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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$26.99 NZ$27.82
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.
Stan Lee is one of the most recognized names in comic book history, a deserving accolade because of his momentous contributions as a Marvel Comics administrator, editor, writer, and creator of some of the world's favorite pop culture icons. Of course, his penchant to stay in the limelight through self-promotion and self-reinvention, and his good fortune to remain active into his mid-nineties, were also to his advantage. Batchelor (Miami Univ.) does an admirable job of piecing together the verifiable facts and anecdotes about Lee, with non-supported GÇ£Stan legendn++? and murky details (e.g., about his ancestry), bits of history about the comics and society of the times, and plot synopses of comic books created by Lee and his cohorts. He points to decisive periods when Lee questioned being GÇ£onlyn++? a comics writer, and when he deviated from his publisher's wishes and moved into new directions. Lee and Marvel's downsides, such as his professional squabbles with Jack Kirby and others, and the company's financial woes of the nineties, are not spared, but what is lacking is a picture of GÇ£the man behind Marveln++? in a non-professional, out-of-the-company light. Stan Lee is a well-researched, lucid addition to superhero comics history and comics biography more generally.
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.