Excelsior!: The Amazing Life of Stan Lee

Overview

The man behind Spider-Man, The X-Men, The Incredible Hulk, and a legion of other superheroes tells his own amazing story in a book packed with punch, humor, anecdotes, and a gallery of never-before-seen photographs.

Stan Lee is the most legendary name in the history of comicbooks. The leading creative force behind the rise of Marvel Comics, he brought to life some of the world's best-known heroes and most infamous villains. His stories, featuring super- heroes who struggled ...

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Overview

The man behind Spider-Man, The X-Men, The Incredible Hulk, and a legion of other superheroes tells his own amazing story in a book packed with punch, humor, anecdotes, and a gallery of never-before-seen photographs.

Stan Lee is the most legendary name in the history of comicbooks. The leading creative force behind the rise of Marvel Comics, he brought to life some of the world's best-known heroes and most infamous villains. His stories, featuring super- heroes who struggled against personal hang-ups and bad guys who possessed previously unseen psychological complexity, added wit and subtlety to a field previously locked into flat portrayals of good vs. evil. Lee put the human in the super-human. In the process, he created a new mythology for the twentieth century.
In this treasure trove of marvelous memories, Stan tells the story of his life with the same inimitable wit, energy, and offbeat spirit that he brought to the world of comicbooks. He moves from his impoverished childhood in Manhattan to his early days writing comicbooks, followed by military training films during World War II, through the rise of the Marvel empire in the 1960s to his recent adventures in Hollywood.
The story of a man who earned respect by blazing new creative trails in a storytelling form once dismissed as just for kids, Excelsior! is an inspirational story about following one's vision, no matter the odds. Yet it's also the story of how some of the most exciting and memorable characters in the pop-culture universe came to thrill a generation.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Who is the creative genius behind such unforgettable comic book characters as Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, the Fantastic Four, and the Avengers? None other than Stan Lee, the legendary leader of Marvel Comics. In this boisterous biography, the scintillating scribe reveals the exciting epic that is his life. As Smilin' Stan himself would say, "Make Mine Marvel!"
Publishers Weekly
Lee, chief editor and writer of Marvel Comics during the 1960s, played a major role in the creation of prominent superheroes such as Spiderman, the X-Men, and the Fantastic Four. This autobiography recounts his beginnings in the comic book field in the 1940s, his frustration with his career as a comic book writer and editor until he created richer characters in the 1960s, and his success as a spokesman for Marvel Comics since the 1960s. Throughout, the persona Lee created never falters; the tone is warm, straight-talking, and simultaneously confident and insecure the same traits with which Lee imbued his superheroes. Lee has come under attack in recent years for overstating his contributions to the comic book field and for the failure of his Internet company, Stan Lee Media. This book offers something of a rebuttal, with Lee crediting his creative partners fully and portraying himself as a victim in his company's failure. With the success of Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, which traces the early days of the comic book industry, and the motion picture, Spider-Man, interest in the creation of the comic book industry has increased. We'll be seeing more books like Lee's. Purchase wherever patrons are fans of 1960s Marvel comics. Stephen Weiner, Maynard P.L., MA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Lee, chief editor and writer of Marvel Comics during the 1960s, played a major role in the creation of prominent superheroes such as Spiderman, the X-Men, and the Fantastic Four. This autobiography recounts his beginnings in the comic book field in the 1940s, his frustration with his career as a comic book writer and editor until he created richer characters in the 1960s, and his success as a spokesman for Marvel Comics since the 1960s. Throughout, the persona Lee created never falters; the tone is warm, straight-talking, and simultaneously confident and insecure the same traits with which Lee imbued his superheroes. Lee has come under attack in recent years for overstating his contributions to the comic book field and for the failure of his Internet company, Stan Lee Media. This book offers something of a rebuttal, with Lee crediting his creative partners fully and portraying himself as a victim in his company's failure. With the success of Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, which traces the early days of the comic book industry, and the motion picture, Spider-Man, interest in the creation of the comic book industry has increased. We'll be seeing more books like Lee's. Purchase wherever patrons are fans of 1960s Marvel comics. Stephen Weiner, Maynard P.L., MA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684873053
  • Publisher: Touchstone
  • Publication date: 5/7/2002
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Stan Lee

Stan Lee is the former head writer, editorial and art director, publisher, and chairman of Marvel Comics, where he now holds the title of chairman emeritus. Currently chairman and chief creative officer of POW! Entertainment, where he creates motion pictures and television series, he lives in Los Angeles.

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Read an Excerpt

Introduction

Stan's Soapbox

How did it happen?

How did I get into this? Me, a guy who's almost always written fantasy, suddenly having to deal with facts-the facts of my life.

