How Stockton, California Joined The Marvel Universe | Visit Stockton

How Stockton, California Joined The Marvel Universe

What do you get when you mix a local radio personality, a legendary comic book publisher, and a popular comic book superhero team? You get an epic moment that will live forever in comic book history.


"The one great truth about the Fantastic Four -- is that we take care of our own!"

Unlike their counterparts over at DC, the costumed protagonists of Marvel Comics tend to reside in cities that actually exist; many of them residing in the boroughs of New York City. Captain Steve Rogers is from Brooklyn. Peter Parker is from Queens. Matt Murdock, Luke Cage, & Jessica Jones are in and around Hell’s Kitchen. And Tony Stark bounced between The Big Apple and the coastline of Southern California.

However, the Fantastic Four—made up of Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic), Sue Storm (Invisible Woman), Johnny Storm (Human Torch) & Ben Grimm (The Thing)—resided in the fictional “Central City, CA.” Some comic book fans wondered why this supergroup was given a fictional spot instead of an actual city. One of those fans was Joe Field—who would go on to become an unsung superhero of Stockton.

Spirit of '86

The year 1986 would mark the 25th anniversary of Marvel Comics. So, in October of ’85, Field—who was working promotions for KJOY-AM Radio—got the idea to petition Marvel to name Stockton the home of the Fantastic Four, giving them a headquarters right here in the Central Valley.

Through the radio, Field’s petition got local media attention, which led to the Stockton City Council joining in and proclaiming Stockton as the home of the Fantastic Four. Then, the news went national when the Los Angeles Times wrote a story about the petition and contacted Marvel Comics Publisher & comic book forefather himself, Stan Lee—and Lee was fully onboard.

With Lee’s backing, there was no way the Marvel crew in New York could say no. On February 26, 1986, Stan “The Man” Lee came to Stockton, stood on the steps of City Hall for a special ceremony, and made it official. The Fantastic Four comic issue #296 would be the first issue to reference Stockton as the foursome’s home.


For Lee, it was a fun visit filled with autograph signings at Al’s Comic Books shop. For Field, it would lead to a heavily comic-influenced future. He would go on to create WonderCon, Northern CA’s largest comic book convention, and open his own store—Flying Colors Comics in Concord, which has been in operation for over 30 years. All this was born from a single goal of adding our beloved “Brick City,” Stockton, to the Marvel Universe.

Side note: In 1960, Stan Lee was ready to give up writing comics, suffering failure after failure. His wife Joan told him to write just one more—one he would really like and give it his all as a final goodbye. That comic… was the Fantastic Four. The rest is history.

If you're looking for more comic-related material in the home of the Fantastic Four, make your way over to the Stockton staple Al's Comic Shop over on the Miracle Mile. There are also JNA Collectibles and Grapevine Comics & Cards in our fair city—perfect for you to dive even further into the multiverse.

Plus, keep an eye out for all news regarding StocktonCon, an event occurring multiple times throughout the year featuring a GINORMOUS abundance of comics, cosplay, wrestling, and all things pop culture in our city.

Looking for more suggestions? You can message us 7 days a week for assistance on shopping, dining, and things to do in and around Stockton.

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