Marvel Comics Library. Silver Surfer. Vol. 1. 1968–1970: all 18 stories in a single book | Photo: Taschen

Imagine a book so big and magical that you could almost use it as a surfboard to ride the entire galaxy.

If that wasn't Taschen's original idea when they decided to compile all Silver Surfer stories from the 1968 series, then it could very well be.

The Silver Surfer is one of the most controversial and popular characters in the Marvel Comics universe and, at some point, was an unlikely addition to the company's roster.

Created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and John Buscema, the first 18 stories (Vol. 1. 1968–1970) have now been collected in a single XXL-sized volume from the Eisner Award-winning Marvel Comics Library.

Every page has been diligently captured in photographs from prints that date back over 50 years, subsequently enhanced through contemporary digital retouching methods to amend the flaws characteristic of the less costly, flawed printing processes of that time, creating a result that mirrors what would emerge from a top-tier printing press of the 1960s.

To recreate the authentic tactile experience of the original comics, a specialized paper blend was uniquely crafted for this collection.

The 706-page limited edition weighs its own history of storytelling, dedicated creative drawing, and superb coloring. Literally, 10.48 pounds (4.75 kilograms).

Marvel Comics Library. Silver Surfer. Vol. 1. 1968–1970: over 700 pages of pure magic | Photo: Taschen

Silver Surfer: A Marvel Cult Superhero

The story behind the invention of the Silver Surfer is full of exquisite details and surprising stories.

From the interpretation of the Galactus story as an allegory of the Vietnam War with the Silver Surfer representing America to the creative tension between writer, drawers, and inkers, everything gets meticulously explained by Douglas Wolk's book intro.

It's even possible that Norrin Radd, the astronomer who morphed into the humanoid alien Silver Surfer, got his trademark stance on the surfboard after his creator, Jack Kirby, saw the original promo poster for the 1964 movie "Ride the Wild Surf."

Let's not forget that Silver Surfer was born in the 1960s, at a time when surfing's popularity and lifestyle were booming across California and conquering mainstream America, fuelled by The Beach Boys and the whole surf music scene.

For those who have never gotten in touch with the Silver Surfer back in the day and for those who were only born in the 21st century, Wolk makes it easy for you.

In the opening pages of "Marvel Comics Library. Silver Surfer. Vol. 1. 1968–1970," the author, critic, and comics connoisseur guides you wonderfully, issue by issue, story by story, so you never miss any detail behind every strip.

You get to know how the Silver Surfer was introduced via The Fantastic Four and gained its own space and success.

The legendary comic superhero disappeared from the shelves in 1968, and with it, the myth surrounding his character, actions, and personality grew bigger.

"The Surfer was one of our biggest successes from the standpoint of reader acceptance," Stan Lee explained in February 1971.

"Truly, we had succeeded in our goal. We had created a comic book for the older reader, for the more literate, more perceptive, more cognizant fan."

"But, in doing so, the Surfer's exploits were too far over the heads of many of our younger readers, and for that reason, we lost a great many sales since no comic magazine can be financially successful unless it sells to young and old alike."

The powerful imagery continued to guest-star in many future comic stories and inspire 1970s music artists.

The legacy and cult status of the Silver Surfer is perhaps easily understood from the moment Pink Floys tried to feature him on the sleeve of the iconic album "The Dark Side of the Moon."

Silver Surfer: the majority of the comics in this volume were shot from the collection of Bob Bretall | Photo: Taschen

The Movie That Never Was

In the 1980s, there was even a plan to create a solo Silver Surfer film.

The ambitious project was spearheaded by Lee Kramer, the executive producer of "Xanadu," who envisioned a movie that would pair grand cosmic visuals with modern music.

He imagined a movie that would not only have a visually striking protagonist in the Silver Surfer but also a soundtrack that could involve a massive ensemble of electric guitars to give it a unique audio identity.

To bring this idea to life, he considered having Paul McCartney, the famed member of The Beatles, compose the music for the film, and McCartney was reportedly interested in the project.

The movie was to be based on a new graphic novel created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby specifically for the adaptation, as Marvel had lost the rights to the Fantastic Four characters at the time.

This graphic novel retold the Silver Surfer's journey to Earth and his subsequent rebellion against his master, Galactus, to protect humanity.

To fit Kramer's personal interests, Stan Lee created a new character, Ardina, a female counterpart to the Silver Surfer, intended to be portrayed by Kramer's then-girlfriend Olivia Newton-John.

The plot would have followed the Surfer and Ardina's defiance against Galactus, resulting in Ardina's death and the Surfer's tragic return to servitude to save Earth.

The role of the Silver Surfer was slated to be played by bodybuilder Frank Zane.

Despite the elaborate planning and the initial steps taken to bring this concept to fruition, the Silver Surfer movie never happened because the financing for the film ultimately fell apart.

The "Marvel Comics Library. Silver Surfer. Vol. 1. 1968–1970" (Taschen, 2023) is available in hardcover (edition of 5,000) and aluminum print cover (edition of 1,000).

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