Stan Lee: The Man behind Marvel

Stan Lee: The Man behind Marvel

by Bob Batchelor


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781538128435
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 12/15/2018
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 264
Sales rank: 135,371
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Bob Batchelor is a cultural historian who has written or edited more than two dozen books on popular culture and American literature, including books about John Updike, The Great Gatsby, and Mad Men. Batchelor lives in Oxford, Ohio and teaches at Miami University.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Prologue: Dawn of the Fantastic xi

1 Stanley Lieber, New Yorker 1

2 Teenage Editor 17

3 Army Playwright 33

4 Return to Marvel 43

5 Public Enemy Number One 55

6 Birth of the New Hero: The Fantastic Four 65

7 Spidey Saves the Day! 79

8 Horde of Superheroes 91

9 Marketing the Marvel Universe 107

10 Creating an Icon 121

11 Marvel's Multitude of Maladies 135

12 Lure of Hollywood 149

13 Marvel Manipulations 161

14 Rise and Fall of Stan Lee Media 171

15 Meanwhile… 179

16 Larger Than Life 189

Conclusion: American Icon 201

Notes 205

Index 223

About the Author 229

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Stan Lee: The Man behind Marvel 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous 11 months ago
Dont be rude!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very happy with my purchase and becoming a member was the best 25.00 I ever spend.
stickerooniDM More than 1 year ago
Like many baby-boomers, I grew up reading comics and thinking of Stan Lee as that crazy but lovable uncle who knows how to talk to kids. Plus, he worked in comics - how cool is that?! While I was big into comics for much of the 1970's I didn't really stay with it, but I did hear rumors of frustrations between different members of the artistic staff (writers and artists) and Marvel - and by extension, Lee. Bob Batchelor's biography addresses some of this, which I found interesting, and typically seemed to relieve Lee of any wrong-doing (though it does mention that the memories of those days may not be the most clear in anyone's memory). I enjoyed getting the scoop on Lee's early days, particularly his war years, which was something I had never known about. First - I didn't even know there was such as a thing as 'playwright' as an official Army designation. Even as a teen reader of comics, and despite my appreciation for all things Lee and Marvel, I was never a fan of Lee's actual stories. He seemed, to my teen mind, too obvious and gregarious. But reading through this biography I have a new appreciation for the quickness by which he wrote, practically keeping Marvel running single-handedly during some of its earliest days. It takes a great deal of hubris to be able to run a company the way Lee managed to do, especially in the early days, and we see that hubris later on as Lee lends his name to new companies - including one that appeared to be nothing more than a ponzi scheme to capitalize on his name. While his cameo appearances in the Marvel movies are a truly fun nod to the early Marvel days and lead a new crop of Marvel fans to meet that crazy, fun uncle, there is a certain amount of excessive pride going on there as well. The book is easy to read and Batchelor moves through the different periods of Lee's work life quite smoothly. What we don't get, however, is almost as interesting. We don't get much of Lee's early life, other than how it seemed to inevitably lead to his taking a job with a publisher. We don't get much of his personal life other than that he married. In this sense, the book isn't so much a biography of Stan Lee the man, but Stan Lee the driving force behind Marvel and a comic renaissance. Maybe there is no difference? All in all, a good read, though I can't imagine it will be the last or most definitive look at the comic/pop icon. Looking for a good book? Bob Batchelor's biography Stan Lee: The Man Behind Marvel is a nicely written and well-researched look at the man who, in his mid-nineties is a living pop icon. I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
SPercival More than 1 year ago
Must read for Marvel fans! A captivating, behind the scenes look into Lee's vast career. In reading this book, I now have enormous respect for Lee's relentless efforts in co-creating the superheroes we know and love today. Thoroughly researched and well-written, this is essential reading for all comic book fans.