RIP: Fabulous Flo Steinberg

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Florence “Fabulous Flo” Steinberg, an iconic member of the original Marvel Bullpen, has passed away, age unknown but truly ageless.

Flo was the sole MArvel staffer besides Stan Lee himself in the early Marvel Comics of the 60s. She can be heard on this immortal Merry Marvel Marching Society record starring Stan, Jack Kirby and Flo in her inimitable Boston/Queens accent.

 

At Marvel, Flo was the true Gal Friday, helping with every aspect of getting books out the door. She left in 1968 but didn’t leave publishing: in 1975 she published Big Apple Comix, an early indie comic that included “mainstream” comics creators doing more personal stories.  As great as Stan and Jack were, they never launched out entirely on their own as publishers, as Flo did.

Flo returned to Marvel in the 90s as a proofreader, where I met her, as did many Marvel staffers of the era and she become an icon all over again. Flo lived near me on MAnhattan’s East Side, and I’d often see her at the Post Office or the grocery store and we’d exchange remarks over the changes in the neighborhood. She was a total sweetheart, but not afraid to be brutally honest about people, either. I asked her if she did interviews about the Marvel days any more but she said she’d done her big interview that covered everything and didn’t want to talk about it any more.
The last time I saw her was a few months ago at a memorial for Jay Lynch and Skip Williamson. After catching up a bit, I noticed Gary Groth, publisher of Fantagraphics standing by and couldn’t resist asking him if he’d ever met the legendary Flo. He smiled and recalled that he’d once written in to the Merry Marvel Marching Society and gotten a reply back from Flo. Seeing comics history living before me has always been the best thing about what I do, and this was no exception.
Flo was a lot more than just the “Gal Friday” at Marvel; as anyone who survived in that world would have to be, she was a feminist who stood up for her own ideas. I’m grieving that we’ve lost her – as everyone who knew her is – but give her the place she deserves. Flo inspired me as a women in comics, and I’ll never forget her kindness, her insights and her one of a kind personality. As much as Stan, Jack and Ditko, Flo was a true original and she’ll never be forgotton.
I love you, Flo.

(Photo courtesy Larry Hama)

13 COMMENTS

  1. Although it may be impolite to ask a woman her age or for that matter reveal it. Flo was born in 1939, she was 78. She collected 1939 New York World Fair memorabilia.

  2. I remember her mainly because in the What-if Issue where the Marvel staffers became the FF she was the Invisible Girl.

  3. “(Gary Groth) smiled and recalled that he’d once written in to the Merry Marvel Marching Society and gotten a reply back from Flo.”

    I still have the postcard with Flo’s reply to a fan letter I wrote to Marvel in the late ’60s. Nice that she would take time to reply to a little kid like I was then.

    Sad to hear this. In some ways she embodied the spirit of the early Bullpen as much as Stan did.

  4. So sorry to hear this. Always wanted to meet her.
    From what I’ve read Flo was indeed Fabulous.
    Another part of my Silver Age childhood now gone.
    Nice tribute, Heidi, well-said… RIP Flo…

  5. Heidi, thank you for this remembrance. It’s beautifully written, and perhaps especially touching to someone (like me) who was a young reader during Flo’s first time around with Marvel. Her name always had as much resonance for me as the more well-known members of the Bullpen.

    I wonder about the “Fabulous Flo” comic at top – where did it come from, and when? Also, do you know what “big interview” she was referring to, and is it available or accessible?

  6. My personal connection with Flo occurred when I worked for Jim Warren’s Warren Publishing Company during the summers when I was going to college from ’73-’76.. I assisted Flo with the running of Captain Company, Warren’s mail order division. We shared a small office. As a huge comics collector back then (I had been hired by Jim Warren through his connection with Phil Seuling, who was my high school English teacher), I was awed to be in the presence of the legendary Fabulous Flo Steinberg! Flo made going to work every day a pleasure. I don’t ever recall seeing her not smiling, although there must have been times when she wasn’t. She was a woman of indefatigable good spirit and kindness, smart as a whip, and she made this part-timer college guy who drifted in and out of the company always feel welcome. Although we fell out of touch after I stopped working at Warren, I remember with great fondness the time I spent in her company. This news saddens me profoundly. R.I.P., Flo.

  7. Owch. Well this will be a tough one, but I’m sure she was ready.
    I guess I’ll see you all at the memorial and we’ll cry it out.

  8. Flo was a wonder. The more I heard about her, the more I wanted to know. And I only read and heard good things about her. She was smart and witty. And the pictures that I could find of her, that incredible smile, if could light up a room. Wow. I would have loved to have met her in her heyday! I am an old guy now, but any guy coulda went for a gal with a smile like that and a perfect personality! I hate that I never met this wonderful woman, i know she was a sweetheart.

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