Cover image for Stan Lee and the rise and fall of the American comic book
Stan Lee and the rise and fall of the American comic book
Raphael, Jordan.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Chicago, Ill. : Chicago Review Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
xv, 304 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
Personal Subject:
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN6727.L39 Z88 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
PN6727.L39 Z88 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
PN6727.L39 Z88 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PN6727.L39 Z88 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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Based on interviews with Stan Lee and dozens of his colleagues and contemporaries, as well as extensive archival research, this book provides a professional history, an appreciation, and a critical exploration of the face of Marvel Comics. Recognized as a dazzling writer, a skilled editor, a relentless self-promoter, a credit hog, and a huckster, Stan Lee rose from his humble beginnings to ride the wave of the 1940s comics books boom and witness the current motion picture madness and comic industry woes. Included is a complete examination of the rise of Marvel Comics, Lee's work in the years of postwar prosperity, and his efforts in the 1960s to revitalize the medium after it had grown stale. Read more about Stan Lee and the Rise and Fall of the American Comic Book at .

Author Notes

Jordan Raphael has written for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Globe and Mail, and other publications
Tom Spurgeon edited The Comics Journal and has written for Seattle's The Stranger and his syndicated newspaper comic strip, Wildwood, appeared in over 12 million homes daily

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Stan Lee is probably the world's most visible comic-book creator, though he has retired from comics writing. His career in the industry dates from 1940, but he toiled anonymously until vitalizing the field in the early 1960s with Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, and the other, groundbreaking Marvel Comics superheroes. As Marvel's line grew, Lee turned to overseeing the expanding roster of titles and was gradually eased into being company figurehead, traveling the country to shill for the firm. Recently his reputation has been tarnished by accusations that he tried to hog credit for creating Marvel's iconic characters by minimizing the contributions of the artists who worked with him. This well-researched biography usefully corrects Lee's self-serving memoir Excelsior! (2002) and also serves as a critical history of Marvel Comics as well as an overview of the rise and fall of the entire comics industry, now at a commercial nadir, selling a fraction of the number of copies it once did and existing largely, it seems, to develop fodder for blockbuster movies. --Gordon Flagg Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Stan Lee, the cocreator of pop cultural icons like Spider-Man, the Hulk and the X-Men, has long been the subject of debate within the comics community, and Raphael and Spurgeon aim to set the record straight in this well-researched and entertaining book. In the late 1960s, Lee elevated himself into the public eye as the face of Marvel Comics, adopting a colorful persona along the way. Left behind were his c-creators, artists Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, who never received the credit they deserved. At age 17, in 19TK, Lee (n? Stanley Lieber) took a job as an all-purpose assistant at his cousin Martin Goodman's comic book company, Timely. A frustrated novelist, Lee remained at Timely, shielded by Goodman from the industry's mid-century tumults, and eventually he transformed the company into Marvel Comics, steering it and himself into pop culture history. The authors portray Lee as a constantly enthusiastic, slightly daffy figure who turned a Depression-era work ethic and real bursts of creativity into something special. For all of his faults, the authors give Lee proper credit for being a fast and exciting creatorwho gave superheroes real-world problems and anxieties and used this realism for its maximum potential. Raphael and Spurgeon also chronicle Lee's decades in the wilderness of Hollywood, trying and failing to get decent films made from Marvel properties. Writer Raphael and cartoonist Spurgeon have put together a solid narrative well interwoven with the history of comics. As they demonstrate well, Lee's story is the story of mainstream comic books and one that is important reading. 12 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

One of the architects of the modern superhero comic, Lee was head writer and editor at Marvel Comics from 1945 to 1972 and has served as a public frontman for the company ever since. This book, detailing Marvel's history and Lee's work inside and outside of the company, acts as a companion to Lee's 2002 autobiography, Excelsior! (and sports a similar cover). Lee is known largely as the creator of many of Marvel's famous characters, including Spider-Man, the X-Men, and the Hulk. But Raphael and Spurgeon (along with many others) argue that the creative contributions of the artists Lee collaborated with were as important as Lee's own, and the two instead locate Lee's greatest contributions in his dialog writing and his excellent work as editor. The authors expose a few factual inaccuracies that Lee has promulgated about himself over the years and recount the sometimes harsh criticism of Lee as a glory-hog from some artists and industry pundits, but they also show affection for their subject. (Their contention that comics are now a marginal art form, however, is insupportable given the current interest in and success of graphic novels.) Recommended for all libraries. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

Adult/High School-Raphael and Spurgeon march readers through Lee's first 80 years, taking many compelling byroads along the way to observe the history of American comic-book development, distribution, and readership. Lee created a dynamic and somewhat charismatic persona for himself early in life, and was able to move from technical grunt work to a certain level of co-creativity with more sophisticated artists, and from errand boy to publisher to media mogul. He is, indeed, a part of popular culture with high name recognition. The authors use a variety of resources, including interviews with field specialists and unpublished writings, to substantiate their views of both the man and the medium's evolution. While there are source notes for each chapter, they appear in alphabetical order, making it impossible to find the specific reference to which some controversial declarations are attributed. This will frustrate those doing higher-level research but won't impede casual readers' enjoyment of a colorful man's story told through well-described vignettes.-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Introduction and Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Prologuep. xi
Part I "From Humble Beginnings ..."
1 Stanley Lieberp. 3
2 Martin's Cousin-in-Lawp. 10
3 Stan Lee, Playwrightp. 19
Part II "Excelsior!"
4 Bring on the Bad Guyp. 37
5 The Biggest Comic-Book Company in North Americap. 49
6 Jolly Jack and Sturdy Stevep. 64
7 The Escapistp. 72
Part III "The Marvel Age of Comics has Truly Begun"
8 The World's Greatest Comic Magazinep. 81
9 Secret Originsp. 86
10 What Marvel Didp. 95
Part IV "A Marvel Pop-Art Production"
11 Live and on Campusp. 109
12 Stan Lee, Editorp. 116
13 Moving on Upp. 126
Part V "With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility"
14 Friends of New Marvelp. 137
15 Building the Brandp. 157
Part VI "Flame On!"
16 Stan Lee, Authorp. 171
17 Stan in Hollywoodp. 184
Part VII "This Man, This Monster"
18 The Evil Empirep. 201
19 Step Right Up!p. 213
Part VIII "It's Clobberin' Time!"
20 In Stan's Imagep. 233
21 Millionaire on Paperp. 247
Part IX "If This be My Destiny"
22 Stan the Manp. 259
23 Ever Upwardp. 266
Source Notesp. 271
Indexp. 289