4.5 stars, really, I wish there were more examples of his work.
I am one of those people who loved the Marvel Age of Comics. While many people say they read Spider-Man, the Hulk or the Fantastic Four, even as a kid in the sixties, I would say I read Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko...and a few others. When they left, I left.
Though the years I had heard about and read about many behind the scenes stories about Marvel. It was hard to give credence to many of them and I always wanted to find out Stan Lee's story. Here it is.
Here Stan Lee tells his story. And what an enjoyable story it is. Mr. Lee tells of his early years, his years in the service during WW2, how he meet his wife and how he started working for Martin Goodman, owner of Timely (later Marvel) Comics.
The major part of the story is the creation of the Marvel Age of Comics.
Stan Lee, born Stan Lieber, describes how he almost left the occupation of writing comic books. An occupation that was not well respected. But Stan stayed and broke the conventions of book characters. Stan discusses such stories, how he "snuck" his first Spider-Man story into Amazing Fantasy #15 after the publisher turned it down. We learn what was in his mind when he created the Fantastic Four, Hulk, and Thor.
For me the most important parts involved the Marvel Method of creating comics and his relationships with Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko. For years I have heard stories that, frankly, cast Mr. Lee in a bad light. Here, Stan Lee describes how he came up with the character of Spider-man and, at first, gave it to Jack Kirby to draw. Dissatisfied with Kirby's take, Stan turned it over to Steve Ditko. Stan goes out of his way to give co-creative credit to the artist. But Ditko though that Stan just came up with an idea and that he, Ditko, came up with project. I also learned that Jack Kirby was offered administrative positions at Marvel, but turned it down.
A reality to me is that nothing Lee, Kirby and Ditko produced separately equals what they did in partnership for those ten years.
If you are a fan of the Marvel age, this book is a must read. I couldn't put it down. The parts that are not about Marvel are still entertaining and Mr. Lee does not dwell on anything for too long a time.