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Stan Lee (Hardback)

How Marvel Changed The World

Hobbies & Lifestyle > Biography P&S History > Social History

By Adrian Mackinder
Imprint: White Owl
Pages: 192
Illustrations: 32 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781526771346
Published: 8th April 2021


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Stan Lee is not just another biography. It is a journey through twentieth century American history, seen through the life of a man who personifies the American Dream.

This book shows how Stan’s life reflects the evolution of American entertainment, society and popular culture throughout the 1900s and beyond. Along the way, bold questions will be asked. Was Stan Lee himself a superhuman creation, just a mask to protect his true, more complicated secret identity? Just like the vibrant panels of the comics he wrote, Stan’s life, it seems, is never black and white.

Sourced from Stan’s own words, this book also includes brand new and exclusive interviews with Marvel comic book creators, for whom Stan’s work proved an invaluable inspiration. Upbeat, accessible and fun, this book is told with a glint in the eye and a flair for the theatrical that would make Stan proud.

This is a bold celebration of the power of storytelling and a fitting tribute to Stan Lee’s enduring legacy. Excelsior!

I really enjoyed learning more about Stan lee. This was well written and easy to read.

NetGalley, Shelly Myers

I love marvel and always enjoyed Stan Lee's cameos. When I saw this book I just wanted to know more about him and how marvel came to be what it is today.
This book covers his life, his career and his vision. Which is something you can see as you are progressing through the book. It's an interesting read with information I hadn't known before.
I would highly recommend this book if you are a marvel fan and want to know more about the man behind it.

For the Love of Books

I found this to be a well-balanced biography of a man who had a great impact on the world of comics, entertainment, and cinema in the 20th and early 21st century.

This biography looks not only at Stan Lee's life, but also at the history of Marvel and DC comics, as well as the broader socio-cultural context in which they thrived. Lee is often seen as being some sort of super genius, existing in a vacuum, and this biography doesn't fall into that trap. It presents Stan Lee as a man in his time, with both positive and negative qualities, existing alongside other people who had just as much of an impact of the development of superhero comics as him. Mackinder presents other viewpoints and opinions to key moments in Stan Lee's story, providing the reader with a more balanced view of what happened, even when the objective 'truth' will forever remain out of our reach.

Overall I thought this was a well researched, easy to read biography... a fascinating read.

NetGalley, Ana Marsh

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This was a great biography on Stan Lee, it had information that I hadn't heard before. The author did a great job in telling a story and keeping me invested in reading it.

NetGalley, Kay McLeer

This book was fascinating and eye opening to a world of Stan Lee that I hadn’t known existed, despite being a huge marvel fan for years.

It was so comprehensive and would make the perfect gift for a Stan Lee/Marvel fan.

NetGalley, Sara Ann Hope

I really enjoyed this look at Stan Lee's life and history, including the development of Marvel Comics and its rival DC Comics. It was fun to read about the history of those early Action comics, Crime comics, etc. and how those grew into multi-million dollar operations. And I loved learning Stan Lee's birth name was Stan Leiber.

NetGalley, Jenny Hallyburton

This is a fascinating biography. It is full of in-depth information and is told with warmth and candour. It would make a great present for that Marvel-loving person in your life.

Read the full review here

Blackberry Garden

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Written by an unabashed fan of the Marvel Universe both printed and filmed, this biography is an honest but loving look at the man who, more than anyone else, was at the heart of this world. He was a man who could be simple and complex at the same time. He had a driving force that at times steamrollered over his co-creators but he could also be generous and kind. In the dichotomy that was Stan Lee one thing never wavered- his passion and his vision for what would change the world of comics.

You would not need to be a fan of Marvel to enjoy the story of his life, filled with ups and downs. No matter how far down he went, he could bounce back. It makes some of the problems he had at the end of his life even more tragic. But he should be remembered for what he achieved. He took the superhero and made him human with all the angst and issues of regular folk. He put witty dialogue into their mouths and he made something that once had been for children only into something young and old alike could love.

While he did not invent any remarkable life saving drug or solve the problems of the world, he did something equally fine. He entertained. “Nuff said.”.

NetGalley, Susan Johnston

Stan Lee: How Marvel Changed the World is the history lesson I didn't know I needed. Enjoyable, thought-provoking and just a damn good read. If you're a fan of comics, this has become a must-read book. Just know that this is more a history of Marvel than it is Stan Lee, although really they both go hand in hand. Marvel is where it's at because of Stan.

