Former Marvel President and CEO, James Galton, passed away on June 12, 2017, at the age of 92. Galton was best known for saving the famed comic book company from bankruptcy in the 1970s.
James Galton was born and raised in Lawrence, New York. In 1946, he graduated from Antioch College with a business degree. After graduating, Galton worked as an accountant before moving on to an advertising agency followed by a magazine publisher. He later served as the vice president, and briefly the president, at the paperback publisher, Popular Library Books. In 1975, Galton was hired by Cadence Industries to serve as Marvel Comics Group new president. At the time of his hiring, the company was struggling and estimated to be worth about $12 million.
Galton worked tirelessly to clean up the company's distribution woes. Rather than use the newsstand model, he began selling directly to consumers and comic book collectors' shops. He also exposed iconic characters like Spider-Man, Captain America, and Iron Man to international audiences. Under his watch, Marvel was able to acquire the rights to produce Star Wars comic books. In 1980, also under his direction, Marvel launched an animation studio in Los Angeles, with Marvel icon Stan Lee leading the operations.
This studio was responsible for creating several hit Saturday morning animated series including Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends, Transformers, and G.I. Joe. Despite his best efforts, Galton failed to move Marvel into the movie business, at that time. However, when he left in 1991 to pursue other projects, the company was said to be turning an annual profit of more than $70 million. It was also the largest comic company in the world, publishing more than one million copies a year.
Galton strongly believed that comic books were a legitimate form of literary expression that deserved respect. He continually used the medium to advances causes like energy conservation, civil and women’s rights, child abuse prevention and universal literacy. Donations in his name may be made to the Naples Botanical Garden and Literacy Volunteers of Collier County.
Survivors include his wife of almost 50 years, Lydia; his children Beth, Jean, Maggie, and Edward; and his grandchildren Ben, Nora, Claire, Sofia, Katya, and Nadia.