“How much Stan can you stand?” Tim and Emmet’s look at books on Stan Lee continues with The Man’s graphic novel-memoir Amazing Fantastic Incredible, by Stan Lee, Peter David, and Colleen Doran. Can we recommend it?
How much Stan can you stand? That’s the question Emmet and Tim are asking as we review an undetermined number of Stan Lee biographies! In episode 692, we covered Spurgeon and Raphael’s 2004 entry; this time, it’s the most recent tome, True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee by Abraham Riesman. While some in the mainstream press may be stunned by this book’s revelations about Stan’s status as “creator” of the Marvel Comics pantheon, this is not news in comics circles. But why is a self-professed fan of Stan delivering so much negativity? Or, is Riesman being, rather than too harsh, not harsh enough?
Tim and Emmet begin a series on Stan Lee biographies with the 2003 book Stan Lee and the Rise and Fall of the American Comic Book by Jordan Raphael and the late, great Tom Spurgeon. What’s the tone of this book, and how does it portray Stan? How much of the Marvel Universe is he actually responsible for, and what were his motivations for taking more credit than he deserved? We discuss, and then Tim gets some background on the making of the book from co-author Jordan Raphael!
One of the most acclaimed Marvel runs of the 1980s was by Walt Simonson on The Mighty Thor. He began writing and drawing it with #337, continued through to #367 (with a quick break in the middle), then gave up art duties but continued writing through #382. This run set aside Dr. Don Blake, focused on mythical threats rather than earthly ones, and injected some humor into what had sometimes been a fairly dry, dour book. Tim and Kumar look back to assess this important run.
Stan Lee, Marvel Comics writer, art director, publisher, promoter, and icon, died November 12 at age 95. While he is loved by many, and undoubtedly had a hand in some of the greatest stories of Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, and more, he was also known to aggravate disputes over story credit and art ownership with the likes of Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko. In this episode, Tim, Kumar, and Tom Spurgeon wrestle with the legacy of Stan the Man.
At London Super Comicon last month, Koom got to sit down with Paul Gravett, a comics journalist and exhibition curator. Gravett is currently preparing the touring Asian comics show Mangasia, which will debut in Rome next month. This is a guy who’s read a lot of comics; do they all become a blur after a while? Koom asks him about avoiding burnout, the amount of progress comics have (or haven’t) made toward being accepted by the “art world”, and much more.
While we’ve talked before with Austin Tichenor and John Roberson about adapting comics to the stage, we’ve never talked about (or even thought about!) adapting the lives of comics creators to that stage! But Lenny Schwartz has done it, and more than once, writing and directing “Co-Creator” (about Bill Finger and his claim to the Batman legacy) and “The Man Who Saw Snoopy” (about Charles Schulz, of course!). And he has another in the works on Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko.
This week Lenny tells Tim about writing these plays, just how much credit Bob Kane and Stan Lee may actually deserve, how Schulz used Peanuts as his diary, and much more.
If you’re into American comics at all, you undoubtedly know how Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and others changed the industry with their work in the 1960s, and set the template for kinds of stories Marvel still publishes today.
That’s just part of the story that Sean Howe researched for his 2012 book Marvel Comics: The Untold Story. Through interviews, research of media reports, and of course tons of comics reading, Howe uncovered the backgrounds of many comics stories and rumors that longtime readers may have wondered about. There’s plenty of intra-creator acrimony to be found in its pages, yet Howe found that the book helped some of those involved to move on from decades-old wounds.
This week Tim talks to Sean Howe about the research, the reaction, and what this book has to say to aspiring creators.
While he’s never stopped working, Steve Ditko’s most celebrated work was done decades ago, and he’s slammed the door on many opportunities for further success. If sticking to your principles prevents fame and fortune, is your career a failure or a success? Tim and Paul discuss the Fantagraphics coffee table biography “Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko” by Blake Bell.