When Jim Shooter was Editor in Chief at Marvel in 1982, the first Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe (OHotMU) series was launched (cover dates January 1983 - May 1984) under the late Mark Gruenwald who served as the head writer, editor, and designer. He was assisted by Michael Carlin, with technical writing and illustrations by Eliot R. Brown. Peter Sanderson, Mark Lerer, and Tom DeFalco were writers, while Joanne Harras, Fred Baumann, Myra David and Peter David were researchers. Josef Rubinstein was the inker / embellisher. The covers of each issue, designed and penciled by Edward Hannigan, interconnected to show all the characters contained within. The original 15 issue series set the basis for all future Handbooks, providing an encyclopedia of Marvel's most popular characters with history, abilities, and other characteristics described along side a full body graphic of the character. Illustrations of the characters were provided by a variety of Marvel artists of the 1980s including Frank Miller, John Byrne, Walt Simonson, Michael Golden, John Romita Sr. and Jr., Paul Smith, Mick Zeck, Sal Buscema, Dave Cockrum, Bob Wiacek, Bill Sienkiewicz, and many others. The series included two books spotlighting dead and inactive characters, and one book covering weapons, hardware, and paraphernalia.
The Deluxe Edition (OHotMUDE) followed in 1985 (cover dates December 1985 to February 1988), also under Mark Greunwald (writer/producer) and Peter Sanderson (writer/researcher) with by Howard Mackie (assistant editor/consultant), Steve Saffel (writer/researcher), Gregory Wright, Marc McLaurin, David Wohl, Marc Siry, Harry Einstein (editorial assistants), technical illustrations by Eliot R. Brown, and inks by Josek Rubinstein. The cover illustrations, by John Byrne, Ron Frenz, and Keith Pollard also linked together as in the original series. Like its predecessor, it covered characters from A to Z, but expanded in number of characters and details to fill 20 issues, including an alien race appendix in Issue #15 and five books on dead characters. An eight issue update in 1989 followed (OHotMUDEU89). In 1990, the 36 issue Master Edition (OHotMUME) changed the format, publishing each character on a double-sided three-hole punched cardstock page. The face of the card showed the front, side, and rear view of the character, while the back provided the biographical information. Team profiles were included as well.
The head writer for the for the majority of the 2004-2005 revival of the OHotMU, spotlighting specific characters, groups, or themes, and the 2006 All New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe (ANOHotMU) has been Jeff Christiansen, under the editorial direction of Jeff Youngquist, with editorial assistance by Jennifer Grunwald, Mark D Beazley, and Michael Short. Christiansen also founded the unofficial Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe Website.
Other current Handbook writers and researchers to date since the 2004 revival include Chad Anderson, Chris Biggs, Heather Buchanan, Ronald Byrd, Jonathan Couper-Smartt, Wale Ekunsumi, Eric Engelhard, Henrique Ferreira, Mike Fichera, Anthony Flamini, Jason Godin, Richard Green, Michael Hoskin, Bill Lentz, Sean McQuaid, Eric J. Moreels, Mark O'English, Marc-Oliver Frisch, Mike Raicht, Barry Reese, Jacob Rougemont, Gabriel Shechter, Al Sjoerdsma, Bryan Thiessen, Stuart Vandal, and Kerry Wilkinson.Be sure to check out the Official Handbook FAQ, the Official Handbook Data Corrections, the Official Handbook Listings, and the Official Bibliography for the 2006-2007 series. The Power Grid definitions are posted online as well. Fans can also visit the Official Handbook Discussion Forum, "Who Watches The Watchers?", to find out more about the recent Handbooks and related titles as well as chat with the writers! You can also visit us on Facebook!