Stan Lee created many of the original characters for Marvel. You can see a biography of him at Salon.com
Here Lee talks about creating a comic book community:
“With Marvel, what I always tried to do was make it like a club; an inner group that we knew about and that the outside world wasn’t even aware of. If you read Marvel you were on the inside, you were hip, it was sort of an exclusive thing, limited just to Marvel readers. And I tried to talk to the readers, as if they were friends and not readers. Not only, hopefully, they’d enjoy the stories, but they enjoyed being a part of the Marvel mystique you might say.”
Consider that he was doing this forty years ago.