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Tales to Astonish: Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, and the American Comic Book Revolution

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Tales to Astonish: Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, and the American Comic Book Revolution Cover

ISBN13: 9781582345666
ISBN10: 158234566x
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Review-A-Day

"Despite [its] darker sections, the dominant emotion Tales to Astonish stirred within me was awe. Lee and Kirby were comic book gods, and their creations were to the staid superhero genre what Elvis and the Beatles were to rock 'n' roll. The real Jack Kirby was every bit as colorful as his characters. Tales to Astonish at last gives him his due — and finally, after far too long, made one adult comic reader a fan." Chris Bolton, Powells.com (read the entire Powells.com review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Tales to Astonish tells the spectacular life and times of Jack Kirby, the legendary forefather of American comic books. In the 1960s, Kirby joined with Stan Lee to develop many of our best-known and most beloved superheroes, including the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk, the X-Men, Thor, Iron Man, the Avengers, and the Silver Surfer. Ronin Ro chronicles Kirby's poverty-stricken origins in New York's Lower East Side, his early commercial triumphs and failures, his renowned partnership with Lee, and his revolutionary artistic innovations, tracing the comic book industry from its inauspicious beginnings to its sensational successes.

Review:

"[T]he book compellingly depicts the codependent relationship between the charismatic Lee and the rough-edged Kirby....The story packs as much pathos as any of the duo's signature supersagas. (Grade: B+)" Entertainment Weekly

Review:

"Ro deftly handles Kirby's relationships. Tales to Astonish celebrates the stubbornness that kept Kirby, a superhero of comic books in his own right, creative as if against his will." San Francisco Chronicle

Review:

"Ro cleanly lays out Kirby's story. He does well by the facts." The Onion

Review:

"Concentrating heavily on descriptions of character and plot, Ro offers less material on the basic production of comic books....A chronicle of people, who, bit by bit, 64 pages for a dime, influenced our culture greatly." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"[Ronin] paints a colorful portrait...of the comic book's early days, and his accounts of Kirby's acrimonious split with Lee and battle with Marvel over ownership of his original drawings show that the industry remained cutthroat." Booklist

Synopsis:

An insightful portrait of one the most enduring — and overlooked — comic book artists, Tales to Astonish is also a lively, novelistic account of the comic book industry.

Synopsis:

Tales to Astonish relates the spectacular life and times of Jack Kirby, the legendary forefather of American comic books. In the 1960's, Kirby joined with Stan Lee to develop many of our best-known and most beloved superheroes, including the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk, the X-Men, Thor, Iron Man, the Avengers, and the Silver Surfer. Ronin Ro chronicles Kirby's poverty-stricken origins in New York's Lower East Side, his early commercial triumphs and failures, his renowned partnership with Lee, and his revolutionary artistic innovations, tracing the comic book industry from its inauspicious beginnings to its sensational successes.

Ronin Ro is also the author of Gangsta: Merchandising the Rhymes of Violence, the award-winning international bestseller Have Gun Will Travel: The Spectacular Rise and Violent Fall of Death Row Records, and the novel Street Sweeper. He has written for Vanity Fair, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Herald, Playboy, Rolling Stone, Spin, and MTV.
Tales to Astonish presents the spectacular life and times of Jack Kirby, the legendary forefather of American comic books. For fifty years, Kirby (1917-94) drew more pages than any other comic book artist. As talented as he was prolific, Kirby was responsible for many of the most well-known and beloved superheroes in American popular culture.

With his first writing partner Joe Simon, he created Captain America, DC Comics's Sandman, and the lucrative genre of the romance comic. In the 1960s, Kirby paired with Stan Lee to develop a pantheon of heroes that included, among others, the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk, the X-Men, Thor, Iron Man, the Avengers, the Silver Surfer, and the Inhumans. Together with Lee, this widely renowned artist and writer forever changed the American comic book by introducing angst-ridden heroes, sympathetic villains, and a dynamic visual style that has greatly influenced every artist who followed. The inspiration behind The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Jack Kirby has been hailed by Wizard magazine as "without any doubt . . . the single most important creator in the history of American comic books."

Journalist and novelist Ronin Ro's account—at once a biography of Kirby and a detailed examination of the development of American comics—chronicles Kirby's poverty-stricken origins on New York's Lower East Side, his early commercial triumphs and failures, his renowned partnership with Stan Lee, his continuing artistic innovations (the production department hated him for pasting photographs into his pages), and his lengthy legal battles with Marvel Comics over the ownership of his original art. An insightful portrait of one of our most accomplished and enduring—yet overlooked—pop artists, Tales to Astonish also affords a lively and thorough account of the comic book industry, from its inauspicious origins to its sensational successes.

