Though there are competing stories about how The Fantastic Four were created, and by who, the general consensus seems to be that in 1961, Jack Kirby and Stan Lee were asked by Marvel Comics publisher Martin Goodman to come up with a superhero team to compete against DC Comics' Justice League of America, which had been selling noticeably well.
Jack Kirby, 1961
These kind of covers are called 'iconic' for a reason. Kirby's combination of Marvel's monster comic books of the early 1960s, along with Stan Lee's revision of superhero team adventure changed comic book history. See cover enlarged.
Stan Lee's story of how The Fantastic Four came to be is that he put together a brief story with a personal challenge to himself to have "... the kind of characters that I could personally relate to."
The synopsis was then given to artist Jack Kirby, who then drew all of the pages without dialogue, but expanded the story with his own ideas. Stan Lee then was given the art pages, where he authored the dialogue and narration. This collaboration style eventually became known as "The Marvel Method."
Jack Kirby's story of how The Fantastic Four were created differs significantly from Stan Lee's story, as Kirby claims he produced the idea of The Fantastic Four as a variation from his work on the 1950s title Challengers of the Unknown (DC Comics) and that he was the original creator of The Thing, Invisible Girl, Johnny Storm and Mister Fantastic.
Most comic book historians have combined these two stories, and usually will say that The Fantastic Four show ideas and elements of both men's work, and that a division of credit is impossible.
Fantastic Four #12 Cover
Mike Allred, Fantastic Four "FF"
Mike Allred art of Medusalith Amaquelin Boltagon from FF #3, March 2013. See the page larger.
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Mike Allred cover - FF #6
Fantastic Four #16 - Return of Doctor Doom & Ant-Man
Fantastic Four reboot news
20th Century Fox has set June 19, 2015 for the launch of it's reboot of the Fantastic Four. Currently, they have Jamie Bell as The Thing, , Michael B Jordan as the Flaming Torch/Johnny Storm, Miles Teller as Mr. Fantastic, Kate Mara as the Invisible Woman. Josh Trank is directing, and Simon Kinberg is writing. Kinberg also worked on X-Men: Days of Future Past.
Fantastic Four #159
Cover art by Rich Buckler, Fantastic Four #159, June 1975
Jack Kirby page from Fantastic Four #1
Page by Kirby with The Thing in action for the first time. View enlarged.
Kupperberg - Fantastic Foursome 1992
A comic book inserted into issues of Spy Magazine in 1992.
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Fantastic Four #274 - John Byrne
Fantastic Four #274, January 1985. Cover by John Byrne and Glynis Wein
Original Page Nov 2014 | Updated January 2017