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How Marvel Comics Captured a Generation of Investors

New communication methods developed by Marvel helped the company expand its investor base and make a splash on Wall Street

The Rise of Marvel ComicsHow a $100 million comic book company captured the interest of investors and revolutionized the investor relations industry through unique storytelling methods and mediums of communication.∼20 years later they would be acquired by Disney $DIS for $4B

Let’s set the scene

Its the early 1990s and Spiderman had just come off a year of 2.5M copies sold and had raised $63M for an IPO in July 1991

Its parent company, Marvel, was looking to make a splash on Wall Street and get potential investors excited about the business

But it had some problems…

The business of Marvel, and the comic book industry as a whole, was not seen by Wall Street as a money makerPrior to the IPO in 1991, Marvel was purchased by billionaire Ron Perelman for $82.5M

That same year the company did $70M in book sales

The company expected to go public, giving it a ∼$220M valuation

Marvel execs even valued the standalone brand of Spider-Man to be worth ∼$1B alone with toy, movie, and other forms of licensingWall Street wasn’t buying it.

Enter Gary Fisherman

Fisherman, a comic book fanatic and a trailblazer in the IR industry, was interested in how the Marvel stock would do and the PR related to it

Fisherman wanted to help, so he called up then-CEO of Marvel, Bill Bevins, to ask what he could do

Marvel Method

In addition to being SEC compliant, the comic book also had to be in guidelines of Marvel’s two-part storytelling method

The Marvel Method, created by the famous Stan Lee, is the process of the storyteller creating the plot and copy for each scene while the illustrator then creates the art separately

The Medium is in the Message

Glenn Herlding, an editor at Marvel, helped Fisherman get the best artists on developing the illustrations while Fisherman created the plot

Consulting with the SEC, lawyers, and Marvel, Fisherman wrote the story of Marvel characters discussing accounting measures including net income, Marvel publishing revenues, and net units sold

The Release

Debuting in Q4 1991, the quarterly report was a hit with the media and investors from the start

The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Financial Times published pieces on the new and innovative ways Marvel was communicating their company’s story to investors

Through the Years

Riding off the success of Q3 1991, Marvel produced over 20+ quarterly and annual reports highlighting the company’s financials and characters by 1996

Fisherman, Herlding, and the rest of the team who worked on the reports won the International Academy of Communications Arts & Sciences, among other organizations

Fast Forward to Today

After a rough turn of the century for Marvel, during the 2000s the franchise began generating growing revenues again

Seven years later they were acquired by the storytelling behemoth, Disney, for $4B

To honor everyone’s hard work on this piece of IR history, we are giving away 5 original copies of Marvel’s quarterly/annual reports


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