Read the full review here

Comic Book News UK

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I still remember picking up my first Avengers comic book in a WHSmith’s store in Hounslow as I was waiting for M&S to finish their delivery of packed bread to come on to the shop floor on a Saturday afternoon and that is how I got into comics Marvel, DC, Warhammer, Vertigo to loaning them out of my local libraries, lounging through Forbidden Planet - https://forbiddenplanet.com/ looking at X-Men, Deadpool, Avengers, and other Marvel Comics to even missing the chance of meeting Stan Lee at London Film & Comic-Con.

Everyone remembers the Marvel legend from his cameo’s in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) but no one knew his life before Marvel Comics directly from Excelsior himself, which also includes a list of artists he has worked with such as Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko. Thank you so much Netgalley for sharing this biography of a legend. To everyone including you all Marvel fans out there please do check this book out.

NetGalley, Vishal Shah

Adrian Mackinder's book examines the question - Who is Stan Lee -- the enigmatic yet larger-than-life persona who shows up in Marvel movies like cameos by Alfred Hitchcock. Did Stan Lee get more credit for the Marvel empire than was deserved? What I liked about this book, is it allowed for multiple explanations and gave Stan Lee credit while also highlighting other key people who were overlooked or left Marvel disenchanted, who helped build Marvel through the years. He starts with Stan's origin story like any superhero story and this was helpful as a foundation. He ends with some of the scandal and lawsuits up to the time of Stan's death at age 96.

I appreciated the author's cheeky asides which brought levity to this subject. This is not your typical biography and as a reader of many biographies, I appreciated a different approach. as many biographies start to feel very dry and formulaic -- which this was not.

I am a more recent fan of Marvel (I collected comics as a kid) -- which he talks about like the Beanie Baby Craze. We had pristine copies in wrappers that ended up losing value. I more recently became a huge fan of MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) with my son and always looked forward to the aforementioned cameo by Stan in each of the movies.

Definitely an enjoyable read! I recommend this book.

NetGalley, Ann Manikas

Stan Lee: How Marvel Changed the World, by Adrian Mackinder, was a pleasant surprise for me. I was afraid this was going to be another sensationalized account of Lee's life and career. While the things that get sensationalized are unavoidable Mackinder treats them as part of both Lee's and Marvel's stories rather than as the focus of the book. All of which is to say that this biography does as well of a job of contextualizing both stories with respect to each other and to the society in which they came of age.

If you're not too familiar with Lee's life I would recommend this biography before reading most other treatments. I found this to be both balanced and fair while also not sugar-coating any less than positive aspects. If you have read some accounts of either Lee's life or the Marvel story, I would suggest that this will serve to help put things in a more balanced perspective. By that, I mean that many other books and even articles emphasize either an outsized talent or a controlling self-serving personality. Mackinder doesn't ignore either talent or personality but gives the reader more context to understand and appreciate what went on.

NetGalley, Jack Messer

I came to this book not really knowing a lot about Stan Lee or the Marvel franchise, but I have watched many of the films as I have two sons who are mad Marvel fans. Rather than the films, the book tends to be about Stan Lee, his life, character, and influences throughout his life. It also looks strongly at the growth of the Marvel franchise from the early comic books all the way up to the films. He seemed to me to be a remarkable man who has worked hard to get where he did with a bit of good luck along the way. But we all need luck and make our own luck in life too. Along with working hard, what the book showed was that you need to be your own champion or self-publicist and this is where I would say he created a lot of own luck, in a very harsh or competitive business especially when you think they are going up against the DC world too. A really good book, well written, and credit to the author Adrian Mackinder. A man I’ve enjoyed reading about, and an enjoyment to learn about the life he led. A certain recommendation from myself.

Read the full review here

UK Historian

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

While it is ostensibly a biography of Stan Lee, this book can also be seen as a biography of sorts for Marvel Comics from its earliest days as a pulp publisher to its current existence as a multimedia empire and dominant player in the entertainment industry.

I have read at least one other Stan Lee biography, so a lot of the biographical material about him wasn’t new to me. One thing that did stick out though, was that during World War II he was assigned to the Signal Corp, the group assigned with writing scripts for and producing training films and writing and designing posters and training manuals. Besides Lee, there were only eight other men in the entire military who had the same occupational specialty classification – they included Oscar-winning director Frank Capra, Pulitzer Prize winning playwright William Saroyan, the screenwriters who eventually went on the create Charlies’ Angels, cartoonist and creator of The Addams Family Charles Addams, and Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel. Many of these same people spent much of their time working in the same location in Astoria, New York. After reading this, I’m still wondering how nobody has made a movie about this yet. The last half of the book spent much more time examining the many trials and triumphs of Marvel as they experienced bankruptcy and failed television/film efforts in the 1990s on their way to creating the Marvel Cinematic Universe of today.

