Tales to Astonish: Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, and the American Comic Book Revolution

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The spectacular life and times of Jack Kirby, the legendary forefather of American comic books.

For fifty years, Jack Kirby drew more pages than any other comic book artist. As talented as he was prolific, Kirby was responsible for many of the most well-known and beloved superheroes in popular culture.

With his first writing partner Joe Simon, he created Captain America, DC Comics's Sandman, and the lucrative genre of the romance comic. In the ...

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Tales to Astonish: Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, and the American Comic Book Revolution

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Overview

The spectacular life and times of Jack Kirby, the legendary forefather of American comic books.

For fifty years, Jack Kirby drew more pages than any other comic book artist. As talented as he was prolific, Kirby was responsible for many of the most well-known and beloved superheroes in popular culture.

With his first writing partner Joe Simon, he created Captain America, DC Comics's Sandman, and the lucrative genre of the romance comic. In the 1960s, Kirby paired with Stan Lee to develop a pantheon of heroes that included, among others, the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk, the X-Men, Thor, Iron Man, the Avengers, the Silver Surfer, and the Inhumans. Together with Lee, this artist and writer forever changed the American comic book by introducing angst-ridden heroes, sympathetic villains, and a dynamic visual style that has influenced every artist who followed.

The inspiration behind The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Jack Kirby has been hailed by Wizard magazine as "Without any doubt...the single most important creator in the History of American Comic Books." In Tales to Astonish, Ronin Ro chronicles Kirby's poverty-stricken origins in the Lower East Side, his early commercial triumphs and failures, his renowned partnership with Stan Lee, his continuing artistic innovations (the production department hated him for pasting photographs into his pages), and his lengthy legal battles with Marvel comics over the ownership of his original art. An insightful portrait of one of its most enduring-and overlooked-artists, Tales to Astonish is also a lively, novelistic account of the comic book industry, from its inauspicious origins to its sensational successes.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781582343457
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 7/2/2004
  • Pages: 388
  • Product dimensions: 6.34 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 1.22 (d)

Meet the Author

Ronin Ro is the author of Gangsta: Merchandising the Rhymes of Violence, the award-winning international bestseller Have Gun Will Travel: The Spectacular Rise and Violent Fall of Death Row Records, and the novel Street Sweeper (soon to be a major motion picture). He has written for Vanity Fair, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Herald, Playboy, Rolling Stone, SPIN, and MTV. He lives in upstate New York.

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2008

    A true history of how Stan Lee used & buried Jack Kirby!

    A fanatastic book that gives great insights to the greed of the comic publishers and how they used great men like Kirby, Ditko and others. Sad but true Kirby and others really created 90% of the story line and imput but Lee took all the alocades and money. I understand that he now gives the late Kirby more credit but I really wonder how he can look at himself in the mirror every morning. Much appreciation to the wandering sumerai Ro who had the guts to tell the true story. A must for every silver age reader.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2005

    All hail King Kirby!

    As a lifelong fan of Jack Kirby¿s work, I was anxious to read Ronin Ro¿s biography of the great, tragic master artist. I wasn¿t disappointed. Tales to Astonish is a fascinating look at Kirby¿s life, from his early days as Jacob Kurtzberg in Manhattan, to his early art days, his days in the army during WWII it¿s easy to see how these dramatic and occasionally traumatic events provided the fuel and pathos for Kirby to co-create the Fantastic Four, The Hulk, Thor, the X-Men, the Avengers, and countless other characters for Marvel. Though this book goes in depth into Jack Kirby and Stan Lee¿s always dynamic, often dysfunctional relationship, it does try to present a balanced view by also quoting Stan and letting the reader draw their own conclusions. After the break with Marvel, it recounts the creation of Kirby¿s Fourth World at DC (my favorite era) and follows him through until the bittersweet end. Not only is it Kirby¿s story, but many other creators are featured, such as Stan Lee, John Romita, Joe Simon, Mark Evanier, and many more. Roz Kirby, the Queen mother of comicdom also has her tale told. This is not only an invaluable lesson in comic history, but in the human condition. It¿s the story of one man¿s life that is more extraordinary than any of the characters he created. It should not only be read by every comic book fan, but every student of pop culture, and every artist who even thinks about working freelance. Highly recommended to all!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2004

    Unforgettable and haunting

    Ronin Ro has written a masterpiece. Kirby's life and times are presented with the sweeping literary tone of an epic novel. Tales to Astonish does for comics what Sea Biscuit did for horse racing--takes readers back to an earlier age and restores the glory to a forgotten champion, his generation, and what they spent their lives trying to accomplish. This is a classic that has more to do with life, war, marriage, adult decisions, and friendship than it does with men in tights and four color comic books (although the author competently covers those topics as well with an incredible mix of research and original interviews).

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