Operating out of a tiny office on Madison Avenue in the early 1960s, a struggling company called Marvel Comics presented a cast of brightly costumed characters distinguished by smart banter and compellingly human flaws.
Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, Captain America, the Incredible Hulk, the Avengers, Iron Man, Thor, the X-Men, Daredevil - these superheroes quickly won children's hearts and sparked the imaginations of pop artists, public intellectuals, and campus radicals.
Over the course of a half century, Marvel's epic universe would become the most elaborate fictional narrative in history and serve as a modern American mythology for millions of readers.
Throughout this decades-long journey to becoming a multibillion-dollar enterprise, Marvel's identity has continually shifted, careening between scrappy underdog and corporate behemoth.
As the company has weathered Wall Street machinations, Hollywood failures, and the collapse of the comic book market, its characters have been passed along among generations of editors, artists, and writers-also known as the celebrated Marvel Bullpen. Entrusted to carry on tradition, Marvel's contributors-impoverished child prodigies, hallucinating peaceniks, and mercenary careerists among them-struggled with commercial mandates, a fickle audience, and, over matters of credit and control, one another.
For the first time, Marvel Comics reveals the outsized personalities behind the scenes, including Martin Goodman, the self-made publisher who forayed into comics after a get-rich-quick tip in 1939; Stan Lee, the energetic editor who would shepherd the company through thick and thin for decades; and Jack Kirby, the World War II veteran who'd co-created Captain America in 1940 and, twenty years later, developed with Lee the bulk of the company's marquee characters in a three-year frenzy of creativity that would be the grounds for future legal battles and endless debates.
Drawing on more than one hundred original interviews with Marvel insiders then and now, Marvel Comics is a story of fertile imaginations, lifelong friendships, action-packed fistfights, reformed criminals, unlikely alliances, and third-act betrayals - a narrative of one of the most extraordinary, beloved, and beleaguered pop cultural entities in America's history.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 496 pages, Illustrations
- Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Inc
- Publication Date: 15/10/2013
- Category: Comic book & cartoon art
- ISBN: 9780061992117
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Review by BruceCoulson
An 'Inside Edition' history of Marvel Comics, from the early days (when the company was Timely Comics) to the mid 2000s. Loaded with gossip and snide insider commentary. Howe does include dissenting voices, giving some incidents a Rashomon-like quality. Perhaps the most poignant part of the book is the emphasis the comic industry places on youth; retired ex-Marvel employees and owners vanish (mostly) from the corporate and public eye without a trace. (Jack 'King' Kirby being one of the exceptions.) Invaluable for anyone who wants to know more about the comics field, as told by those who created it.