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  • Writer's pictureKelly Sue DeConnick

March 8th: Flo Steinberg

Celebrating Fabulous Flo Steinberg

Born the daughter of a taxi-driver and a public-stenographer in Boston's Dorchester and Mattapan on March 17, 1939, Florence "Flo" Steinberg began her work in the comic book industry during its Silver Age, and ended it as a icon.

Steinberg, who majored in History at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, moved to New York City in 1963, where Stan Lee hired her as a "gal Friday" at Magazine Management, the publishing company that housed Marvel Comics.

In the early days, Marvel Comics was a lean operation, with Steinberg and Lee as its only staffers, supported by freelance talent. Steinberg's roles were multifaceted—she served as Lee's secretary, coordinated with artists, handled avalanches of fan mail, managed the Merry Marvel Marching Society memberships and even defended the office from overzealous fans. Her warmth and enthusiasm earned her the nickname "Fabulous Flo."

After leaving Marvel, Steinberg's engagement with the underground comix scene (thanks to friendships with figures like Trina Robbins) led Flo to create "Big Apple Comix" in 1975, one of the first examples of an independent publisher bridging the gap between underground comix and mainstream superhero stories. By featuring contributions from mainstream talents alongside underground sensibilities, now-Editor/Publisher Steinberg showcased the potential for a return to a broader range of voices and stories, and paved the way for many independent and alternative comics of today.

Steinberg passed away on July 23, 2017, but her legacy lives on, not just in the memories of those who knew her or the characters she helped bring to life, but in the very fabric of the industry. Her work, coupled with her advocacy and support for other women, helped to slowly transform the industry into a more welcoming space. Today, women play increasingly prominent roles as creators, editors, executives, and fans, thanks in large part to the significant, often unsung contributions of women like Fabulous Flo.

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