AT MARVEL COMICS in the early ’60s, as the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man exploded into the pop-culture consciousness, the Manhattan publisher had only two full-time office staffers. One you’ve heard of: editor in chief Stan Lee. But the other one was crucial in her own right: Florence Steinberg, who was an assistant and, as a Marvel presence, so much more.
“Flo Steinberg was my first secretary at Marvel/Timely,” Lee told The Post’s Comic Riffs. “I dubbed her ‘Fabulous Flo’ for good reason. Nobody cared more about her job or the people she worked with than Flo.”
“She spoiled me for future secretaries,” Lee continued about the then-recent University of Massachusetts at Amherst graduate. “To most others, it was just a job. To Flo, it was her life’s work.”
Steinberg, who died Sunday at age 78, according to Marvel, has “always been the heart of Marvel and a legend in her own right,” the publisher said in a statement. Indeed, at Marvel, she was an institution.
She had suffered a brain aneurysm and metastatic lung cancer, according to friend Larry Hama, the veteran comics creator.
“Stan Lee once referred to Flo Steinberg as ‘a little sunbeam,’ and that’s what she was, no matter her age,” Tom Brevoort, the longtime Marvel editor, told The Post. “Bright, fiery, luminescent, lighting up a room — and hot to the touch if you got too close.”
Steinberg became known to readers because she replied to fan mail and published letters pages, but she left Marvel in the late ’60s, reportedly over a pay dispute. She started a small indie press, published her independent comic book, “Big Apple Comix,” in 1975 and became a comics-convention fixture.
“She wasn’t particularly a ‘comic book person,’ ” Brevoort said, “but she absolutely was a ‘comic book people person,’ and so it’s no surprise that she orbited the field in a variety of roles for more than 50 years.”
More than a decade ago, Steinberg returned to Marvel, where, until recently, she was still working as a proofreader, Marvel executive Ryan Penagos wrote on Twitter.
“She was a very special part of Marvel,” Brevoort said, “one that cannot be replaced or replicated, only remembered.”
“The whole comic-book industry knew and loved ‘Fabulous Flo,’ ” Lee says, “and her passing is truly a great loss.”
— Dan Slott (@DanSlott) July 23, 2017
Absolutely gutted to hear about the passing of the First Lady of Marvel, Flo Steinberg. A fine person. pic.twitter.com/9QVKkeoLhD
— Tom Brevoort (@TomBrevoort) July 23, 2017
How big was Flo Steinberg in my mind during my earliest days reading Marvel Comics? Bigger than Irving Forbush! R.I.P. Flo. *sniffle* pic.twitter.com/Pvi2RlIucA
— Scott Edelman (@scottedelman) July 23, 2017
My friend, the amazing and, of course, "Fabulous" Flo Steinberg has passed away. She was full of life, fun, snark and just plain intelligence. And I am devastated. She gave me so many amazing physical things over the years — all of which I cherish because they were hers. I literally think of her every day because an original 1939 World's Fair felt banner she gave me hangs in my room and it's one of the last things I see before I head off to Marvel for work. But the one thing she gave me, her friendship, is something so important to me. As the movie poster she's standing next to her states, "I'll never forget you." I just wish I could hear her exiting my office with her standard, "To be continued…" one more time. I love you so much, Flo. (Photo from Wikipedia)