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The one book that has destroyed my childhood reminiscing, brilliant read but behind the pages of stories are fantastic tales of wonder, my jaw dropped at certain parts ( certain creators hanging around new York , dropping acid and writing of the experiences) and laugh out loud at others ( Stan lees wig) so much to read with quotes given sources, I'm on my 3rd reread and still finding things I've missed, I'm gonna download the narration next. I've not looked at a marvel comic the same since reading this but I'm rereading some that are mentioned by issue number and seeing them in the context this marvelous book mentioned
Genius! If you have any interest at all in the creative or business end of the comic book industry over the past fifty years, then you need to read this book. The general Marvel narrative is well-known: desperate publisher allows experimentation, genius artist and wisecracking huckster create a new paradigm, the Sixties pop art revolution, College kids become the new audience, the original band splits up due to creative (and financial) differences, the Seventies cultural revolution, underdog becomes overdog, creators robbed of their rightful rewards etc etc etc.
And that's all here, of course- but there is so much more to the story. Carefully researched, generally impartial, willing to speculate, this is enormously entertaining, and full of new insights. A joy to read. Helped by Howe's witty prose, this is a delight, full of laugh out loud moments and clear explanation of very complex situations.
Here's a test for you- Howe's description of longtime Marvel bad guys AIM: "shady industrialists outfitted like futuristic beekeepers". If you laughed with recognition at that description- this is the book for you! Buy now! If you love comics, you will love this! If you don't- you might like it anyway! Excelsior, pilgrims!
Got this off Amazon before Xmas and read it in one sitting (almost).
If you're on Facebook, I highly recommend author Sean Howe's dedicated page on this book as it contains an awful lot of visual information sadly not present in this fine volume (Jack Kirby's 1958 future cityscape illustration on this FB page is astonishing; Moebius who?).
Anyhoo, as an 'elderly' fanboy myself, I'm well aware of the history of Marvel Comics; even in Scotland, we've heard the alleged tale of a certain Marvel artist who beat up a fellow artist mate of his who wouldn't hand over the money he'd made for filling in a couple of issues said artist couldn't make the deadline on but it's good to have this oral history of Marvel Comics all confirmed in print, more or less.
For younger comic book fans, this book is a terrific read and I highly recommend it. I'd certainly never heard of David Bowie's ex-wife Angie having such a particular interest/involvement in the Black Widow character so that piece of trivia alone made it worth purchasing.
Author Howe's analysis of Marvel's editorial philosophy is spot on (ditto for same regarding the subtext found in Editor in chief Jim Shooter's own writing on the Avengers, for example) not to mention the business related ups & downs over the decades (no wonder Stan Lee mostly sat that stuff out).
Since this book is only available via Forbidden Planet and Amazon (or the odd charity shop), you'll not find it in any high street bookstores.
Unlike a number of recent books highlighting the histories of comic books and their creators, Sean Howe's 'Marvel Comics The Untold History' not only gives a truly independent view of this comic company's complex and fascinating past, it is also thankfully free of the unnecessary hyperbole and that has tainted other histories of the industry.
From Marvel’s very beginnings through to its recent acquisition by the Disney Corporation, Howe succeeds in skillfully highlighting every significant event that has shaped its development, drawing upon fascinating and revealing anecdotes from all the significant players along the way.
Whether you’re a fan of comic books or simply interested in discovering how radically business in the US has changed over the past seventy or so years, 'Marvel Comics The Untold History' should be considered an essential purchase. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.
The book is a revelation about the trials and tribulations of the writers and especially the artists at Marvel Comics. It reveals the shocking way in which the publishers treated the artists, as disposable commodities. One is staggered by the boardroom machinations and corporate take overs but especially by the total lack of respect shown to the working staff by the executives; they live up he old cliche of knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing. They showed no interest whatsoever in the products they owned; just pieces on a capitalist chessboard. Even I am shocked. The image I had when I read these comics in my youth of riotous but fun workplace belied the actual situation of tension, rivalry and the hyper- sensitive natures of the artists.
This is an intriguing and very entertaining account of the politics, business machinations and behind the scenes goings on in the Mighty Marvel Bullpen.
The early sixties at Marvel were quite an extraordinary period of creativity- dozens of heroes, villains and iconic images poured out of their offices. Sean Howe tells the history of these times and pulls no punches in revealing the conflicts under the surface. He follows through on the evolution of Marvel to the present day detailing key plotlines, stories and characters (real and imagined).
Having been a fan for fifty years I found this account riveting and very well written. At times it is depressing reading with more arguments over royalties and credits than I ever thought possible. I would have liked a little more on the creative aspects of Marvel- however that is a minor quibble with an excellent book.
I wonder if there is any chance of one on DC and even something on the contribution of British comics?
Just puts into context what the great Jack 'KING; Kirby had to put up with
Stan Lee is no angel after reading this (my opinion) probably only doing his job and keeping employed. A fascinating background on the original Timely Comics later to become Marvel.
I do like the Marvel Movies, shame the original creators got nothing from the company they helped build. Yes I know artists and writers were work for hire, but it seems unfair that they were ignored by Marvel.
A very thorough and totally engaging study of the company that became a cultural phenomenon.
My own initial interest was in the so-called Bronze Age period - the period when my interest in, and enthusiasm for Marvel Comics was a big part of my life. But Sean Rowe's account is so painstaking, so well-researched that he enthralls us from the outset - way back in the early part of the Twentieth Century, all the way to the present.
I confess I found the book near-"unputdownable", and loved reading about the labyrinthine office politics and colourful personalities who have shaped the direction and output of this truly remarkable company throughout it's chequered history. It has led me to a renewed interest in the work of many of its writers and artists.
You'll notice my non-American spellings. I'm from Ireland. The impact of Marvel stretched across the world, enhancing the childhoods and indeed adulthoods of it's myriad fans, far beyond Madison Avenue.
In this book, the 'inside story' finds a worthy chronicler - Mr. Rowe has done a remarkable job of holding this intricate narrative together, and he writes beautifully. I look forward to re-reading it soon. There's plenty to chew on.
I bought this on the off chance as a gift for my husband as he is a fan of Marvel graphic novels and films. He loved it. It had information about Stan Lee he wasn't already aware of and he found it to be a thoroughly interesting and enjoyable read.
For anyone who read marvel comics as a kid, this is a guilty pleasure. The later chapters about marvel's bankruptcy in the 90s and various going ons behind the scences are delightfully bitchy and gossipy. There is a lot of information provided and it is written in a simple straightforward easy to read style. However, if you never read the comics or are not a fan of the current Marvel movies, you may be left wondering what the fuss is about.