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characters Marvel Comics: The Untold Story

The defining behind the scenes chronicle of one of the most extraordinary beloved and dominant pop cultural entities in Americas history Marvel Comics and the outsized personalities who made Marvel including Martin Goodman Stan Lee and Jack KirbySean Howes history of Marvel makes a compulsively readable riotous and heartbreaking version of my favorite story that of how a bunch of weirdoes changed the worldThat i. At first I was a little skeptical about the subtitle of Sean Howe s 2012 book Marvel Comics The Untold Story I grew up reading Marvel Comics and have read other books on the company s history After finishing Howe s version however I m happy to report that his investigative journalism into Marvel s past is uite impressive and the book makes for a truly fascinating readFor the first couple chapters I wasn t so sure In Chapter 1 Howe covers the entire history of Marvel formerly known as Timely Comics up through the 1950s That s the entire Golden Age in less than 30 pages Howe isn t really concerned however with the myriad genres that Timely used to publish western horror romance funny animals and so on This is really a history of what Marvel is most famous for the superheroes beginning with the Silver Age pantheon created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and in some cases Steve Ditko Chapter 2 covers the birth of the Fantastic Four the Hulk Thor the Avengers X Men and Spider Man Howe s recaps of origin stories and mythologies get a little long winded leaving one to wonder when the untold story is going to beginFrom that point on however the book really hits its stride and becomes incredibly addictive with vivid details and surprising revelations on every page This isn t a literary history of Marvel s creative glories but rather a true business history replete with mergers acuisitions and struggles for administrative power I ll confess some of the financial and legal details were over my head and at times I could have used a little less detail Over the course of superhero comics history writers and artists continually defected from Marvel to DC and back again and Howe keeps you apprised of each and every arrival and departure Nevertheless it s better to commit sins of excess than omission and Howe s thorough behind the scenes expos of life inside the Marvel bullpen is probably the next best thing to working thereThough written in the third person the book has the feel of an oral history likely because Howe interviewed about 150 former Marvel employees Howe lets all sides get their two cents in without passing judgment The long fought battle between Lee and Kirby over creative ownership of certain characters for example is handled in a fairly balanced manner Howe diligently follows the trail of rancor and neither party comes out smelling like a rose Stan the Man comes across as somewhat pathetically clueless while King Kirby is depicted as taking his justifiable grievances to delusional excess In general Howe subtly favors individual creators over big business but he always presents both sides of an argumentThough Howe celebrates the company s creative triumphs his overall picture of the Marvel empire is rather unflattering As he charts the trajectory of the publisher through boom and bust periods he makes it pretty clear that over time the company has sacrificed creative uality in favor of commercialism diluting the integrity of its treasured characters for a uick buck As one of the many fans Marvel lost in the 90s I have a tendency to agree with him which is perhaps why I enjoyed the book so much There are other good books on Marvel history out there like the self congratulatory Marvel Chronicle A Year by Year History or Mark Evanier s excellent biography Kirby King of Comics but if you re looking for one book that s going to give you the clearest most complete picture of the Marvel story this is it

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 Marvel Comics: The Untold Story

Ts all true is just frosting on the cake Jonathan LethemFor the first timeMarvel Comicstells the stories of the men who made Marvel Martin Goodman the self made publisher who forayed into comics after a get rich uick tip in 1939 Stan Lee the energetic editor who would shepherd the company through thick and thin for decades and Jack Kirby the WWII veteran who would co create Captain America in 1940 and twenty yea. This is an amazing collection of information The Business of the comics we all know and love sometimes juxtaposed with the creation and creators An often ugly story that sheds a light on the behind the scenes both as it was portrayed in the limelight and also what was intentionally hidden Now you will see the shadows in the story s The editorializing that was sometimes covertly and sometimes blatantly written into the stories No character was ever allowed a linear progression and yet somehow these worlds survived and sometimes thrived And much like the true heroes in the trenches of our military the majority of the creators were treated like cannon fodder Should we be ashamed that we supported a succession of regimes that benefited the greedy This book will leave that taste in your mouth BUT to see the names and something of the personalities This book is a rich history I am grateful for it