I gave Stan Lee five stars on Goodreads. The book points out that much of what we know about Stan Lee came from Stan Lee himself, and others who worked with him (i.e. Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko) told versions of various events that differed greatly from Lee’s version. This book was honest enough to point out those differences and examine both sides of those issues.

NetGalley, Chris Owens

The Stan Lee as shown in Stan Lee: How Marvel Changed The World by Adrian Mackinder is as complex, interesting and retconned as most of the characters Stan created in his 70 plus years as the center of the Marvel Universe. What truly comes across in any biography of the Marvel Master is that the role of Stan Lee was the greatest origin story he ever created. Always bigger, brighter, and stronger than anyone around him. Not that he was a bad man, but a man who demanded the most from himself, even if it cost him professional and personal relationships to fall to the wayside.

This is a good overview, not too in depth, and not with the sadness that seemed to underlie Abraham Reisman's True Believer biography. The stories are there, but so is the fact that Stan brought so much joy and happiness with his stories, not matter who created what or designed who. I am a proud Marvel Zombie from when I first began to read and enjoyed this book, especially the overview of the comic market from Stan Lee's start to career and life end. Stan Lee might not have been the man he portrayed, but I owe him many thanks for the for what he had a hand in creating.

NetGalley, Dan O'Leary

For me Stan Lee's been this always smiling funny old dude making brief cameos in Marvel inspired comicbook movies. I knew he was one of the creators of the most well-known Marvel superheroes, but that was it.

I picked up this book to learn more about this interesting man. And I was not disappointed. If anything I learned more than I expected. About the comicbook publishing industry, its history and the importance of self-promotion..

If you're Stan Lee's stan and comicbooks are your obsession, this book might not be for you because you probably won't learn anything new. But if you're someone like me, a casual MCU fan who once in a blue moon reads a comicbook, you'll most find it an informative and satisfying read.

NetGalley, Zuzana Bicikova

This is a highly readable account of Stan Lee's involvement in the rise of comic books in the 20th century to superhero movies in the 21st century. Stan Lee lived from 1922 to 2018, carving out a highly visible role in comic book mythology. I am casually interested in Marvel and Stan Lee. The various heroes have been part of pop culture throughout my life. In other words, I'm not a trivia expert, a collector, a die-hard-see every movie person. I recommend this as a really interesting overview of the various industry giants, how artists were treated, how the industry evolved, and why Marvel (as of now) has triumphed in movies produced since 2008. If you have already read a lot on the topic, I would still recommend this as a fairly concise and interesting read. It gathers a lot of information without being boring.

NetGalley, Emily Leader

In his prologue, Mackinder set out "to expose the man behind the mask" and he does this fantastically in this engaging read. Mackinder suggested that "Stan Lee" a creation of his outward self, and that the real man with the intensely private alter ego was Stanley Lieber. This suggests, that perhaps Lee is like a Marvel superhero himself. Nuff said.

NetGalley, Gill Jacob

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Being an avid Marvel fan I couldn't wait to get stuck into this & it didn't disappoint. Fantastic book about the legend & creator of the comics & movies Stan Lee.

NetGalley, Stacey Hammond

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

As far as the world of comics goes, Stan Lee was probably the most important person to have ever lived. Born to a Romanian-Jewish family in New York in 1922, young Stanley Lieber became involved in the world of comics early. An office boy in the 1930s, by the end of a frustrating 1950s, Lee came close to quitting the world of comics forever until his Newcastle-born British wife suggested he create a new crop of comic superheroes to challenge the near monopoly then enjoyed by Superman and Batman creators, D.C. In a remarkably short space of time, Lee created Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, Iron Man, The X-Men and The Avengers essentially establishing Marvel as the incredibly profitable global media powerhouse that it remains to this day. Happy ever after?
Well, no. Partly because, as Adrian Mackinder explains, the extent to which Lee can really claim complete credit for creating all these amazing characters remains hotly disputed. This is not a hagiography and while Lee was careful to cultivate a loveable avuncular image amongst Marvel's armies of 'True Believers,' Mackinder, though clearly a big fan himself, does not shy away from exploring the less desirable elements of Lee's character.
In short, Mackinder not only does a commendable job of detailing the highs, lows, creative explosions, fallings out and film cameos which made up Lee's almost 96 years on Earth but also does a commendable job of explaining the cultural context in which they occurred. In addition to Lee's life, we also learn a lot not only about the history of Marvel comics, but also get much on how vaudeville declined in the teeth of competition from radio and cinema in the 1920s and 1930s and much of interest about ALL comic adaptations on TV and film over the decades, not just the Marvel ones. It is easy to forget, despite the renaissance in comic book based films in the 21st century,, just how many flops there also were (Daredevil, Elektra, Ghost Rider, to name but a few).
I must admit: I have sometimes written about the history of comics myself. But ultimately, I must put aside any feelings of professional jealousy and concede: Adrian Mackinder really has done an exceptional job here.
Nuff said.