"Jack Kirby is arguably the most influential comic-book artist of all time: In the early 1940s he co-created Captain America and drew dozens of other superheroes, essentially creating the template for the genre. But his best-known work comes from the 1960s, when he and writer Stan Lee created the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, and most of the rest of the innovative Marvel Comics cast. Kirby's rough-and-tumble Lower East Side childhood and maverick approach to his art must have seemed a promising subject to Ronin, whose previous books have been on rap music. He paints a colorful portrait—the real-life analog of Kavalier and Clay—of the comic book's early days, and his accounts of Kirby's acrimonious split with Lee and battle with Marvel over ownership of his original drawings show that the industry remained cutthroat . . . Ronin's is a useful, readable [study]."—Booklist

"Hip-hop author Ro considers the frisky comic-books industry in a history of the people of Marvel and DC Comics. His subjects might well have sprung from the fiction of Tom De Haven and Michael Chabon or the Bristol board of Will Eisner and Ben Katchor, though one particular genius gets much of the author's attention. With sincere admiration, Ro relates the life of Jack Kirby (1917-94), considered by comic-book connoisseurs to be the king of the art form. With his sometime colleague, sometime nemesis, the ubiquitous Stan Lee, looking over his shoulder, Kirby penciled thousands upon thousands of pages filled with superheroes, puissant villains, and aliens from strange worlds, all bursting their panels. Occasionally with others, but mostly alone and chomping on his Roi-Tan stogie, King Kirby created, among others, The Human Torch, Sub-Mariner, Spiderman, Silver Surfer, The Hulk, Dr. Strange, Sgt. Fury, and Capt. Victory (forget Elasti-Girl and Negative Man). At Marvel, Lee shared bylines while tending to the marketing; Kirby created characters and dialogue. When the relationship seemed untenable, Jack moved to DC, Superman's home, where the characters lacked inner life. Despite their primary colors, the Marvel heroes Kirby created had flaws, doubts, and personalities . . . With Kirby's passing, [this book can] be read as a tale of the twilight of some of yesterday's superheroes as they are recreated in the movies. [This book presents a] chronicle of people, who, bit by bit, 64 pages for a dime, influenced our culture greatly."—Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

Ronin Ro lives in New York City and is the author of Gangsta: Merchandising the Rhymes of Violence, the award-winning international bestseller Have Gun Will Travel, and the novel Street Sweeper. He has written for Vanity Fair, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, Playboy, Rolling Stone, and Spin.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Rory Murray, February 19, 2008 (view all comments by Rory Murray)
The Comic Book Industry is a very tough business. Some creators couldn't make it. Some died trying.
This is a story of two creators that DID make it, and along the way gave the world an amazing array of cosmic characters that are as beloved today as they were over 45 (even 65!!) years ago.
Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's characters are not only integral to the Comic Book Industry but also the Film Industry as at least a dozen of the most recent blockbusters (Fantastic Four, X-Men, Spiderman, Daredevil, Hulk...) have spung directly from Jack's pencil and/or Stan's typewriter.
Stan Lee remains at 85 years a kid at heart and Marvel Comics "Goodwill Ambassador" and somewhat of a movie star, making cameos in all the afore-mentioned films.
Unfortunately, Jack Kirby passed away in 1994, but was well aware of how beloved he was by his fans and peers.
This is an amazing story of two amazing storytellers.
"Nuff Said!"

Rory Murray
San Bernardino, CA
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(3 of 4 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9781582345666
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Subject:
General
Author:
Ro, Ronin
Subject:
Artists, Architects, Photographers
Subject:
History & Criticism *
Subject:
General Biography
Subject:
Comics & Graphic Novels
Copyright:
Edition Number:
Reprint ed.
Edition Description:
Trade Paperback
Series Volume:
Jack Kirby, Stan Lee
Publication Date:
July 2005
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
304
Dimensions:
8.28x5.60x.79 in. .60 lbs.

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Graphic Novels » Toon History

Tales to Astonish: Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, and the American Comic Book Revolution
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 304 pages Bloomsbury Publishing PLC - English 9781582345666 Reviews:
"Review A Day" by , "Despite [its] darker sections, the dominant emotion Tales to Astonish stirred within me was awe. Lee and Kirby were comic book gods, and their creations were to the staid superhero genre what Elvis and the Beatles were to rock 'n' roll. The real Jack Kirby was every bit as colorful as his characters. Tales to Astonish at last gives him his due — and finally, after far too long, made one adult comic reader a fan." Chris Bolton (read the entire Powells.com review)
"Review" by , "[T]he book compellingly depicts the codependent relationship between the charismatic Lee and the rough-edged Kirby....The story packs as much pathos as any of the duo's signature supersagas. (Grade: B+)"
"Review" by , "Ro deftly handles Kirby's relationships. Tales to Astonish celebrates the stubbornness that kept Kirby, a superhero of comic books in his own right, creative as if against his will."
"Review" by , "Ro cleanly lays out Kirby's story. He does well by the facts."
"Review" by , "Concentrating heavily on descriptions of character and plot, Ro offers less material on the basic production of comic books....A chronicle of people, who, bit by bit, 64 pages for a dime, influenced our culture greatly."
"Review" by , "[Ronin] paints a colorful portrait...of the comic book's early days, and his accounts of Kirby's acrimonious split with Lee and battle with Marvel over ownership of his original drawings show that the industry remained cutthroat."
"Synopsis" by , An insightful portrait of one the most enduring — and overlooked — comic book artists, Tales to Astonish is also a lively, novelistic account of the comic book industry.
"Synopsis" by ,
Tales to Astonish relates the spectacular life and times of Jack Kirby, the legendary forefather of American comic books. In the 1960's, Kirby joined with Stan Lee to develop many of our best-known and most beloved superheroes, including the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk, the X-Men, Thor, Iron Man, the Avengers, and the Silver Surfer. Ronin Ro chronicles Kirby's poverty-stricken origins in New York's Lower East Side, his early commercial triumphs and failures, his renowned partnership with Lee, and his revolutionary artistic innovations, tracing the comic book industry from its inauspicious beginnings to its sensational successes.

