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Excelsior!: The Amazing Life of Stan Lee - The Creator of X-Men, Spider-Man, Incredible Hulk, Silver Surfer and the Fantastic Four [Paperback]

Stan Lee , George Mair
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

6 Jun 2003
Stan Lee is the Marvel Comic genius who created "Spider-Man", "The X-Men" and "The Incredible Hulk" among others and has been in the business for over 40 years. This memoir traces Lee's life from growing up in a modest Jewish family in New York, getting his first story published in a magazine when aged 17, his first job as a gofer at Timely Comics (later to become Marvel Comics) where he worked with Jack Kirby and Joe Simon. He was made creative director aged 18 when they left, enlisted when the war broke out shortly after and was one of only eight U.S. Army playwrights alongside such luminaries as Frank Capra. Lee went back to comics after the war as the creative force behind Marvel, selling over two billion comics to young, and not so young, people all over the world.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Boxtree Ltd; New edition edition (6 Jun 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0752265326
  • ISBN-13: 978-0752265322
  • Product Dimensions: 22.8 x 15.2 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 966,451 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

The excitement generated by Excelsior!, the long-awaited autobiography of an icon of the comic world that coincides with the release of the spring’s most keenly anticipated blockbuster, Spider-Man, may not equal the frenzy the movie is creating, but many have been eagerly awaiting Stan Lee’s revelations on how he created such immortal superheroes as the Fantastic Four, Daredevil, the X-Men and--oh, yes--Spider-Man. Lee is Marvel Comics veteran writer and creative director who almost single-handedly made comics hip--thanks to his innovations, campuses all over the US and the UK began to find comics de rigueur reading. The urbane, immensely likeable Lee has been in the comics business for over 40 years, and has long been its most articulate voice. This fascinating, handsomely illustrated memoir details the writer’s life from childhood in a modest Jewish family in New York to getting his first story published in a magazine at seventeen, and his break into comics as jack-of-all trades at Timely Comics (Marvel's predecessor) where he met legendary artist Jack Kirby (his co-creator of most of the great Marvel superheroes). His talents didn’t go unrecognised for long: he became creative director at 18. Lee enlisted when the war broke out and was one of only eight US Army playwrights alongside such stellar names as Frank Capra. Lee went back to comics after the war as the driving force behind Marvel, selling over two billion comics to readers of all ages throughout the world. Lee’s memoir is always candid about such things as the shabby treatment he received at the hands of incompetent or avaricious bosses, and refreshingly up front about his bitter break with the two key illustrators who worked with him, Jack Kirby and Spider-Man artist Steve Ditko. The tone of voice here will be very familiar to those raised on Marvel Comics: it’s a good-natured, winningly self-critical, utterly riveting read, and an essential curtain raiser for the Spider-Man movie.--Barry Forshaw --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


This long-awaited autobiography of an icon of the comic world coincides with the release of the spring's most eagerly anticipated blockbuster, Spider-Man. Stan Lee is the Marvel Comics supremo who created Spider-Man, X-Men and The Incredible Hulk. This fascinating memoir traces Lee's life from growing up in a modest New York Jewish family, and his first job as a gofer at Timely Comics. He was made creative director, enlisted when the war broke out, and was one of only eight US Army playwrights alongside such luminaries as Frank Capra. Lee went back to comics after the war as the creative force behind Marvel, selling over two billion comics the world over. Packed with previously unseen photos and artwork from Lee's personal archive, this will be essential reading for students of popular culture. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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It may have seemed ordinary to some, but it was an event that would affect the minds and lives of millions in the years to come. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book for comic enthusiasts 27 Jun 2002
Stan Lee has written his autobiography much the way he has written to his Marvel fans, in an easy going and informal style sprinkled with humour. We are invited to see how as a talented writer from a depression-era family, he had his first taste of comics, to soon join the Army (in which he frequently saves the world by indirect means), and finally returning to comics to co-found Marvel. He elaborates on how comics have come of age from the humble comic strip, pass the Golden Age of Comics, to the current Hollywood craze about all things with costumes. This book will be an interesting read for both the young and old who know of Fantastic Four, Spiderman, the Incredible Hulk and the X-Men and wish to know of the man behind the scenes, glimpses of how he created them and his thoughts and musings. Amongst these, he reveals the reason for the near-conspiratorial pattern of character names from Reed Richards (R.R.), Bruce Banner (B.B.), Peter Parker (P.P.), Jonah Jameson (J.J.). All in all, a very enjoyable book and at 250 pages, it is very light and readable in one sitting.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Onwards and upwards with Stan the Man! 20 July 2010
I am an immigrant and when I came to the UK with my family way back in the early 1960s my love for reading and for the English language began with Marvel Comics and the work of Stan 'The Man' Lee. I learned to appreciate great writing, irony, alliteration, puns and Shakesperian references not just in the four-colour adventures of The Fantastic Four, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk etc. but also through Stan Lee's editorial pages and responses to readers' letters.