Although, come to think of it, those facts themselves are pretty fantastic. If I hadn't lived the whole thing I might not even believe it. And, if you wanna talk about irony — !

During those strange, struggling, early years, I wallowed in embarrassment because I was a mere comicbook writer. And now, because of those same humble comicbooks, here I am the featured star of a real, grown-up book, the hero of my own life story.

There's probably a moral hidden there. Feel free to search for it as we roll along.

To tell the truth, I can't wait to read the pages that follow. Since so much of the past has managed to homogenize in the plotcluttered recesses of my mind, it's a chance to rediscover little truths about my own inscrutable self and the titanically talented people I've worked with.

It'll also be a kick revisiting the weird and wonderful world of comics, a world inhabited by some of the most gifted artists and storytellers of our time, unsung geniuses who are only now beginning to receive the fame and respect that is so long overdue them.

In fact, as I write these hopefully imperishable words, virtually every major movie and TV studio is busily producing highconcept features based on, or inspired by, comicbook superheroes. Yep, our once-lowly costumed cavorters are now a mother lode of entertainment in today's quest for ever more thrills and excitement.

And so, thanks to Hollywood's burgeoning love affair with fantasy and special effects, I and the creations I've lived with lo these many years have suddenly become — way cool!

But first, a word about how this unorthodox book about MY unorthodox life came to be.

My passionately persuasive literary agent, Susan Crawford, assured me that the entire reading public was panting for me to write my autobiography. (Yeah, right!) I told her I couldn't do it for two reasons. One, I'd never have time to do all the necessary research or to fine-tune a document chronicling seven long decades of memories, mirth, and misadventures. Two, I'd feel diffident about personally enumerating all my wonderful and endearing qualities; at the very least it could sound a mite immodest. Therefore, in one of the typical flashes of inspiration for which I'm so justly famous, I suggested that someone else simply write it as a biography, so the plaudits and accolades would not be attributed to my own unassuming self.

But Susan, with bulldog tenacity belying her cherubic features, said that my old friends at Simon & Schuster wanted it to have the flavor of my own style of writing (masochists that they were) and not some biographer's. Finally, when it seemed we were at an impasse, that most erudite editor, magisterial Matt Walker, got into the act. With the wisdom of Solomon-and the persistence of a piranha-he suggested it be a new type of biography, a "bio-autography," if you will. He and Susan twisted the arm of George Mair, biographer par excellence and all around swell guy, to collaborate on the book with me. George would diligently do the research, organize the factual material, and write the flattering portions of the book (which I hoped would be the major part, of course), while I would kibitz throughout the tome by adding items of philosophical profundity and inane inconsequence whenever you least expect it.

So what you now behold with breathless anticipation is the world's first bioautography. Hell, you wouldn't expect anything less from me, would you?

Okay, now that that's out of the way, I'd better start wrapping this up so that George can do his thing. And what better way to do that than by telling you these seventy-plus years have been a wild and wondrous ride for me. I want you to have as much fun reading about them as I had living them. In fact, it'll be even easier for you. You can share all the funky, frivolous, far-out foibles without having to write a page of dialogue or draw a single picture yourself.

But, before I turn you loose so you can get to the good stuff, here are a couple of sentences I wrote some years ago to describe my feelings about what Marvel Comics represents. The entire passage is actually longer than this, but I fear if I give you the whole thing, there won't be a dry eye left in the place.

Marvel is a cornucopia of fantasy, a wild idea, a swashbuckling attitude, an escape from the humdrum and prosaic. It's a serendipitous feast for the mind, the eye, and the imagination, a literate celebration of unbridled-creativity, coupled with a touch of rebellion and an insolent desire to spit in the eye of the dragon.

There you have it, my take on Marvel and the fantasy genre in general, and perhaps my own philosophy in particular. If those words strike a chord with you, read on. If they don't, I'd rather not know.

So let's not waste another minute. My whole life is on the pages ahead, awaiting your validation. I hope you don't mind company while you read, 'cause I'll be right there with you all the way.

Excelsior!

