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Marvel Comics: The Untold Story

by

Marvel Comics: The Untold Story Cover

ISBN13: 9780061992100
ISBN10: 0061992100
All Product Details

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.

Review:

"The comic book publisher that spawned roughly half of Hollywood's summer franchises roils with its own melodrama in this scintillating history. Journalist Howe, editor of Give Our Regards to the Atomsmashers, recounts the saga of Stan Lee and the other auteurs who broke the square-jawed-and-earnest mold to create quirky, neurotic, rough-edged superheroes with a Pop Art look, including Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, and the X-Men. Howe's exploration of the vast Marvel fictive universe, with its crazily grandiose plots and thousands of bizarre characters — the psychedelic 1970s birthed Angarr, a hippie supervillain who 'blasted people with bad trips and primal screams' — is affectionate and incisive. But he focuses on the battle between the forces of art and commerce at the Marvel offices, where writers, artists, and editors wrestle for control of story arcs, titanic egos clash over copyrights, and creative oddballs confront the heartless, power-mad suits from marketing. Adroitly deploying zillions of interviews, Howe pens a colorful panorama of the comics industry and its tense mix of formulaic hackwork, cutthroat economics and poignant aesthetic pretense. Like comic books, his narrative often goes in circles; the same antagonisms keep churning away on successively grander platforms. Still, Howe paints an indelible portrait of the crass, juvenile, soulful business that captured the world's imagination. Photos. Agent: Daniel Greenberg, Levine Greenberg Literary Agency." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Review:

"Sean Howe's history of Marvel makes a compulsively readable, riotous and heartbreaking version of my favorite story, that of how a bunch of weirdos changed the world. That it's all true is just frosting on the cake." Jonathan Lethem

Review:

"A warts-and-all, nail-biting mini-epic about the low-paid, unsung 'funnybook men' who were unwittingly creating twenty-first century pop culture. If you thought the fisticuffs were bare and bloody on the four-color page, wait 'til you hear about what went down in the Marvel bullpen." Patton Oswalt

Review:

"Exhaustively researched and artfully assembled, Marvel Comics is a historical exploration, a labor of love, and a living illustration of how the weirdest corners of the counterculture can sometimes become the culture-at-large." Chuck Klosterman

Review:

"Page after page, Sean Howe's Marvel Comics manages to be enchantingly told, emotionally suspenseful and totally revelatory. If I knew more about superpowers, I'd be able to explain how he did it." Sloane Crosley

Review:

"Sean Howe is to Marvel Comics what Procopius was to the Byzantine Empire: a court gossip of breathtaking thoroughness and exactitude, and a sly and nuanced writer. It is imperative that this work not fall into the hands of alien species, or we're done for." Luc Sante

Synopsis:

In the early 1960s, Marvel Comics introduced a series of bright-costumed superhero characters—including Iron Man, the Hulk, Thor, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, Daredevil, and the Amazing Spider-Man—that would evolve into a modern American mythology for millions of readers. Over the last half-century, these characters have been passed along among generations of brilliant editors, artists, and writers who struggled with commercial mandates, a fickle audience, and, over matters of credit and control, one another. Written by Sean Howe, former comic book reviewer and editor at Entertainment Weekly, Marvel Comics: The Untold Story is a gripping narrative of one of the most extraordinary, beloved, and beleaguered pop cultural entities in America’s history.

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.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

lukas, January 11, 2013 (view all comments by lukas)
I grew up reading Marvel comics in the 80s and have watched with some surprise and envy how comics, once the province of adolescent boys, have become hugely popular and even cool. Sean Howe's in depth history of Marvel is well-timed and readable, but also blandly written and selective. He focuses on icons like Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and details the creation of classic characters and their evolution. However, he skips over some titles (I was a big "G.I. Joe" reader) and doesn't spend much time with the current state of Marvel. It seems the big comic book movies that have led to the mainstreaming of comics would be an interesting topic, but he barely touches on it. While a must read for the comic book fan, it is somewhat disappointing.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No

