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Marvel Comics: The Untold Story

Marvel Comics: The Untold Story

Written by Sean Howe

Narrated by Stephen Hoye


Marvel Comics: The Untold Story

Written by Sean Howe

Narrated by Stephen Hoye

ratings:
4.5/5 (44 ratings)
Length:
17 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Jan 22, 2013
ISBN:
9780062272287
Format:
Audiobook

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Also available as ebookEbook

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Description

An unvarnished, unauthorized, behind-the-scenes account of one of the most dominant pop cultural forces in contemporary America.

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.

Publisher:
Released:
Jan 22, 2013
ISBN:
9780062272287
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as ebookEbook

About the author

Sean Howe is the editor of Give Our Regards to the Atomsmashers!: Writers on Comics and the Deep Focus series of film books. He is a former editor and critic at Entertainment Weekly, and his writing has appeared in New York, The Los Angeles Times, Slate, Spin, and The Village Voice. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.



Reviews

What people think about Marvel Comics

4.3
44 ratings / 17 Reviews
What did you think?
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Reader reviews

  • (2/5)
    This book is detail oriented. You can learn to knit fax, but unless you’re a total comic geek nerd, you will definitely find some if not most, of this book to be dry
  • (4/5)
    A good book. It glossed over a few areas but was still quite well researched. It doesn't pull punches. It goes into creator rights and Marvel's bankruptcy (almost the end of them). Wish it head spent a little more time in each of the decades.
  • (4/5)
    There's an ugliness uncovered by this book that I really had never considered before about Marvel The Business. Backstabbing, outright theft and piracy, and he-said/he-said swirl around in such operatic scale that it's surprising that ANYTHING got published at all!
    Hundreds of interviews and deep research kick over the fallen log of Marvel's history; I read in horrified fascination about all the things that squirmed out from under it.
    Oh, I still consider myself a Marvel Fan, no question; but it's still the characters I love, not the business practice.
  • (3/5)
    The birth of Marvel comics. Interesting how huge an impact Stan Lee and Jack Kirby had. Without them Marvel probably wouldn't even still exist. If it did it would be very different. Sad that Lee and Kirby had a falling out.

    Interesting that there were some great years where it sounds like working at Marvel would have been a lot of fun. Followed by some terrible times where people were fired and the market tanked in part due to some poor management.

    People who like Marvel and are interested in the back story will find this just the book to pick up to read about Marvel's history.
  • (5/5)
    This book should probably come with a health warning; that it may destroy the love of even the hardiest Marvel fan. It’s an unofficial history of one of the dominant cultural forces of the late twentieth century, taking the story from its origins as Timely Comics to the point of what looks like their greatest triumph; the conquering of the silver screen.I can’t pretend that a lot of the shenanigans came as any surprise – I’m familiar with the numerous ways comic book creators have been exploited down the years and much of the behind the scenes conduct is familiar to any comics fan with an internet connection. But the whole history of the company appears dispiriting with venality and immaturity seemingly the driving forces behind the company. It’s also a history that gives the lie to anyone knowing what they’re doing with successes seemingly a matter of randomness and timing and inefficiency and ignorance often undermining the company even at its most successful. It’s a good argument to present against anyone who argues the private sector is automatically more efficient and effective than the public sector. Where the book’s really a joy is in the behind the scenes characters you barely glimpsed even in the book credits. The best example if John Verpoorten, the indefatigable production manager who’s quietly doing a lot of good work behind the scenes and at times keeping the company going before being driven to an early grave. It’s beautiful and heartbreaking moments like that that offset the juvenile antics of the 70s Bullpen, the Jim Shooter megalomania and the unprofessional/rock n roll (delete as applicable) conduct of the Image founders. Not always the prettiest of pictures but through and never less than fascinating.
  • (3/5)
    A strange, sad, and stunning look at the corporate machinations that is known as Marvel Comics. It was a fascinating read.