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Stan Lee: The Man behind Marvel

by Bob Batchelor Rowman and Littlefield
Pub Date:
12/2018
ISBN:
9781538128435
Format:
Pbk 264 pages
Price:
AU$27.99 NZ$28.69
Product Status: In Stock Now
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The Amazing Spider-Man. The Incredible Hulk. The Invincible Iron Man. Black Panther. These are just a few of the iconic superheroes to emerge from the mind of Stan Lee.


 


From the mean streets of Depression-era New York City to recipient of the National Medal of Arts, Lee’s life has been almost as remarkable as the thrilling adventures he spun for decades. From millions of comic books fans of the 1960s through billions of moviegoers around the globe, Stan Lee has touched more people than almost any person in the history of popular culture.


 


In Stan Lee: The Man behind Marvel, Bob Batchelor offers an eye-opening look at this iconic visionary, a man who created (with talented artists) many of history’s most legendary characters. In this energetic and entertaining biography, Batchelor explores how Lee capitalized on natural talent and hard work to become the editor of Marvel Comics as a teenager. After toiling in the industry for decades, Lee threw caution to the wind and went for broke, co-creating the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Hulk, Iron Man, the X-Men, the Avengers, and others in a creative flurry that revolutionized comic books for generations of readers. Marvel superheroes became a central part of pop culture, from collecting comics to innovative merchandising, from superhero action figures to the ever-present Spider-Man lunchbox.


 


Batchelor examines many of Lee’s most beloved works, including the 1960s comics that transformed Marvel from a second-rate company to a legendary publisher. This book reveals the risks Lee took to bring the characters to life and Lee’s tireless efforts to make comic books and superheroes part of mainstream culture for more than fifty years.


 


Stan Lee: The Man behind Marvel not only reveals why Lee developed into such a central figure in American entertainment history, but brings to life the cultural significance of comic books and how the superhero genre reflects ideas central to the American experience. Candid, authoritative, and utterly absorbing, this is a biography of a man who dreamed of one day writing the Great American Novel, but ended up doing so much more—changing American culture by creating new worlds and heroes that have entertained generations of readers.
Meet Stanley Lieber: movie fan, adventure-story fan, budding writer. Young Stanley started in the comic book business as an assistant to Timely Comics’ head writer, Joe Simon, and to artist Jack Kirby. Along the way, as he graduated from assistant to writer, he became known as Stan Lee and wound up revolutionizing the comic-book business: in partnership with some of the great artists (Kirby and the legendary Steve Ditko, among others), he created Spider-Man, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, and other familiar superheroes. What made Lee’s creations special was his insistence on giving them recognizable human traits and flaws; these weren’t idealized superheroes but real people with special abilities. This is a solidly researched and written biography of Lee (who is in his mid-nineties now).... [Lee] is a hugely entertaining story, and the author tells it well.


— Booklist


 


 


This unauthorized biography by cultural historian Batchelor (Mad Men: A Cultural History) is as much a history of Marvel Comics and the comic book industry as it is of Stan Lee, the man largely credited with transforming the comic book industry into a pop culture colossus. Batchelor begins with Lee’s childhood in New York City during the Great Depression, to which he attributes Lee’s strong work ethic and ambition. A workaholic from an early age, Lee joined the comic book industry at its infancy, learning the ropes from writer Joe Simon and artist Jack Kirby, who were his mentors at Timely Comics (later renamed Marvel Comics). By age 19, Lee had already taken over as editor-in-chief. Aside from the first chapter on his childhood, the book mainly glosses over Lee’s personal life, focusing primarily on his career. Batchelor shows how Lee led his team of writers and illustrators with a can-do spirit, working with his staff in employing snappy dialogue and colorful graphics to concoct a dynamic new medium. Introducing racial diversity, serial storytelling, current events, and emotional conflict, the boastful Lee and his team devised a marvelous universe of new characters, who connected strongly with readers by displaying emotional weaknesses that equaled their physical strengths.... Batchelor successfully shows how this dreamer and risk-taker perfectly captured the cultural zeitgeist and assisted in creating 'fairy tales for grown-ups.'


— Publishers Weekly


 


 


[Stan Lee:] The Man Behind Marvel is a thorough primer for the newcomer to the tale of Lee’s legendary 1960s rise. Batchelor delves into not only how Lee worked as an editor — the creative freedom he gave many artists worked to his advantage, too — but also how he built himself into a celebrity brand synonymous with the Marvel name.


