Florence “Flo” Steinberg, Stan Lee’s secretary from 1962 to 1968 and publisher of 1975’s “Big Apple Comix,” died on July 23, 2017 at the age of 78. On Facebook (via Newsarama), her friend Larry Hama reported Steinberg died of complications from lung cancer and a brain aneurysm.
Born in Boston, Steinberg was a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and worked briefly for Ted Kennedy during his first Senate campaign. She moved to New York City, where she became Stan Lee’s secretary. Unlike the freelancers working on the company’s comics, she was the only full-time employee of Marvel Comics other than Lee, and was an integral member of the “bullpen,” as Marvel’s office was then called. She answered fan mail on the letters pages of each issue, and ran the Merry Marvel Marching Society fan club. Nicknamed “Fabulous Flo,” Steinberg was widely described as a warm and welcoming presence on the page and at the office. She, along with Lee, Jack Kirby, and Sol Brodsky, were immortalized in a 1978 issue of “What If?,” titled ‘What if the Marvel Bullpen Had Become the Fantastic Four?”
As the workload increased with Marvel’s rising popularity, Steinberg quit after she was denied a pay rise, and left to become her own publisher. “Big Apple Comix,” an adult-aimed anthology comic she edited, was a seminal independent comic, providing mainstream writers and artists the chance to explore topics normally explored by underground comix creators. She returned to Marvel in the 1990s and, according to Marvel Digital VP Ryan Penagos, she was still proofreading for the company as late as 2017. “Flo was funny and snarky and warm and the best. I only knew her over the last 10 years, but she truly was Fabulous Flo,” Penagos wrote.
Marvel paid tribute to Steinberg, stating:
“We are incredibly saddened to hear of Flo Steinberg’s passing and send our deepest condolences to her friends and family. Flo has always been the heart of Marvel and a legend in her own right. She will be forever missed and always loved by all of us here at Marvel.”
Hama stated she will be interred at the Jewish cemetery in Kerhonkson, New York, and that there are plans for a memorial in September or October.