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True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee (English Edition) eBook Kindle
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--Este texto se refere à edição hardcover.
Trecho. © Reimpressão autorizada. Todos os direitos reservados
What It Takes
We cannot know for certain whether Sofie and Zanfir Solomon saw the celebrity when he returned, but we may presume they got word of his arrival soon enough. It was the bitter winter of 1899 and the couple were in their mid-thirties, married for sixteen years and raising a growing nest of children. Their home county, Vaslui, was a sparsely populated chunk of land in eastern Romania, containing just over 110,000 people, roughly 6,800 of them Jews like the Solomons, all of them struggling through a devastating recession. But even in the long, bleak nights, there was cause for excitement in the local Jewish community: The prodigal son was on his way.
“For months before, if you had put your ear to the ground, you might have heard the distant rumble of his approach, and Vaslui held not only its ear to the ground, but its breath,” wrote Marcus Eli Ravage, a Vasluiander of the Solomons’ era. “On the street, in the market, at the synagogue, we kept asking one another the one question, ‘When will he arrive?’ ” At last, the long-anticipated landsman rode a midnight train into town, and on his finely tailored frock coat lay the scarcely visible dust of a place the Solomons may have heard of but could barely imagine; a place where the laws of the Old World didn’t apply (perhaps even the laws of physics—given that it was on the other side of the world, it was said that people walked upside down there); a place where a Jew could be whatever he saw fit to be. “I had heard of people going to Vienna and Germany and Paris, and even to England for business or pleasure, but no one, to my knowledge, had ever gone to America of his own free will,” Ravage continued. And yet here was one of their own, back from fourteen years in what they called “Nev-York,” decked out in finery such as they’d never seen.
“The streets were lined with craning, round-eyed, tiptoeing Vasluianders, open-mouthed peasants, and gay-attired holiday visitors from neighboring towns who, having heard of the glory that had come to Vaslui, had driven in in their ox-carts and dog-carts to partake of it,” Ravage recalled. Perhaps Zanfir and Sofie and their nine-year-old daughter, Celia, were among the rubberneckers; if so, they would have been astounded by the man’s diamonds, his capacity to rattle off words in the alien tongue of English, and his trunkful of presents: “There were railways that were wound up like clocks and ran around in their tracks like real trains, and dancing negroes, and squawking dolls, and jews’-harps, and scores of other delights for the palate as well as the fancy,” Ravage reported. The returnee said he was working for the American government in a high post and, though he maintained a humble demeanor, he alluded to a significant fortune. Surely the Solomons heard tell of what happened when the man went to synagogue on Saturday: He received the honor of an aliyah—an opportunity to recite a blessing alongside the holy scrolls of the Torah—which came with the obligation to make a donation, and instead of the customary three or four francs, the man calmly offered 125 of them. “From that day on,” wrote Ravage, “Vaslui became a changed town.” Suddenly, it seemed like everyone had the notion to pack up and leave.
But wait. Was it true that, as one local with information from overseas said, the man was wildly exaggerating his success? Sure. Did Ravage later find out that this revered individual—whom he nicknamed Couza, a Romanian word denoting royalty—was actually a mere foreman in a bedspring factory, his wife a dressmaker, and his palatial New York estate just a fraction of a flat? Of course. Did any of that matter? Not one jot. “There was a country somewhere beyond the seas where a man was a man in spite of his religion and his origin,” mused Ravage. “Even if the informer were right, and Couza were a sham, America surely was no sham.” Perhaps we are to take the story as allegory; either way, the point stood: In the new Jerusalem they called the United States, you could make it just fine as a bullshitter.
Sofie and Zanfir begat Celia. Celia and a man named Jack Lieber begat Stanley. Less famously, Celia and Jack also begat Larry, and that was it for their begetting. Stanley, as it turned out, sort of begat himself—he invented a character to play named Stan Lee and never got around to being Stanley again. The character is well known to myriad people in America and around the globe: a jovial, energetic man with a pedigree in comic books, bearing tinted glasses and a white mustache, bounding through the world with a gusto for life and community, spouting catchphrases (“Face front!” “’Nuff said!” “Excelsior!”) and winning the affections of both the young and the young at heart. But as the sun set on the year 2018, Stan was dead and Larry was the only living human who remembered what it was like before.