— The Washington Post


 


 


Bob Batchelor's bio of Stan Lee is not only thorough and accurate, it's also extremely well written. If you enjoy reading Stan's stories, you'll enjoy the story of Stan just as much.


— Steve Englehart, novelist and comic book writer (The Avengers, Captain America)


 


 


An insightful and candid look at one of the twentieth century's greatest myth-makers.


— Mark Waid, writer (Daredevil, The Fantastic Four, Kingdom Come)


 


 


Bob Batchelor's book takes us on a journey into the life and imagination of Stan Lee, whose collaborations with Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko laid the foundation of the Marvel Universe and unleashed a creative explosion that continues to impact--and transform--all of popular culture.


— J. M. DeMatteis, writer (The Amazing Spider-Man, Silver Surfer)


 


 


In this smartly written, deeply researched biography, Bob Batchelor cuts through the hype and hyperbole to reveal the secret origins of Stan Lee's thoroughly mythic life and art. It's one for both the casual and hardcore fans.


— Brian Jay Jones, author of George Lucas: A Life


 


 


Stan Lee is must reading for comics fans and anyone interested in the creative process. A great book about a great man.


— Arthur Asa Berger, author of The Comic-Stripped American


 


 


Readers will love this book even if they know the outcome of Stan’s story. The thrill of this biography is not in Lee’s triumphs but in following the Voice of Marvel through decades of doubts, frustrations, and professional dissatisfaction before he achieved his status as an American icon. Batchelor took readers back in time with a highly descriptive style that would be at home in a novel. A meticulously researched and fact-filled account accompanied Batchelor’s breezy writing to analyze comic’s greatest bard…. Batchelor went on to fill in the blanks of history in an approachable and informative manner. It was clear he put a great effort into acquiring the multiple sources he cited regularly in the Chicago style. Moreover, this book would be a blessing for anyone seeking a secondary academic source on comics or the history of Stan Lee…. Whether a reader is a comic historian or just a big fan, Stan Lee: The Man Behind Marvel is chock-full of a thrilling narrative, stories, and little-known trivia in the life of Stan Lee….Stan Lee: The Man Behind Marvel is available on Amazon in paperback or e-book and is a must-read for comic readers and historians. Pick it up today!


— Geeks Worldwide


 


 


Impressively informed and informative, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, Stan Lee: The Man behind Marvel is an extraordinary biographer that is a 'must read' for the legions of Stan Lee fans. Absolutely certain to be an enduringly popular addition to both community and academic library Contemporary American Biography collections....


— Midwest Book Review


 


 


Readers will love this book even if they know the outcome of Stan’s story. The thrill of this biography is not in Lee’s triumphs but in following the Voice of Marvel through decades of doubts, frustrations, and professional dissatisfaction before he achieved his status as an American icon. Batchelor took readers back in time with a highly descriptive style that would be at home in a novel. A meticulously researched and fact-filled account accompanied Batchelor’s breezy writing to analyze comic’s greatest bard…. Batchelor went on to fill in the blanks of history in an approachable and informative manner. It was clear he put a great effort into acquiring the multiple sources he cited regularly in the Chicago style. Moreover, this book would be a blessing for anyone seeking a secondary academic source on comics or the history of Stan Lee…. Whether a reader is a comic historian or just a big fan, Stan Lee: The Man Behind Marvel is chock-full of a thrilling narrative, stories, and little-known trivia in the life of Stan Lee….Stan Lee: The Man Behind Marvel is available on Amazon in paperback or e-book and is a must-read for comic readers and historians. Pick it up today!


— Geeks Worldwide


 


 


[In this] energetic and entertaining biography.... Batchelor examines many of Lee’s most beloved works, including the 1960s comics that transformed Marvel from a second-rate company to a legendary publisher. This book reveals the risks Lee took to bring the characters to life and Lee’s tireless efforts to make comic books and superheroes part of mainstream culture for more than fifty years. Stan Lee: The Man Behind Marvel not only reveals why Lee developed into such a central figure in American entertainment history, but brings to life the cultural significance of comic books and how the superhero genre reflects ideas central to the American experience. Candid, authoritative, and utterly absorbing, this is a biography of a man who dreamed of one day writing the Great American Novel, but ended up doing so much more—changing American culture by creating new worlds and heroes that have entertained generations of readers.


