The Folio Society has released a number of high-end editions of classic science fiction and fantasy novels over the years, including books by Ursula K. Le Guin, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick, George R.R. Martin, and more. Now, it’s taking on a new medium: comic books. This September, it’ll release Marvel: The Golden Age, 1939-1949, a compilation of the company’s classic comics.
The book is designed to celebrate the 80th anniversary of Marvel Comics #1. It’s now available for preorder, and it will retail for $225 when it’s released on September 25th. It’ll also come with a 64-page replica of that original comic.
The Folio Society’s books are aimed toward collectors and serious readers: its offerings aren’t paperbacks or hardcovers that you’ll find on the shelves of your local bookstore. They’re volumes that often come with special slipcovers and contain introductions from the authors or their contemporaries, as well as original artwork, all on high-quality paper. I’ve long been impressed with its offerings (and have bought a bunch over the years) because of the effort that’s put in and the art that the publisher includes with each one.
Folio Society editorial director Tom Walker tells The Verge that moving into comics is a “really thrilling new enterprise for us,” but he notes that “it doesn’t feel like virgin territory. Marvel Comics have been one of the great literary influences of the past century, and as I started to explore that world, I found the comic form had inspired so many of my own favorite writers, from Neil Gaiman to Margaret Atwood.”
Walker explains that the Folio Society wanted to anthologize the major Marvel eras, and its “aim was to allow readers to get closer to the Golden Age of Marvel Comics than they’ve ever been.” To assemble the book, the society partnered with Roy Thomas, the writer and editor who succeeded Stan Lee at Marvel Comics. He helped with the selection process for the book, which includes characters like Captain America, The Human Torch, and Namor, The Sub-Mariner.
Walker says that he’s most proud of the reproduction of Marvel Comics #1, which was based on an original copy from 1939 that it was able to track down. “We spent hours perfecting this, choosing the right grade of paper and finding ways to recreate the experience kids would have had picking this up from the newsstand for the first time.” The other comics included in the main volume are reproduced from “first-edition comics both from the Marvel archives and from major private collectors, in order to find the most pristine copies to offset,” Walker says.
The Folio Society says that the volume is the first in an ongoing partnership with Marvel Comics, and the next volume is set to come out sometime in the first half of 2020.