Membership: Bennett Schwed, various other employees

Purpose: To publish books

Affiliations: Montague Hale, Grant Marshall, Phil Sheldon, Sam Thorne

Enemies: None shown (perhaps rival book publishers?)

Base of Operations: New York City, New York, USA

First Appearance: Marvels I#2 (February, 1994)

History: (Marvels I#2) - Newspaper photographer Phil Sheldon met with Mister Schwed, the publisher from Empire Books to discuss the possibility of a book of photographs taken by Mr. Sheldon. Mister Schwed expressed some interest, but was unsure about the success of a book of just photographs. Just as Mister Schwed said this, the Human Torch flew by the office window and created the Fantasti-Flare above the city. Noticing the amount of people flocking to see the Human Torch, Phil reminded Mister Schwed about how citizens in Chicago, San Diego, or Peoria might react upon seeing his photographs. Mister Schwed agreed and told Phil that Empire Books would contact his agent to discuss the terms of the book's publishing. Mister Schwed then asked Phil who should write the text in the book and Phil replied that he thought he should write it. Schwed told Phil that if he could bring back a chapter sample that it was a done deal and Phil left the Empire Books office a happy man.

(Marvels I#4 - BTS) - Empire Books published Phil Sheldon's book entitled Marvels.

(Marvels I#4) - Mister Schwed appeared with Phil at a book signing to celebrate the publishing of Marvels. Schwed was amazed at the book's success and started talking with Phil about a sequel. Days later, Mister Schwed phoned Phil and informed him that the sequel had been set up, which he suggested should be about super-villains instead of heroes this time.

(Marvels: Eye of Camera I#2 (fb) – BTS) – Empire Books published the books Life on the Gridiron by Sam Thorne, The Making of Star Kings by Grant Marshall, and Fangs: A Confession of Hate by Montague Hale.

(Marvels: Eye of the Camera I#2 (fb) – BTS) – Bennett Schwed phoned Phil Sheldon several times.

(Marvels: Eye of the Camera I#2) – Phil Sheldon decided to visit the Empire Books office to see if Schwed was in the office. Since he was, Schwed set down with Phil, explaining that while he was hesistant about the success of Marvels, he was more than prepared to give Sheldon a much higher advance for a follow-up book. When Phil seemed lost in thought, Mr. Schwed placed several photos on the table, once again explaining that perhaps Phil could do an all-villains photo book and suggested that the title could be “Menaces: The Dark Side of the Marvels.” Phil Sheldon seemed hesistant to do a book on criminals but Schwed reminded him that, coupled with Marvels, the two books could be Phil’s legacy, not knowing that Phil actually had lung cancer. Claiming he would think about it, Phil left the meeting.

(Marvels: Eye of the Camera I#4 (fb) – BTS) – Empire Books published Rise to Power: The Rupert Dockery Story, a biography of the newspaper magnate.

(Marvels: Eye of the Camera I#4 (fb) – BTS) – Learning Phil Sheldon had lung cancer, Bennett Schwed sent his family a fruit basket on behalf of Empire Books.

(Marvels: Eye of the Camera I#4) – Bennett Schwed phoned Phil Sheldon from his Empire Books office and asked if Phil had received the fruit basket he had sent. Phil thanked him for the basket and interrupted to say that he no longer thought the time was right for a follow-up to Marvels, offering to pay back Schwed’s advance. Schwed pronounced Phil’s claims as nonsense and explained that Marvels was the hottest thing Empire Books had published in a decade and that the paperback version was selling even better than the original hardcover. He then tried to convince Phil that the sequel would be gold. Reminding Phil that the sequel could make his legacy, he made Phil promise that he would at least continue to think about it.

(Marvels: Eye of the Camera I#6) – Following Phil Sheldon’s death from cancer, Bennett Schwed went to Phil’s funeral, where Phil’s daughters announced that they would finish the book for Empire Books. Somewhat skeptical but appreciative of their dedication, Bennett was then met by Phil’s former assistant Marcia Hardesty, who offered to provide any guidance they needed to finish the book.

Comments: Created by Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross.

The publication dates of the various books published by Empire Books in the Marvel Universe were not specified so I placed them in the company’s history section in the order in which they appeared or were mentioned on-panel. It’s very possible the books were published much earlier on Earth-616 and Bennett Schwed just had the book covers posted on his wall to celebrate the books’ publishing.

Bennett Schwed’s first name was first revealed in Marvels: Eye of the Camera#2.

Profile by Proto-Man


Empire Books has no known connection to


Bennett Schwed was the publisher for the Empire Books publishing company. Phil Sheldon came to him to present the idea of making a book of photographs about super-heroes. Schwed at first didn't think the idea would sell but after seeing the Human Torch outside his building, he changed his mind. Once the book was published, Schwed attended a signing with Phil to promote the book and profits were so good, Schwed immediately began thinking of an idea for a sequel. Soon after, Schwed phoned Phil to ask him about doing a book about super-villains. Continuing to phone Sheldon eventually prompted Sheldon to come visit Schwed in his office at Empire Books. There, Bennett laid out photos of villains and once again tried to convince Phil Sheldon to do an all-villains book, claiming it could be Sheldon’s legacy. When Schwed later phoned Phil and Sheldon explained that he didn’t think the time was right for a sequel, Schwed pronounced Sheldon’s claims as nonsense and made Phil promise to keep thinking about it. After Phil finally died of cancer, Bennett came to the funeral and admitted that he felt as if he should not have pressured Phil so much to produce another book but Phil’s wife Doris explained that Phil had taken strength from working on the new book. Phil’s daughter Jenny then told Mr. Schwed that she, her sister Bethie, and their mutant friend Maggie would finish Phil’s book for Empire. Thinking it was an admirable task but a large undertaking, Schwed seemed hesistant but Phil’s former assistant Marcia Hardesty announced that she would provide any guidance needed to finish the book. After hearing Marcia’s credentials, Mr. Schwed seemed happy to see that the book would be in good hands.

--Marvels I#2 (4, Marvels: Eye of the Camera I#2, 4, 6,


Marvels I#2, p8, pan5 (Empire Books building)
Marvels I#4, p20, pan5 (Mister Schwed)

Marvels I#4 (April, 1994) - Kurt Busiek (writer), Alex Ross (artist)
Marvels: Eye of the Camera I#2 (February, 2009) – Kurt Busiek, Roger Stern (writers), Jay Anacleto (art), Tom Brevoort (editor)
Marvels: Eye of the Camera I#4 (April, 2009) – Kurt Busiek, Roger Stern (writers), Jay Anacleto (art), Tom Brevoort (editor)
Marvels: Eye of the Camera I#6 (April, 2010) – Kurt Busiek, Roger Stern (writers), Jay Anacleto (art), Tom Brevoort (editor)

Last updated: 10/22/14

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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