Blah Blah Blog – No-Prize

An entry from my long-ago Marvel blog concerning the return of the Marvel No-Prize. I still possess the last remaining supply of the actual printed things.

No Prize!

April 28, 2007 | 1:00 AM | By Tom_Brevoort | In General

The No-Prize. A Marvel tradition.

The No-Prize originated as a joke, back in the early 60s, in Stan Lee’s letters pages. He ran a poll or an essay contest, and indicated that there’d be “No Prize”, since there’d be no winners. But the term stuck in his lexicon, and eventually, at about the same time that the Merry Marvel Marching Society was formed, Stan had a bunch of envelopes printed up like the one in the image beside this page, indicating that the recipient’s No-Prize was enclosed. The envelopes, of course, were empty.

Stan would send these out to whomever he felt was worthy, for “meritorious service to the cause of Marveldom.” Or, sometimes, he’d say he would be sending them out, and then would forget to do so. (He’d also get letters asking for an exchange from kids who didn’t get the joke, and who thought their No-Prize must’ve fallen out of the envelope.) But there was never any rhyme or reason to how he distributed these things–it was just a fun little item.

Years later, Mark Gruenwald decided to regiment the conditions which qualified a person to receive a No-Prize. Mark said that a No-Prize would be given for any letter writer who pointed out a mistake in a Marvel comic, and then explained why it wasn’t actually a mistake. And he printed up a whole new batch of No-Prizes for the occasion.

No-Prize sending was never all that regular–it waxed and waned all through the years–but it pretty much stopped completely when Mark passed (though Stan apparently sent No-Prizes out to those letter writers who asked him a question that got printed in his Soapbox column in the late 90s.)

But now, with the ease of e-mail, sending out a No-Prize, digital style, is as easy as the click of a mouse key. And, like Stan, I think I’ll be sending them out for whatever strikes my fancy, not through any regimented system.

So let the call go forth: No-Prizes are a’waitin’ for the deserving!

More later.

Tom B

5 thoughts on “Blah Blah Blog – No-Prize

  1. It was just last year that a couple of my friends and myself that are all Marvelites here in the UK (since 1972 when the Mighty world of Marvel began reprinted Marvel from the beginning) were trying to remember the 6 ‘awards’ that you could get for various things, and eventually found a page that had them printed with their descriptions. Titanic True Believer was the one that meant you had won a no prize. I can remember as a 9 year old kid wishing I qualified for them all but of course never did. being able to lay claim to any of them still seemed like a badge of honour though. Great days.

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    1. As I recall, writer Mark Evanier was instrumental in coming up with those designations (Fearless Front Facer, Quite ‘Nuff Sayer, etc.), but I’m not sure who came up with the Merry Marvel Pledge:

      “I pledge allegiance to the mags of the Marvel Group, and to the madmen who put them on the stands. One Bullpen, understaffed, indecipherable, with liberty and boo-boos for all.”

      Hang Loose, True Believers, and keep thy webs untangled!

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  2. I received a No Prize once, for gawd-only-knows-what mistake my mid-teenage self had discovered (so, sometime in the late 60s…). I sure wish I knew what became of it…

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  3. I was one of the lucky folks who received a No-Prize from Stan in the mid-1990s, so I can confirm they were given out.

    In 2012, I slid it in front of Stan at a signing session and he paused for a second to look at it.

    Leaning forward, I said, “You gave me that, Stan!”

    He said, “Sonuvagun!” and beamed broadly.

    Arguably my finest moment.

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