— Forces of Geek


 


 


Bob’s Batchelor’s Stan Lee: The Man Behind Marvel provides an insightful look into not only the titular man himself, but also the complex and captivating world of Marvel Comics growth and evolution over the years.... Stan Lee: The Man Behind Marvel is an exceptionally well researched book and even for those who are not prone to reading non-fiction it will still engage you through the well written prose. You also get to see some great photos of Stan Lee in his younger days. I highly recommend this book to comic book fans, regardless of your publisher preferences, and to anyone who enjoys the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Netflix series. You will come away with so much knowledge and a better understanding of how Marvel has prevailed throughout the years through the exceptional Stan Lee.


— TheNerdyGirlExpress


 


 


How did Mr. Batchelor tell a story that all comic book aficionados know in a new way and how did he make a comfortably mundane life interesting? The author took a step back from the protagonist of the biography and described the world and conditions that shaped Mr. Lee, allowing the reader to explore their own understanding of the character.... Mr. Batchelor offers us a book worth reading because he does more than distill Mr. Lee’s many interviews. Stan Lee teaches us that powerful writing comes out of adversity. Without the restrictions and worries that surely influenced Mr. Lee’s work, our shared cultural heritage would be different. Perhaps most importantly, the author doesn’t skimp on the parts of Stan Lee’s life that you really want to know about. We get detailed tellings of the creation of the Fantastic Four, of Mr. Lee’s working relationship with Jack Kirby, and his somewhat unfocused later years. (Where do you go when you become a living legend by your fifties and live into your nineties?) Whether or not you’re a comic book person, Mr. Batchelor’s book is a worthwhile chronicle of a writer’s life and offers other writers the opportunity to see what it’s like to have your creative dreams come true in ways you didn’t expect.


— Great Writers Steal


 


 


The Man Behind Marvel is a handy document that not only tracks the career of the best-known man in comic books, but also traces the rise of Marvel from copycat also-ran to industry king.


— The Weekly Standard


 


 


The Man Behind Marvel is a handy document that not only tracks the career of the best-known man in comic books, but also traces the rise of Marvel from copycat also-ran to industry king.


— The Weekly Standard


 


 


Bob Batchelor has done a very professional and well researched job.... If you want to understand the principal creator of the Marvel Universe, this new biography could serve as a one-stop shop.... Batchelor clearly knows what he’s doing, being the author of cultural studies on subjects ranging from Mad Men ... to The Great Gatsby. If you want someone to provide an objective, outsider’s analysis of the life and work of Stan Lee, then it would be hard to find a cultural historian more qualified than Batchelor. This is especially true for readers who haven’t dived into the story of Marvel comics before. For all fellow baby boomers—remember how Stan the Man used to sign off all those Soapboxes—Excelsior!


— Bookpleasures.com


 


 


[Bachelor] does a great job with the obviously meticulously researched information he provides so if you’re something of a newbie to Marvel or don’t recognize him beyond his name and the cameos he makes in his movies then this would be a good book for you.... Bachelor is well-known for his unbiased analysis in cultural studies of popular works and figures so you’d be hard-pressed to find a better work done.


— Artistic Bent


 


 


As a cultural historian, Bob Bachelor has evidently done vast and in-depth research of Stan Lee and his path to becoming a central figure in American pop culture, as well as the birth and evolution of the modern day comic book industry.... [It's] a pleasant read.... [I]f you want a heavily researched book that gives a solid analysis of the comic book industry and the man that heavily influenced its transformation, then this book is for you.


— Word of the Nerd


 


 


There is a lot of content in this book. I think it will be a valuable resource for enthusiasts, students of ephemera, and future historians. I appreciated the incredibly detailed footnotes and reference sections. Amazingly thorough job.


— Nonstop Reader
Bob Batchelor (Miami University) is a cultural historian who has written or edited 28 books on popular culture, modern American literature, and mass communications. Among his books are John Updike: A Critical Biography (2013), Gatsby: The Cultural History of the Great American Novel (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014), and Mad Men: A Cultural History (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016). Batchelor is Editor-in-Chief, Popular Culture Studies Journal, and oversees several series for Rowman & Littlefield.