Stan Lee: The Man Behind Marvel

Bob Batchelor. Rowman and Littlefield, $22.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-4422-7781-6
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. Though the parallels he draws between Lee and his superheroes become redundant after awhile, Batchelor successfully shows how this dreamer and risk-taker perfectly captured the cultural zeitgeist and assisted in creating “fairy tales for grown-ups.” (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/28/2017
Release date: 09/01/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 260 pages - 978-1-4422-7782-3
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