Copyright © 2002 by Stan Lee and George Mair

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Introduction

Introduction

Stan's Soapbox How did it happen? How did I get into this? Me, a guy who's almost always written fantasy, suddenly having to deal with facts-the facts of my life.Although, come to think of it, those facts themselves are pretty fantastic. If I hadn't lived the whole thing I might not even believe it. And, if you wanna talk about irony -- !During those strange, struggling, early years, I wallowed in embarrassment because I was a mere comic book writer. And now, because of those same humble comic books, here I am the featured star of a real, grown-up book, the hero of my own life story.There's probably a moral hidden there. Feel free to search for it as we roll along. To tell the truth, I can't wait to read the pages that follow. Since so much of the past has managed to homogenize in the plotcluttered recesses of my mind, it's a chance to rediscover little truths about my own inscrutable self and the titanically talented people I've worked with. It'll also be a kick revisiting the weird and wonderful world of comics, a world inhabited by some of the most gifted artists and storytellers of our time, unsung geniuses who are only now beginning to receive the fame and respect that is so long overdue them.In fact, as I write these hopefully imperishable words, virtually every major movie and TV studio is busily producing high concept features based on, or inspired by, comic book superheroes. Yep, our once-lowly costumed cavorters are now a mother lode of entertainment in today's quest for ever more thrills and excitement.And so, thanks to Hollywood's burgeoning love affair with fantasy and special effects, I and the creations I've lived with lo these many years have suddenly become -- way cool!But first, a word about how this unorthodox book about MY unorthodox life came to be.My passionately persuasive literary agent, Susan Crawford, assured me that the entire reading public was panting for me to write my autobiography. (Yeah, right!) I told her I couldn't do it for two reasons. One, I'd never have time to do all the necessary research or to fine-tune a document chronicling seven long decades of memories, mirth, and misadventures. Two, I'd feel diffident about personally enumerating all my wonderful and endearing qualities; at the very least it could sound a mite immodest. Therefore, in one of the typical flashes of inspiration for which I'm so justly famous, I suggested that someone else simply write it as a biography, so the plaudits and accolades would not be attributed to my own unassuming self.But Susan, with bulldog tenacity belying her cherubic features, said that my old friends at Simon & Schuster wanted it to have the flavor of my own style of writing (masochists that they were) and not some biographer's. Finally, when it seemed we were at an impasse, that most erudite editor, magisterial Matt Walker, got into the act. With the wisdom of Solomon-and the persistence of a piranha-he suggested it be a new type of biography, a "bio-autography," if you will. He and Susan twisted the arm of George Mair, biographer par excellence and all around swell guy, to collaborate on the book with me. George would diligently do the research, organize the factual material, and write the flattering portions of the book (which I hoped would be the major part, of course), while I would kibitz throughout the tome by adding items of philosophical profundity and inane inconsequence whenever you least expect it. So what you now behold with breathless anticipation is the world's first bioautography. Hell, you wouldn't expect anything less from me, would you? Okay, now that that's out of the way, I'd better start wrapping this up so that George can do his thing. And what better way to do that than by telling you these seventy-plus years have been a wild and wondrous ride for me. I want you to have as much fun reading about them as I had living them. In fact, it'll be even easier for you. You can share all the funky, frivolous, far-out foibles without having to write a page of dialogue or draw a single picture yourself. But, before I turn you loose so you can get to the good stuff, here are a couple of sentences I wrote some years ago to describe my feelings about what Marvel Comics represents. The entire passage is actually longer than this, but I fear if I give you the whole thing, there won't be a dry eye left in the place.Marvel is a cornucopia of fantasy, a wild idea, a swashbuckling attitude, an escape from the humdrum and prosaic. It's a serendipitous feast for the mind, the eye, and the imagination, a literate celebration of unbridled-creativity, coupled with a touch of rebellion and an insolent desire to spit in the eye of the dragon.There you have it, my take on Marvel and the fantasy genre in general, and perhaps my own philosophy in particular. If those words strike a chord with you, read on. If they don't, I'd rather not know. So let's not waste another minute. My whole life is on the pages ahead, awaiting your validation. I hope you don't mind company while you read, 'cause I'll be right there with you all the way.Excelsior!
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2003

    WHO'S THE MAN? STAN IS

    All of the biographies I read this is the more enjoyable. It is not only funny but memorable. It is sad that the world of literature doen't recognize Stan Lee as one of its greatest authors. The book is very informative, I really enjoy his tales rhat had nothing to do with the comic book business. Not that those were bad, but I beeing a big Lee fan, I wanted to know more about the life of one of my favorite writers. And this book didn't dissapointed me. I hope there is really a sequel to this great masterpiece.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2002

    Amazing Stan's Amazing Partner Peter Paul

    I read the book and personally knew the players. George Mair is a capable writer and Stan polished it well, but factually the Stan Lee Media era of Stan's life isnt accurate. How Stan's close friend spent 10 years trying to liberate Stan from Marvel's abusive relationship, resulting in a highly unusual contract with Marvel that gave Stan $1million per year for life and the right to use Spider Man to compete with Marvel, was left out of the book.I know that Stan was very close with Paul and that he never understood how Paul was made the scapegoat of the corporate suits that he and Stan hired to run the company. These Execs' from Sony's negligence,incompetence and sheer malevolnce destroyed a great company and a great relationship. This chapter is still being written. Except for this criticism of George's failure to get the facts of this last chapter in Stan's life, and grasp the situation, it is a good work I would recommend highly.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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