Origin and Creation
The character of WIllie Lumpkin 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."
Stan 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 being 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 in the comic books was located in Nebraska.
Major Story Arcs
An Unusual Mailman
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 has fallen 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.
A New Mailwoman
After many long years of service as a mailman, Willie finally retired, hanging up his mailbag. However fate has continued to involve a Lumpkin with the Fantastic Four after his niece Billie has taken over his route and hence, his position as the Fantastic Four's mail carrier.
Willie however remained a close friend to the Fantastic Four and still visits them from time to time. He appeared in Fantastic Four #543 where he was being interviewed about the FF on the news show 'Lateline'. He talked about how even though the group took on cosmic menaces, they always found time to greet him. Something he appreciated a lot. Some months later Willie was invited and present at Franklin's birthday party.
Saved by the Fantastic Four
Willie was diagnosed with a tumor in his brain, one whom was so difficult to remove that doctors thought it was un-removable and that he would almost certainly die because of it. However, the Fantastic Four came to the help of their loyal mailman. The foursome shrunk down to the size of atoms and entered he body of the mailman where they managed to get rid of the tumor. Willie was forever thankful of the Fantastic Four and knew these where friends for life.
Marvels is a "history" of the world of Marvel super-heroes written by Kurt Busiek and 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.
Ultimate Fantastic Four
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 version 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 when it has been taken over by the Mad Thinker; a potential recruit to the think tank who was ultimately rejected in favor of Reed and her unstable psychological profile. 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.
When 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. Lumpkin accompanies the Four with a military complement into the past, with the entire group disguised as a traveling circus with Lumpkin costumed as a jester.
Nevertheless, they are discovered and Willie's men are forced to fight the city guard. 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.
Fantastic Four (2005)
In the 2005 Fantastic Four film, Willie Lumpkin made a cameo appearance and was portrayed by his own creator, Stan Lee.
In the 2006 Fantastic Four animated series, Willie Lumpkin was voiced by Colin Murdock.