It can no longer be argued that comic books are big business and big influences on American culture. From the success of superhero movies such as Spider-Man, X-Men and Batman Begins, to the popularity of superheroes on television in animated fare for kids like The Batman and more adult programs such as Heroes, it looks like superheroes are here to stay.

To further appease fan demand, Running Press books has released The Marvel Vault, an insider's look at the history of Marvel Comics, from the late 30's until the present.

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From the press release:

Written by two guys with access to the vault of archival jewels, Roy Thomas and Peter Sanderson, it's the collectible of a lifetime featuring everything from early sketches of favorite superheroes like the Sub-Mariner to plastic-encased memorabilia such as the Spider-Man wedding invitation from 1987.

Who are the men behind the book? Roy Thomas went from being a high school teacher to Stan Lee's assistant editor and a scriptwriter for Marvel Comics in 1965, later serving as a writer, editor, and then editor in chief at Marvel until 1980. Having co-written two films, contributed to a number of books, and co-authored one with Stan Lee, Roy truly is an expert on all things Marvel. Co-author Peter Sanderson has penned books, journal articles, and criticism, and has taught courses at New York University, and produced documentaries on comics. He joined the Marvel Comics staff as an assistant editor, later becoming Marvel's first archivist.

Chock-full of historic and never-before-seen memorabilia, with The Marvel Vault comic book fanatics and newcomers to the art will get an insider's view of the comic book industry -- from the writers, artists, editors, colorists, and letterers behind some of the most recognized icons in American pop culture -- to a look at the generations of fans and changes that have affected the production of comics themselves. Legendary Stan Lee said it best: "I've seen a lot of impressive books in my time, but The Marvel Vault takes the cake! I shudder to think of any True Believer being without one."

The Marvel Vault is available now where books are sold.