Mark Gruenwald is a comic book legend whose origin story begins in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Mark was born on June 18, 1953 and grew up on North Sawyer Street. The Gruenwald home soon became headquarters for many of mark and his friend’s creative endeavors like “the Monster Club”, “the Secret Agent Club”, and “the Fantastic Four Fan Club”. Although Mark wrote comic books for Marvel as an adult, his first published work for them was a fan letter that appeared in Fantastic Four #20. He told Stan Lee about their fan club and suggested more pin-ups to decorate their clubhouse (that issue also included a letter from George R.R. Martin who went on to write Game of Thrones, proving that great minds think alike).
Mark continued creating comics and published his own fanzine, Omniverse, before being hired by Marvel in 1978. Over the next eighteen years, Mark wrote, drew and/or edited many books featuring characters like Quasar, Spider-Woman, the Avengers, Hawkeye, Iron Man, and Captain America, which he wrote for ten years! He was also instrumental in the creation of “the Official Handbook to the Marvel Universe” which is the ultimate guide to Marvel’s characters, including their story history, their first appearances, and lists of their powers. Without Mark, these handbooks wouldn’t exist because there was no one on the planet that knew more about Marvel’s characters and their history than Mark.
Mark eventually became Marvel’s Executive Editor in 1987 and held that position until his untimely death from a heart attack in 1996. Mark’s legacy continues to live on through his work, the characters he created, and now through this comic book creation challenge. Mark proved that even if you’re from a small place, big dreams can come true.
With this challenge we are hoping to inspire the next wave of “Mark Gruenwalds”.