Sean Howe É 0 Read

Rs later developed with Lee the bulk of the companys maruee characters in a three year frenzy Incorporating than one hundred original interviews with those who worked behind the scenes at Marvel over a seventy year spanMarvel Comicspacks anecdotes and analysis into a gripping narrative of how a small group of people on the cusp of failure created one of the mostenduring pop cultural forces in contemporary Americ. Got this off before Xmas and read it in one sitting almostIf you re on Facebook I highly recommend author Sean Howe s dedicated page on this book as it contains an awful lot of visual information sadly not present in this fine volume Jack Kirby s 1958 future cityscape illustration on this FB page is astonishing Moebius whoAnyhoo as an elderly fanboy myself I m well aware of the history of Marvel Comics even in Scotland we ve heard the alleged tale of a certain Marvel artist who beat up a fellow artist mate of his who wouldn t hand over the money he d made for filling in a couple of issues said artist couldn t make the deadline on but it s good to have this oral history of Marvel Comics all confirmed in print or lessFor younger comic book fans this book is a terrific read and I highly recommend it I d certainly never heard of David Bowie s ex wife Angie having such a particular interestinvolvement in the Black Widow character so that piece of trivia alone made it worth purchasingAuthor Howe s analysis of Marvel s editorial philosophy is spot on ditto for same regarding the subtext found in Editor in chief Jim Shooter s own writing on the Avengers for example not to mention the business related ups downs over the decades no wonder Stan Lee mostly sat that stuff outSince this book is only available via Forbidden Planet and or the odd charity shop you ll not find it in any high street bookstoresA worthy purchase indeed Effendi

9 thoughts on “ Marvel Comics: The Untold Story

  1. says:

    At first I was a little skeptical about the

  2. says:

    Exhaustively researched, written in a colloquial tone, and dedicated to every minute detail about struggles over authorship, layoff

  3. says:

    I will preface this by saying I started reading comics in the 70's. The good things about this book was reading about the artists,

  4. says:

    This is an amazing collection of information. The Business of the comics we all know and love, sometimes juxtaposed with the creation and creators. An often ugly story that sheds a light on the behind the scenes, both as it was portr

  5. says:

    As a Marvel fan from the mid 1960's onwards I thought I knew a fair bit about the writers and artists and the arguments that led to several renowned departures especially in the earlier phase those of Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko and the "creative differences" they had with Stan Lee as to who actually created major characters. There was so much intrigue behind the scenes though.
    This 400 plus page book adds lots meat to the bones

  6. says:

    The one book that has destroyed my childhood reminiscing, brilliant read but behind the pages of stories are fantastic tales of wonder, my jaw dropped at certain parts ( certain creators hanging around new York , dropping acid and writing of the experiences) and laugh out loud at others ( Stan lees wig) so much to read with quotes given sources, I'm on my 3rd reread and still finding things I've missed, I'm gonna download the narration n

  7. says:

    Genius! If you have any interest at all in the creative or business end of the comic book industry over the past fifty years, then you need to read this book. The general Marvel narrative is well known: desperate publisher allows experimentation, genius artist and wisecracking huckster create a new paradigm, the Sixties pop art revolution, College kids become the new audience, the original band splits up due

  8. says:

    This is a very good account of what was going on behind the scenes at Marvel Comics during the 1980s. I was fascinated by this because I worked

  9. says:

    Got this off before Xmas and read it in one sitting (almost).

    If you're on Facebook, I highly recommend author Sean Howe's dedicated page on this book as it contains an awful lot of visual information sadly not present in this fine volume (Jack Kirby's 1958 future cityscape illustration on this FB page is astonishing; Moebius who?).

    Anyhoo, as an 'elderly' fanboy myself, I'm well aware of the hist