Before Spider-Man, before the Avengers, before the X-Men, before the Fantastic Four. Before Marvel Comics, before Atlas Comics, before Timely Comics. Before Stan Lee Media, before POW Entertainment, before those two companies were accused of defrauding their investors and prompting their employees to commit a menu of felonies. Before the movie cameos, before the mobile games, before the webisodes, before the straight-to-DVD movies that no one seemed to see. Before Stripperella, before the second coming of Stripperella. Before the elder-abuse allegations, before the sexual-assault allegations, before the 911 calls, before the comics signed in blood. Before the lawsuits, before the arrests, before the Supreme Court, before the guilty pleas. Before Jack Kirby, before Steve Ditko, before Peter Paul, before the Clintons (yes, those Clintons), before Gill Champion, before Jerry Olivarez, before Keya Morgan. Before Joan, before Jan, before JC. Before the name “Stan Lee” was trademarked, before it was signed away, before it was signed away again, before people started fighting over it like jackals at a bloodied wildebeest. Before everything was built, before it all fell apart. Before anything, there was Larry.
And after everything, there was still Larry. It had been forty-five days since Stan died just shy of age ninety-six. Larry, eighty-seven, sat on a beige couch in a breadbox-size studio apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, pants hiked up past his belly button and a green button-down covering his withered chest. The scene around Larry’s place was chaotic: papers piled atop a disused drawing board, boxes of miscellany lying haphazardly on the floor, a priceless personal sketch from the creators of Captain America yellowing in a cheap frame, a bedroom pillow bungee-corded to a computer chair for ergonomic purposes, pictures of dead women he once loved adorning nondescript shelving units. His goatee scraggled its way across the lower part of his face, and his eyes were mournful behind Coke-bottle lenses. He sighed.
“He had different sides to him,” Larry said of his late brother in the near-extinct New York Jewish accent the two of them had shared. “I feel like I’m almost talking about Charles Foster Kane. Who was he? What was he? What was he like?” Larry paused and pondered his own questions. His answer was simple, though entirely accurate: “It depends on who you talk to at what moment.”
By way of example, you could fast-forward a few weeks to a massive Stan Lee tribute show held at the famed Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. There, thousands of admirers waited in line to flash their tickets—the cheapest of them cost $150—and be admitted into the auditorium to see various entertainment professionals who knew or looked up to Stan talk about his impact on their lives. Outside, a fan mused on why he’d come. “I felt it was the best way to honor and celebrate the life of Stan Lee,” he said, “who in many ways shaped and formed the person I am today with all the comics and creations he made.” Another called Stan “the Mark Twain of Marvel” and said he belonged on a “Mount Rushmore of comic books.” Yet another said, “He’s an icon. You can’t beat Stan the Man. You can’t take that legacy away.” One well-wisher had driven all the way from Las Vegas, and with understandable cause: “For me, Stan Lee was actually pretty close to a father figure,” he said, “just because of growing up with his comics and everything. That’s how I learned a lot of my morality and got to connect on a deeper level with other people. I had a single mom, so it was nice to have a male person to look up to that I didn’t have in the household.” They waxed rhapsodic about his narratives, his interactions with fans, and his plentiful appearances in dozens upon dozens of superhero movies, where he’d pop in to offer wisdom or comic relief, often both at the same time. To these people, Stan had been an inspiration, something close to a god. --Este texto se refere à edição hardcover.
Detalhes do produto
- ASIN : B08478JWYG
- Editora : Crown (16 fevereiro 2021)
- Idioma : Inglês
- Tamanho do arquivo : 27469 KB
- Leitura de texto : Habilitado
- Leitor de tela : Compatível
- Configuração de fonte : Habilitado
- X-Ray : Habilitado
- Dicas de vocabulário : Habilitado
- Número de páginas : 373 páginas
- Ranking dos mais vendidos: Nº 306,383 em Loja Kindle (Conheça o Top 100 na categoria Loja Kindle)
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Stan is looking resolute and determined on the cover, and the image could be interpreted in several ways, but it is one of the few where he isn’t cheerful. But the late Stan Lee had a lot to smile about. He was about to quit comics, approaching middle age and unfulfilled, when in the space of a few months, he and Jack Kirby had created a mythology uniquely American and to rival the traditional heroes of myth (some of whom, such as Thor and Hercules, joined his own in the Marvel Universe). He had become a major figure of the 20th century with a fantastic and worthy legacy. And, of course, a target for the bitter and less accomplished.
