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Newspaper comic strip
The character was originally created for a syndicated, daily comic strip by writer Stan Lee and artist Dan DeCarlo. Lee had initially submitted samples of a strip about a New York City beat cop, but was told by his editor that it was too "big city-ish" and that he wanted a friendly mailman to better appeal to mainstream America. Willie Lumpkin, which was only published in 1960, drew humor from the people and situations Willie Lumpkin would encounter along his mail delivery route in the small town of "Glenville."
In Marvel Comics
Lee and artist Jack Kirby then introduced their comic book version of Willie Lumpkin in Fantastic Four #11 (February, 1963). The comic book Lumpkin is depicted as significantly older than in the comic strip, though the character's good nature was retained, as were references to his past as a mailman in Glenville, which the comic book located in Nebraska.
In his first comic book appearance, Lumpkin is represented as having befriended the Fantastic Four, to whom he makes regular fan mail deliveries at their Baxter Building headquarters in New York City. He half-jokingly requests to join the team on the grounds that he has the "power" to wiggle his ears. He serves as their mailman for many years, and on occasion falls into the zone of danger that typically surrounds the adventuring heroes. Examples include a story in which he is forced to spend Christmas Eve locked in a closet while the Fantastic Four fight the Super-Skrull, when he helped to save the team from the Mad Thinker, or when he is mind-controlled into accessing Doctor Doom's time machine by a minion of Immortus. An alien Skrull also impersonates him in another story to infiltrate the Fantastic Four's headquarters. Willie Lumpkin also crossed over into Spider-Man comics, where he briefly dates Spider-Man's Aunt May.
Willie Lumpkin appeared in his own solo feature in Marvel Comics Presents #18 (May, 1989). The fan-favorite story was a parody of A Christmas Carol in which Lumpkin is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past, who had intended to haunt cantankerous Spider-Man nemesis J Jonah Jameson but couldn't find his address. The story concludes with the normally amiable postman deciding that he hates Christmas.
Willie has since retired, and his niece Billie has taken his position as the Fantastic Four's mail carrier.
Willie appears in Fantastic Four #543, being interviewed about the FF on the news show 'Lateline'. He talks about how, though the group took on cosmic menaces, they always found time to greet him.
Marvels is a "history" of the world of Marvel super-heroes painted by Alex Ross and which spans from the late 1930s to the 1960s. In one scene, main character Phil Sheldon, a journalist who observes the Marvel characters from a distance (and sometimes close-up), meets his ex-girlfriend in a movie theatre where she introduces him to her date, Bill Lumpkin. With a smile, Lumpkin tells Sheldon that they have met though he states that Sheldon will not remember where, causing the reporter a little embarrassment.
In the Ultimate Marvel Universe, there is a government agent named Lumpkin, who works for the agency that runs the think-tank/school in the Baxter Building. Although his first name is not mentioned, this is an obvious homage. He is in his forties and overweight. He is initially shown recruiting Reed Richards.
Later, Lumpkin and several of his men are entrusted with bringing the Fantastic Four back from a disastrous crash in Las Vegas. They themselves crash into the Baxter Building. It has been taken over by the Mad Thinker, one of the students rejected in favor of Reed. Rejecting orders, the Fantastic Four venture into the building, resulting in Lumpkin and his men deciding to go ahead to clear the way. They are swiftly subdued, leaving the Fantastic Four left to fight the Thinker.
The fifteenth century scientist Diablo reaches through to modern day Earth and kidnaps several people the Fantastic Four cares for, including Willie's boss, Doctor Storm. Along with the Four, he leads a military charge into the past, disguised as a traveling circus. Lumpkin is diguised as a jester. Nevertheless, they are discovered and Willie's men are forced to fight the city guard. Naturally, Lumpkin has his men use non-lethal methods, as there is no telling what might happen if an innocent guardsman is slain. After the defeat of Diablo, fifteenth century magicians, who worked with the Four, send everyone back to a time loop, so they can leave just moments after and literally right behind their past selves.
In the 2005 Fantastic Four film adaptation, Willie Lumpkin was portrayed by his own creator, Stan Lee.