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.