Am I biased? Maybe. After all, I judge him, if he needs to be judged, by his work, his achievements, his talent, his reputation. I don’t feel the need to constantly doubt him, look for his failings (which were much the same as all of us), or try to bring him down. Along with Hanna-Barbera, pre-1968 DC Comics, Gerry Anderson, the Man from UNCLE, and Irwin Allen, he provided the joys and pleasures of my childhood. Other lads worshipped footballers or pop stars, I revelled in Marvel Comics. Without them, my life would have been considerably duller, my days less exciting, my youth less inspired. As with many young men without a father, he provided me with fun and a moral compass. I’ve been promising myself for years that I would take time out to sit down and properly re-read the Silver Age Marvels from start to finish, and lockdown and the Epic Collections provided the perfect opportunity. They have helped to keep me sane through the evil past few months. My life has been bookended by Marvel Comics, and I feel great about it.
Was Stan Lee a saint? No, of course not. He was extrovert, gregarious, a perfectionist, very much aware of his and Marvel’s public image, commercially minded and cautious, the consummate promoter and PR man. His poor memory was legendary. His flaws and attributes were those which many of us can lay claim to. Was I taken in by his jovial huckstering as a kid? No, I loved it, and succumbed to the Marvel myth-making willingly.
This book is titled “The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee”, which is odd, because he never really fell. Despite a handful of failed projects, bad business ventures, and occasional creative missteps, he was a success until the end of his days, if only—only!!—because of Marvel Comics and the Marvel movies, two of the most enormous contributions to popular culture ever made. After years of struggling through TV shows that ditched the elements that made the comics a success, cartoon shows, and B-movies (although I enjoyed the 1990 Captain America film, and so did many of my acquaintances), he had finally got where he wanted to be. He had made his point and been proven right, and he was worth a fortune. If this is failing, or falling, what does success look like?
It’s true his trusting nature and gung-ho let’s-do-it energy and attitude got him into some shady dealings toward the end of his life, as the book reveals, and he became particularly vulnerable when he lost his beloved and protective wife. It’s true his last couple of years were not happy or healthy, but that’s going to be true for most of us, and he lived to his mid-nineties. The last time I “saw” him, he was on an IMDB interview at a film market, sitting in glorious sunshine, eagerly talking about his next project (I’m 64, and pretty much done!). The thing I couldn’t help but notice was that his leg was jiggling up and down, not from old age or infirmity, but enthusiasm for whatever it was he putting together! I wish I could still get that excited about something!
These sort of books always appear when the subject has passed, so Stan can’t answer back, complain about the tone, or sue. But he wasn’t that way inclined anyway. He did his best to patch things up with Jack Kirby, and was aware (and far too tolerant) of the Kirby revisionists, the fan element that tried to do him down and minimise his contribution, but he also knew what he had achieved, and lived to see it. Like all of us, he had his missteps, misfires, and misjudgements, but he had enough successes, and got enough right, to be proud of what he had achieved, enabled, and unleashed on popular culture. He gave Kirby, Ditko, Colan, Steranko, Smith and Adams their career highs. He gave lesser talents as much work as he could. He said yes more often than he said no. The positives outweighed the negatives, and he left this world justified. I never met him, but I know Stan was one of the good guys, one of the nicest and most decent guys who ever lived, because I’ve read numerous interviews with him, and every Marvel comic he ever wrote; therein lies his personality and character, his morality. To read Stan Lee is to know Stan Lee. I worry about the gullible ‘true believers’ who may take all this in… (“Gee, I never knew…!”).
It becomes painfully apparent from the first time the author mentions Marvel comics and states that the Fantastic Four “hated each other” that he’s barely read a single one. If he once did, he’s forgotten it, or never got it. He’s thumbed through a copy of Fantastic Four 48, the only time in the book Stan’s actual work is discussed or described. He mentions Captain America saying something to a ‘friend’, seemingly unaware it’s Nick Fury. And he claims Jack never got his writing gig on a solo Inhumans strip as promised, but he did, in Amazing Adventures, and it only ended because he left. One might argue that he shouldn’t have to wade through ten years of Marvel comics to write a bio on Stan, but if you’re going to indulge the ‘Jack Kirby did it all’ line as early as page 13, you really should have some background knowledge of the work. If you want to know the personality of a writer, you read his words.
