant’s green eye shade) discussed net income, publishing revenues, and earnings per share.

The report caused an immediate sensation. No one had seen anything like it. Even more impressive was the subsequent annual report. A 36-page stapled book on glossy paper, it combined information in comics form, introduced by Uatu the Watcher, with updates on licensing, advertising, and more, along with traditional financial tables and text.

If you’re interested, you can score copies of many of these on eBay for under $20.