James Galton (1924 - 2017)

James Galton, the former president and CEO of the Marvel Entertainment Group whose tenure coincided with some of the most profound generational changes to the comic book industry, died Monday, June 12, 2017, at his home in Naples, Florida. He was 92.

He was born Nov. 1, 1924, in Lawrence, New York. In 1946, he graduated from Antioch College, later obtaining his CPA license. He worked as an auditor at Main & Co. In 1950, he became treasurer of Cortes & Enloe Advertising. In 1954, he held the same position at Popular Library (Pines Publications), becoming president in 1968.

In 1974, he moved to the Marvel Entertainment Group as president and CEO, where he would serve until retiring in 1991. During Galton’s tenure, he and visionary editor-in-chief Jim Shooter between them oversaw numerous landmark developments that helped transform Marvel’s standing as an entertainment company. These included a massive retail sales turnaround circa 1979-1981; the growth of the “direct market” network of comic book specialty shops; the acquisition of comics rights to commercial brands such as “Star Wars,” “Transformers,” and "G.I. Joe”; and the development of a creator compensation plan that gave writers and artists a greater stake in their products’ success.

In August 2009, in the wake of the blockbuster success of Marvel’s “Iron Man” movie, Disney announced a deal to acquire Marvel Comics' parent corporation for $4 billion. “No one could have ever imagined something like ‘Iron Man’ would be so successful,” Galton told the Naples Daily News in 2010. “It wasn’t even one of our more popular books.”

In a statement, Galton's family said, “He maintained that comic books were a legitimate form of literary expression that deserved respect, and he used the medium to bolster social change like energy conservation, civil and women’s rights, child abuse prevention, and universal literacy.”

He is survived by his wife of nearly 50 years, the former Lydia Ryan; his daughters, Beth Galton and her husband, Fred Phelps, of New York City, Jean Galton and her husband, Ron Pellegrino, of Seattle, Maggie Galton and her husband, Andrei Nicolayevsky, of Mexico City; his son, Edward Galton, and his wife, Sarah, of London; and six grandchildren.

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