Willie Lumpkin
Willie Lumpkin FF 11.png
Willie Lumpkin demonstrates his ear-wiggling "power" in his debut appearance in Fantastic Four #11 (Feb, 1963). Art by Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers.
Publication information
PublisherMarvel Comics
First appearance(in daily comics): ? (1960), (in comic books): Fantastic Four #11 (February 1963)
Created byStan Lee (writer)
Dan DeCarlo
Jack Kirby (artist)
In-story information
Full nameWilliam Lemuel Lumpkin
Supporting character ofFantastic Four, Spider-Man
AbilitiesAbility to wiggle ears and nose

William Lemuel "Willie" Lumpkin is a fictional supporting character appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character is best known as the mailman of the Fantastic Four in their self-titled comic book.[1]

Willie Lumpkin was portrayed by Stan Lee in the 2005 film Fantastic Four.

Publication history

Newspaper comic strip

Willie Lumpkin in the 1959-61 comic strip. Art by Dan DeCarlo.
Willie Lumpkin in the 1959-61 comic strip. Art by Dan DeCarlo.

The character was originally created for a syndicated daily comic strip by writer Stan Lee and artist Dan DeCarlo.[2] Lee recalled in a 1998 interview that,

Mel Lazarus had done a strip called Miss Peach, which used not panels but one long panel instead. I liked that idea very much, so when Harold Anderson, the head of Publishers Syndicate, asked me to do a strip, I came up with Barney's Beat, which was about a New York City cop and all the characters on his patrol who he'd meet every day and there would be a gag. I did some samples with Dan DeCarlo, and I thought it was wonderful. Harold said it was too "big city-ish" and they're not going to care for it in the small towns because they don't have cops on a beat out there. He wanted something that would appeal to the hinterland, something bucolic. He said, "You know what I want, Stan? I want a mailman! A friendly little mailman in a small town." I don't remember if I came up with the name Lumpkin or he did, but I hated it. I think I came up with the name as a joke and he said, "Yeah, that's it! Good idea!"[3]

Willie Lumpkin drew humor from the people and situations Willie would encounter along his mail delivery route in the small town of Glenville. The daily strip ran from December 1959 to May 6, 1961. A Sunday strip ran through May 28.[4]

Marvel Comics

Lee and artist Jack Kirby then introduced their comic book version of Willie Lumpkin in Fantastic Four #11 (Feb. 1963).[5] The comic book Lumpkin is depicted as significantly older than in the comic strip, though the character's good nature was retained, as were references to his past as a mailman in Glenville, which the comic book placed in Nebraska.[citation needed]

In his first comic book appearance, Lumpkin is represented as having befriended the Fantastic Four, to whom he makes regular fan mail deliveries at their Baxter Building headquarters in New York City. He half-jokingly requests to join the team on the grounds that he has the "power" to wiggle his ears.

Lumpkin appeared in his own solo feature in Marvel Comics Presents #18 (May 1989). In this parody of A Christmas Carol, he is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past, who had intended to haunt cantankerous Spider-Man nemesis J. Jonah Jameson but couldn't find his address. The story concludes with the normally amiable postman deciding he hates Christmas.

Fictional character biography

In Marvel Comics, Willie Lumpkin serves as the postal worker mailman whose Manhattan route includes the joint home and office of the superhero group the Fantastic Four. On occasion he falls into the danger that typically surrounds the adventuring heroes. Examples include a story in which he is forced to spend Christmas Eve locked in a closet while the Fantastic Four fight the Super-Skrull,[volume & issue needed] or when he helped to save the team from the Mad Thinker. This incident involved Reed's trust in Lumpkin; he had hired the mailman to manipulate the machinery as part of a safety routine.[6] Later Lumpkin is mind-controlled into accessing Doctor Doom's time machine by a minion of Immortus.[volume & issue needed] An alien Skrull also impersonates him in another story to infiltrate the Fantastic Four's headquarters.[volume & issue needed]

He also briefly dated Peter Parker's Aunt May.[7] When May briefly appeared to have died, Lumpkin grieved and was seen to befriend a new companion named Doreen Greenwald.[8]

Lumpkin has since retired, and his niece Wilhemina "Billie" Lumpkin has taken his position as the Fantastic Four's mail carrier.[9]

He was interviewed about the Fantastic Four on the news show Lateline,[10] saying how though the group took on cosmic menaces, they always found time to greet him. Sometime later, the super-team, miniaturized, entered his body to remove an otherwise inoperable brain tumor.[11]

Lumpkin was later hired as a biology teacher for the 'Future Foundation', a school founded by the Fantastic Four.[12] Willie enjoyed a trip to the moon when the Future Foundation and associates decided to hold a party.[13] Lumpkin is also hired as a moderator for the FF's online presences. [14]

Other versions

Ultimate Marvel

In the Ultimate Marvel Universe, there is a government agent named Lumpkin, who works for the agency that runs the think-tank/school in the Baxter Building. His first name is not mentioned. He is in his forties and overweight. He is initially shown recruiting Reed Richards.[15] He has expressed a romantic interest in Grimm's mother. Lumpkin and three of his men assist the Four in confronting the Mad Thinker, a former Baxter Building student. The entire group is knocked out by tranquilizing chemicals. Reed saves everyone.[16]

In other media

Television

Film

References

  1. ^ Sanderson, Peter (2007). The Marvel Comics Guide to New York City. New York City: Pocket Books. pp. 42–48. ISBN 978-1-4165-3141-8.
  2. ^ Markstein, Don. "Willie Lumpkin". Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Retrieved 2 April 2020.
  3. ^ "Stan the Man & Roy the Boy: A Conversation Between Stan Lee and Roy Thomas". Comic Book Artist. No. #2. Summer 1998. Retrieved 2013-12-30.
  4. ^ Apeldoorn, Ger (November 11, 2013). "Late Mail". The Fabuleous Fifties.
  5. ^ DeFalco, Tom; Sanderson, Peter; Brevoort, Tom; Teitelbaum, Michael; Wallace, Daniel; Darling, Andrew; Forbeck, Matt; Cowsill, Alan; Bray, Adam (2019). The Marvel Encyclopedia. DK Publishing. p. 219. ISBN 978-1-4654-7890-0.
  6. ^ Fantastic Four #15 (June 1963)
  7. ^ The Amazing Spider-Man #343 (Jan. 1991) at the Grand Comics Database.
  8. ^ Spider-Man Holiday Special, 1995 (1995) at the Grand Comics Database.
  9. ^ Fantastic Four vol. 3, #2 (Feb. 1998) at the Grand Comics Database
  10. ^ Fantastic Four #543 (April 2007) at the Grand Comics Database
  11. ^ Fantastic Four #606 (July 2012) at the Grand Comics Database
  12. ^ FF #5 (2013)
  13. ^ FF #16 (2014)
  14. ^ Fantastic Four vol. 6 (2020)
  15. ^ Ultimate Fantastic Four #1 (Feb. 2004)
  16. ^ Ultimate Fantastic Four #19-20 (July 2005-August 2005)
  17. ^ Coggan, Devan (September 2, 2015). "Stan Lee says Fantastic Four flopped because he didn't have a cameo". Entertainment Weekly.
  18. ^ Berggren, Victoria (July 19, 2017). "From 'X-Men' to 'Spider-Man': 35 of Stan Lee's Most Memorable Cameos". The Hollywood Reporter.