Product Details

ISBN:
9780061992100
Subtitle:
The Untold Story
Author:
Howe, Sean
Publisher:
Harper
Subject:
Corporate History
Subject:
Business-History and Biography
Subject:
United States - 20th Century
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Publication Date:
20121009
Binding:
Hardback
Language:
English
Pages:
496
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 22.8 oz

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Art » Style and Design
Business » Communication
Business » General
Business » History and Biographies
Children's » General
Featured Titles » Culture
Featured Titles » General
Fiction and Poetry » Graphic Novels » History and Criticism
Fiction and Poetry » Graphic Novels » Superheroes
Fiction and Poetry » Graphic Novels » Toon History
History and Social Science » Sociology » General
History and Social Science » US History » 20th Century » General
Humanities » Literary Criticism » Comics and Graphic Novels

Marvel Comics: The Untold Story New Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$26.99 In Stock
Product details 496 pages Harper - English 9780061992100 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "The comic book publisher that spawned roughly half of Hollywood's summer franchises roils with its own melodrama in this scintillating history. Journalist Howe, editor of Give Our Regards to the Atomsmashers, recounts the saga of Stan Lee and the other auteurs who broke the square-jawed-and-earnest mold to create quirky, neurotic, rough-edged superheroes with a Pop Art look, including Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, and the X-Men. Howe's exploration of the vast Marvel fictive universe, with its crazily grandiose plots and thousands of bizarre characters — the psychedelic 1970s birthed Angarr, a hippie supervillain who 'blasted people with bad trips and primal screams' — is affectionate and incisive. But he focuses on the battle between the forces of art and commerce at the Marvel offices, where writers, artists, and editors wrestle for control of story arcs, titanic egos clash over copyrights, and creative oddballs confront the heartless, power-mad suits from marketing. Adroitly deploying zillions of interviews, Howe pens a colorful panorama of the comics industry and its tense mix of formulaic hackwork, cutthroat economics and poignant aesthetic pretense. Like comic books, his narrative often goes in circles; the same antagonisms keep churning away on successively grander platforms. Still, Howe paints an indelible portrait of the crass, juvenile, soulful business that captured the world's imagination. Photos. Agent: Daniel Greenberg, Levine Greenberg Literary Agency." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Review" by , "Sean Howe's history of Marvel makes a compulsively readable, riotous and heartbreaking version of my favorite story, that of how a bunch of weirdos changed the world. That it's all true is just frosting on the cake."
"Review" by , "A warts-and-all, nail-biting mini-epic about the low-paid, unsung 'funnybook men' who were unwittingly creating twenty-first century pop culture. If you thought the fisticuffs were bare and bloody on the four-color page, wait 'til you hear about what went down in the Marvel bullpen."
"Review" by , "Exhaustively researched and artfully assembled, Marvel Comics is a historical exploration, a labor of love, and a living illustration of how the weirdest corners of the counterculture can sometimes become the culture-at-large."
"Review" by , "Page after page, Sean Howe's Marvel Comics manages to be enchantingly told, emotionally suspenseful and totally revelatory. If I knew more about superpowers, I'd be able to explain how he did it."
"Review" by , "Sean Howe is to Marvel Comics what Procopius was to the Byzantine Empire: a court gossip of breathtaking thoroughness and exactitude, and a sly and nuanced writer. It is imperative that this work not fall into the hands of alien species, or we're done for."
"Synopsis" by , In the early 1960s, Marvel Comics introduced a series of bright-costumed superhero characters—including Iron Man, the Hulk, Thor, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, Daredevil, and the Amazing Spider-Man—that would evolve into a modern American mythology for millions of readers. Over the last half-century, these characters have been passed along among generations of brilliant editors, artists, and writers who struggled with commercial mandates, a fickle audience, and, over matters of credit and control, one another. Written by Sean Howe, former comic book reviewer and editor at Entertainment Weekly, Marvel Comics: The Untold Story is a gripping narrative of one of the most extraordinary, beloved, and beleaguered pop cultural entities in America’s history.
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