NetGalley, Chris Hallam

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I'm not a fan of MCU movies, I find a lot of their plots leave me absolutely cold. I really like comics though, and more than that, I like books that are about the origin stories of those comics-most of them have fascinating backstories. 'The amazing adventures of Kavalier and Clay', for instance, is a book I absolutely love for its fictional setting in the Gold Age of comics. This was a fascinating non-fictional account, tracing not just Stan Lee, but the context he started in, right from the Golden Age of comics, and the origins of DC Comics, apart from Stan Lee's illustrious co-creators, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko. Stan Lee has been accused of overstating his role in the creation of Marvel's iconic characters, and this book attempts o present an objective view, with competing perspectives. For a work as collaborative as a comic, that requires an entire team to bring it to life, assigning credit is very difficult-a writer might have the idea, but is his contribution more valuable than the artist's, who actually brings it to life, and adds in his contributions as well? The obvious solution is to list all the contributors, but Stan Lee seems to have been the only one who realized the importance of getting your name on a byline! It's not a hagiographical account by any means, but it's not entirely cynical either-Stan Lee played a part in the foundations of a comic empire that to this day holds sway over the imaginations of millions. Stan Lee seems to have worked tirelessly to promote ( also self-promote) Marvel, going on the lecture circuit and fan conventions long before they were huge showcase events, all contributing to his myth as founding father. I really liked the book for focussing on the comic book business, and how Marvel has sustained as a company, and as a medium of entertainment, despite the competing avenues of entertainment coming up every generation: radio, television, the Internet-people are still buying and reading comics. It's not always been smooth sailing for Marvel, but they've managed to sustain through multiple changes of ownership and even bankruptcy at one point Stan Lee, however, has always been retained as an employee and 'The Face of Marvel' ( I'm not entirely sure how he managed to stay so relevant well into the 21st Century).
As i said, I may not like most of the cinematic output of Marvel ( apart from Sam Raimi's Spiderman and Black Panther) , it's astonishing to see how popular the movies are, given that they're just tweaked a bit from comics written nearly 4 decades ago. This is a fun, insightful read into a cultural behemoth, and I would recommend it even for people who aren't comics fans.

NetGalley, Vansa David

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is a fascinating read that takes you through the birth of Marvel and interweaves its story with others like DC. The author obviously has a great interest in the genre.
The book shows the development of Marvel its problems along the way and how Stan Lee made himself the face of the comic.
This really is a great read if you are into the genre or not.

NetGalley, Tony Stephens

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I definitely found this a compelling read. It isn't a traditional biography perhaps. I would say at least two-thirds of the book focuses on MARVEL--those who worked there, the characters created both heroes and villains, the story arcs, etc--and Marvel's place within the world. It seeks to provide not only an origin story for Stan Lee himself (Stanley Martin Lieber), but to provide an origin story for COMIC BOOKS and their place in publishing history. It is hard to imagine a world without super heroes--whether Marvel or DC.

I didn't find it dry. As I mentioned earlier, I found it compelling. I wouldn't be surprised if some chapters held more interest than others for readers. But overall, I do like this one! I learned so much!

NetGalley, Becky Laney

About Adrian Mackinder

Adrian Mackinder is a writer and performer. He has twenty years’ freelance experience scribbling for just about everyone, from The Guardian, British Government and the BBC to Cartoon Network, LEGO and The Beano.
Adrian is also a professional improviser, actor and comedian. Head Writer at Comedy Central UK for five years, he has performed live on stage in the UK, US and mainland Europe. Adrian lives with his family in Copenhagen where he struggles daily with being an Englishman abroad.

Born on this day - Stan Lee

28th December 1922

Lee was for many decades Marvel Comics' primary creative leader, and he was responsible for transforming the company from a small family-run business to a creative and publishing empire responsible for some of the most famous comics and characters of all time.

Died on this day - Stan Lee

12th November 2018

Lee was for many decades Marvel Comics' primary creative leader, and he was responsible for transforming the company from a small family-run business to a creative and publishing empire responsible for some of the most famous comics and characters of all time.

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