Ronin Ro is also the author of Gangsta: Merchandising the Rhymes of Violence, the award-winning international bestseller Have Gun Will Travel: The Spectacular Rise and Violent Fall of Death Row Records, and the novel Street Sweeper. He has written for Vanity Fair, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Herald, Playboy, Rolling Stone, Spin, and MTV.
Tales to Astonish presents the spectacular life and times of Jack Kirby, the legendary forefather of American comic books. For fifty years, Kirby (1917-94) drew more pages than any other comic book artist. As talented as he was prolific, Kirby was responsible for many of the most well-known and beloved superheroes in American popular culture.

With his first writing partner Joe Simon, he created Captain America, DC Comics's Sandman, and the lucrative genre of the romance comic. In the 1960s, Kirby paired with Stan Lee to develop a pantheon of heroes that included, among others, the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk, the X-Men, Thor, Iron Man, the Avengers, the Silver Surfer, and the Inhumans. Together with Lee, this widely renowned artist and writer forever changed the American comic book by introducing angst-ridden heroes, sympathetic villains, and a dynamic visual style that has greatly influenced every artist who followed. The inspiration behind The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Jack Kirby has been hailed by Wizard magazine as "without any doubt . . . the single most important creator in the history of American comic books."

Journalist and novelist Ronin Ro's account—at once a biography of Kirby and a detailed examination of the development of American comics—chronicles Kirby's poverty-stricken origins on New York's Lower East Side, his early commercial triumphs and failures, his renowned partnership with Stan Lee, his continuing artistic innovations (the production department hated him for pasting photographs into his pages), and his lengthy legal battles with Marvel Comics over the ownership of his original art. An insightful portrait of one of our most accomplished and enduring—yet overlooked—pop artists, Tales to Astonish also affords a lively and thorough account of the comic book industry, from its inauspicious origins to its sensational successes.

"Jack Kirby is arguably the most influential comic-book artist of all time: In the early 1940s he co-created Captain America and drew dozens of other superheroes, essentially creating the template for the genre. But his best-known work comes from the 1960s, when he and writer Stan Lee created the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, and most of the rest of the innovative Marvel Comics cast. Kirby's rough-and-tumble Lower East Side childhood and maverick approach to his art must have seemed a promising subject to Ronin, whose previous books have been on rap music. He paints a colorful portrait—the real-life analog of Kavalier and Clay—of the comic book's early days, and his accounts of Kirby's acrimonious split with Lee and battle with Marvel over ownership of his original drawings show that the industry remained cutthroat . . . Ronin's is a useful, readable [study]."—Booklist

"Hip-hop author Ro considers the frisky comic-books industry in a history of the people of Marvel and DC Comics. His subjects might well have sprung from the fiction of Tom De Haven and Michael Chabon or the Bristol board of Will Eisner and Ben Katchor, though one particular genius gets much of the author's attention. With sincere admiration, Ro relates the life of Jack Kirby (1917-94), considered by comic-book connoisseurs to be the king of the art form. With his sometime colleague, sometime nemesis, the ubiquitous Stan Lee, looking over his shoulder, Kirby penciled thousands upon thousands of pages filled with superheroes, puissant villains, and aliens from strange worlds, all bursting their panels. Occasionally with others, but mostly alone and chomping on his Roi-Tan stogie, King Kirby created, among others, The Human Torch, Sub-Mariner, Spiderman, Silver Surfer, The Hulk, Dr. Strange, Sgt. Fury, and Capt. Victory (forget Elasti-Girl and Negative Man). At Marvel, Lee shared bylines while tending to the marketing; Kirby created characters and dialogue. When the relationship seemed untenable, Jack moved to DC, Superman's home, where the characters lacked inner life. Despite their primary colors, the Marvel heroes Kirby created had flaws, doubts, and personalities . . . With Kirby's passing, [this book can] be read as a tale of the twilight of some of yesterday's superheroes as they are recreated in the movies. [This book presents a] chronicle of people, who, bit by bit, 64 pages for a dime, influenced our culture greatly."—Kirkus Reviews

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