So I came to this semi-autobiography with a strong sense of expectation and I was not disappointed. What I found was the story of a man who had significant lessons to teach me about the hard work and habits that underlie success.

The book follows Stan Lee's life from his beginnings as the child of impoverished parents in Queens, New York City to his current standing as the Publisher Emeritus of Marvel Comics and the man overseeing the realisation of his superhero characters as among the most successful products in Hollywood.

The book is written in the easygoing and mildly self-ironic style that is typical of Stan Lee's work, but in amongst the witty asides and self-deprecatory humour there are some valuable lessons to be learned for even serious businessmen. The three things I learned most from this book are:

Be true to your vision
Stan Lee entered the filed of comic book writing almost by accident but found that it became a steady, if not always lucrative, source of income. However in the early 1960s he was on the verge of quitting the struggling comics industry when his wife Joan (a Brit!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining but not very detailed 28 Mar 2014
This is a bright and breezy biog of probably the most well known name in comics, Stan Lee the man behind Marvel. Written in a humourous style, you can certainly hear the great man's voice leaping off the page, but what it has in humour and informality, it often lacks in detail. The early part deals with how Stan got into comics and this is the most fascinating, painting a vivid picture of New York in the 40s and 50s. What's needed more detail is the stories behind his fall outs with Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko - anyone hoping for new revelations will be disappointed. The fall outs between these legends is dealt with in a paragraph or so.

Still the man himself has paid his dues and for the most part this is entertaining and an easy read - worthwhile picking up if you're a Marvel or comics fan in general but I feel Stan, the heroes he created and most importantly the people he created those heroes with deserve something better and meatier down the line.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Hugely entertaining, but not very informative 26 Sep 2012
By Runmentionable TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed reading this book. As ever, Stan is a hugely amiable companion and he writes in the breezy, humourous style that's familiar to anyone who's ever read one of his comics or seen him being interviewed.

And that's exactly the problem. The book tells you almost nothing he hasn't told us many times before, and like many autobiographies it's a bit self-serving. In particular, Lee's tales of his resistance to the anti-comics moral panic of the early '50s have been shown to be greatly exaggerated if not downright dishonest (he never, as he asserts here, took part in public debates with the anti-comics campaigner Frederic Wertham). It's also evasive - as ever, he shys away from any meaningful discussion of how the Marvel Age of Comics really came about, and in particular the contributions of Kirby and Ditko, and what is or isn't due to them and their estates.

None of which should be any surprise. Lee's memory is notoriously bad (which is why so many of his characters have alliterative initials, as he tells us - again - here), and his ongoing relationship with Marvel is clearly a barrier to a franker discussion, even if memory and willingness to discuss these matters weren't. That's no criticism of Stan - despite his detractors, his achievements are very significant, his influence on popular culture is immense, most people who've worked with him clearly adore the guy and he deserves all he's got. The problem is, his collaborators deserve everything they DIDN'T get - and the issues about exactly who did what, and how it all unravels, are, as they have been for some time, unresolved, and of abiding interest.

But there's none of that here.
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