6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book for comic enthusiasts
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...
Published on 27 Jun 2002 by -titan-
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining but not very detailed
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...
Published 3 months ago by Jonathan Weir
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book for comic enthusiasts,
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.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Onwards and upwards with Stan the Man!,
This review is from: Excelsior!: The Amazing Life of Stan Lee - The Creator of X-Men, Spider-Man, Incredible Hulk, Silver Surfer and the Fantastic Four (Paperback)
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!) urged him to follow his own vision (that of creating comics characters who had distinct personalities and complex personal lives) rather than live his life wishing he had at least tried to do things his own way. Well Stan Lee put his vision into action with The Fantastic Four # 1 and with that comic he both revived a struggling industry and found his niche in the world.
Work hard and consistently
Stan Lee came from a poor family and remembered his father struggling to find work during the Great Depression. This left him with a strong work ethic and he tended to work as many jobs as he could at one time in order to pay the bills and enjoy a lifestyle which his father had only dreamed of. This work ethic remains with him today and his tendency to make cameo appearances is only in part due to his love of showboating, more importantly he loves to keep working. His success is down to working hard and consistently, persisting when colleagues around him might have just given up or eased back on their work rate.
The importance of disciplined creativity
Stan Lee does not believe in notion of 'writers block'. He says himself that though he has worked in a creative industry, the need to keep producing material has demanded that he keep on writing. He believes strongly that creativity must be tempered with discipline, after all he had sometimes dozens of comics per month to fill with dialogue and character development. This means having to make yourself be creative even when 'the muse' seems to be absent.
There you have it. A very personal book choice for me but one which I think you will find offers some salient observations on just what it takes to be the author of a worldwide success. As Stan himself would say, 'Excelsior!'
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining but not very detailed,
This review is from: Excelsior!: The Amazing Life of Stan Lee (Paperback)
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.
2.0 out of 5 stars Hugely entertaining, but not very informative,
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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. As an autobiography, apart from a few interesting if superficial glances at his family life, this isn't much more than a sequence of familiar, well-rehearsed anecdotes. That's any old geezer's privilege, and Stan does his act well, so this is an entertaining book even if you've heard it all before. If you don't know much about him, this isn't a bad starting point, but for anyone taking the next step or looking for more than superficialities, you're better off with Raphael and Spurgeon's thoughtful biography, which is just a click or two away on this very website.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book humourous honest and hilarious,
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Quite simply tells the story of stan lee life his professional and personal ones.
The tale is one of heart felt honesty and in some cases breath taking naivety.
As well as his early life in the depression and his war service, we deal with how he met his wife and there ups and downs alongside his career in "funny books".
How in the early 60s he was about to quit to do something more creatively satisfying when his Geordie wife advised he give one last college try.
The result was fantastic four ,then spider man ,ironman, thor etc.(the rest is history)
He details his horrendous work load running every marvel title
and how becoming the face of marvel alienated his colleagues and his boss.
Who thought he was taking too much of the credit .
Steve ditko the "other guy" who created spiderman and of course jack kirby .Stan eventually works with kirby again and patches up there differences.
but fate is not done with stan yet there's the comic book code and the seduction of the innocent debarkle.
Marvel seems to have been bought out every other week by various rich guys changing the playing field constantly.
When some of his old comics start selling for 10s of thousands of dollars
the average man on the street starts buying up comics as an investment.
Not realising that there being so many copies about will make the comics nearly worthless.
Once joe public realises this comic book makers are left with suddenly shrinking circulations ,a glut of comics they cant give a way and enormous wall street style crash occurs nearly destroying the comic industry .
To stan's credit his only sympathies are with the independent comic book shops many of whom closed down during this period.
He tends not to dwell on his mistakes or lack of business acumen like the fact that his characters have made billions and he has seen very little of it.His ill fated stan lee media company and his dubious business partner now hiding out in south america.
The books goes along way to dispelling some of the negative myths around stan and humanising the chairman emeritus of marvel comics.Biographies can have a tendency to back fire and expose the subject as a "wrong un".
This is full of warmth and wit and most of all humanity
which is what he brought to his comic book characters
Long live stan
(just don't do any more Kevin smith movies ,okay?)
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Excelsior!: The Amazing Life of Stan Lee by Stan Lee (Paperback - 7 May 2002)