Marvel-ous Reporting: Marvel’s Comic Inspired Reports

1 minutes reading time
Published 8 Dec 2023
Reviewed by: Peter Westberg
Updated 7 Feb 2024

Shareholder reports are often considered tedious and dry. However, in the 1990s, Marvel Comics revolutionized this perception by transforming its financial reports into captivating comic books. A pioneering move in an otherwise stiff industry, and definitely something to look closer at whether you’re into Spider-man, The Incredible Hulk, or just licensing revenues and net income.

The Marvel IPO

Marvel experienced great success during the early 1990s, highlighted by the sale of 2.5 million copies of Spider-Man #1. This success paved the way for its IPO in 1991 under the leadership of Ronald Pearlman, raising over $63 million. Being a public company however, means totally different reporting requirements, and Marvel was looking for ways to communicate the Marvel Comics Universe in an engaging way; within a typically dry shareholder report.

Luckily, a man named Gary Fishman reached out with a solution. As a lifelong comic book fan and the founder of an investor and public relations firm on Wall Street, he offered to assist the then Marvel-CEO Bill Bevins in preparing Marvels upcoming quarterly report.

Marvel Quarterly Report
Spider-Man entering the New York Stock Exchange

Transforming Corporate Communication

Fishman, along with Marvel executives including President Terry Stewart and CFO Robert Riscica, brainstormed on how to effectively convey the unique Marvel Comics Universe within the conventional format of a shareholder report. The groundbreaking solution they arrived at was to convert the report into a comic book featuring Marvel superheroes. This project was a collaborative effort, with editor Glenn Herdling leading the creative process.

Utilizing the Marvel method, which involves developing the story, then the art, and finally the dialogue, Fishman crafted the Plot and made sure to write the copy in such a way that it compiled with all legal and SEC requirements. Herdling on his end, coordinated with some of Marvel’s best artists to bring the visuals to life.

This completely new way of reporting finally took form as a four-page comic book, with the Marvel characters discussing financial aspects like publishing revenues, gross profit, and revenue mix.

Marvel Annual Report Chart
Marvel Annual Report Chart

World’s First Comics Annual Report?

The next step was the annual report, and it’s safe to say that Marvel really broke new ground. They crafted a 36-page comic book, combining comics-form information introduced by Uatu the Watcher, updating us on licensing revenues, advertising, and more, along with other traditional financial tables and text.

Marvel Annual Report Inside
Marvel Comic In Their Annual Report

This innovative approach quickly became a sensation, and was extensively covered by leading publications such as The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, and Institutional Investor. They were recognized not only for their creativeness but also for their artistic and qualitative design, winning awards from organizations like the International Academy of Communications Arts & Sciences.

Marvel 1991 Annual Report
Marvel’s First Annual Report After IPO

Conclusion

Marvel Comics’ innovative transformation of mundane financial reports into engaging comic books during the 1990s marked a revolutionary moment in corporate communication. By blending the excitement of its comic book universe with the rigors of financial data, Marvel not only made shareholder reports more accessible but also more engaging. This approach, pioneered through a collaboration between Marvel executives and Gary Fishman, resulted in groundbreaking comic-style reports that garnered widespread media attention and acclaim, revolutionizing the way financial information could be presented.


Slides, Transcripts & Reports From 9,000+ Public Companies

Access all first party information such as slide decks, transcripts, and earnings reports from public companies worldwide in one convenient platform.


Slides, Transcripts & Reports From 9,000+ Public Companies

Access all first-party information such as slide decks, transcripts, and earnings reports from public companies worldwide in one convenient platform.