The author is a very clever and accomplished writer. Everything he writes about Stan is in a questioning, did-it-really-happen-this-way tone, and he uses negative words as often as possible; to give just one example, Stan’s windows looked out onto a brick wall in childhood, so he ‘boasted’ about the expansive view from his home in later life. We don’t hear that he was ‘thrilled’ to finally have a view, or appreciated his good fortune, or that he happily overcame that early disappointment when he finally became wealthy. No, when he showed off the view, he ‘boasted’. There is a nasty tone throughout the book which will become glaringly obvious to objective readers, but appeal to, and reinforce the views of those who want to believe the worst.
I’ve covered the Kirby nonsense in my reviews of the Morrow and Scioli books in great detail, as well as in several debates now lost when Amazon casually erased years of comments from their review section, and I’ve stated without reservation my view that Kirby was the best and most important comic book artist of the 20th century in numerous Amazon reviews, so I can’t go through it all over again for fear of sounding like a broken vinyl record caught on a scratch. Although Riesman relates the story that Stan may have snitched on Simon and Kirby moonlighting for DC, he has the decency to at least mention that Simon thought it unlikely (“There were no secrets… everybody knew”). The volatile Kirby however, already irritated by the young Stan’s adolescent nature (he was still in his teens when they first met), was quick to believe the worst, and believed it up to the day he died. For Riesman, “this is crucial”. Even when quoting people who sing Lee’s praises, the author seems not to hear his own text. It seems to count for nothing. All Stan’s quotes and stories are assumed first of all to be lies… even the ones that in his next sentence, Riesman admits are probably not. And the book proceeds like this from slow start to weary finish. At least Riesman, unlike his predecessors, has the grace to query and question the late Jack Kirby’s version of events. Riesman seems to be genuinely trying to be fair in the Lee/Kirby dispute (far more objective than Morrow or Scioli in their Kirby books), and notes that Kirby’s memory was as faulty as Stan’s. His chronology of events was wildly out of synch, making many of his assertions obvious fabrications or misremembered, and—a bit of fanboy pedantry here—he quotes “Kurrgo” as one of the many monsters of the 1950s sci-fi mags; he was in fact a character from an early Fantastic Four story.
The one thing that Stan was always noticeably coy about was that Martin Goodman was his uncle, and gave him his job at Timely—which is silly, because anyone who knows anything about Marvel knows about this family connection, and nepotism is rife in media; Timely was full of family. But when Stan told of his early years, it was always the tiny but significant detail he left out. He never denied it, but he never mentioned it either. And yet, Goodman made no significant contribution to Marvel beyond initially asking Stan for a super-hero book, other than the negative one of insisting on single issue stories for the whole of 1970, a disastrous request that was gradually disregarded. However, Lee thought well of him generally, and is quoted at length from Excelsior on page 57 unreservedly talking him up. After which, Riesman draws the conclusion that Stan thought he was “pathetic”! Later in the book, Stan is apparently more critical of him, but I find it hard to believe that Stan called anyone ‘a moron’ in public, he was way too tactful, respectful, and media-savvy for that, and in the notes, the author admits he doesn’t have memory or verification for Stan’s exact words. I genuinely believe that the author has tried to be fair and objective with this book, but also that he has approached the subject with a low opinion of Stan before he started, which is unfortunate and unfair. There is no new information in this book (the single exception for me being the Power Rangers story, which I hadn’t heard before), but as comedians like to point out, it’s the way you tell ‘em. Faced with this glum realisation, there is little point taking issue with anything else in the text (most of the really contentious anecdotes are eventually contradicted or doubted by the author himself or justified or denied by other interviewees), simply to say that this is strictly for the anti-Stan brigade, who will be waving its faulty logic and strange conclusions under our noses for years to come, despite the fact that when you strip it all down, there’s nothing here. Stan was basically an okay guy, and a very poor candidate for a tell-all expose.
Avaliado no Reino Unido em 21 de fevereiro de 2021
This book doesn’t change that overall view, but despite this it does help to reinforce just how important Stan was to the creation and ethos of Marvel and the Marvel Method.
A complex and flawed character but an integral part of the very foundations of the comic book industry in the 60’s and beyond.
His final years were very sad to and the shameful way he was exploited by a variety of unscrupulous business associates is terrible to read about.
Overall a great read particularly in locating the historical background of the lives of the Jewish immigrants who came to the USA in search of a better life and whose children helped to change the face of American and Global culture forever.