A Marvelous Life: The Amazing Story of Stan Lee, by Danny Fingeroth

joeypajamas's review against another edition

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An absolutely wonderful telling of a hugely inspirational man, this is one of the best biographies of Stan Lee I've read (and I've read a few). The majority of the book (rightly) focuses on the hey day of Lee, Kirby and Ditko's time at Marvel, roughly 1940-60.

Some things I feel are brushed over a little too quickly and I would have liked to know about what Lee was doing outside of Marvel from the 2000s on with Stan Lee Media and POW!, but then I guess I'm a hardcore fan of Lee's and more general fans may not find that stuff as interesting. After all, he is famous for his Marvel work.

Still, this is a wonderful recount of Stan's life, told with much love and respect, but not afraid to bring up some of the more controversial parts of his life.

Well worth a read for any fan of Marvel or comics in general.

innie's review against another edition

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25 pages in and I knew this book wasn’t for me. The first two chapters Just glossed over Stan’s early life, focusing more on the comics and the impact he would have through that but not who he was as a person. He was poor growing up and the only way the author could say that was through saying his family had moved around a lot, always living in the rear side of the building facing a brick wall. It felt repetitive from the little I read and the writing was all over the place with so many quotes it felt lazy.

liantener's review against another edition

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Entre las muchas biografías que hay de Stan Lee me decidí por leer esta última. Me gustó el hecho de que Fingeroth tomase en cuenta las otras existentes, y que se diera el tiempo de investigar y hasta hablar con quienes conocieron a Lee, y no sólo se basara en su opinión personal habiendo conocido y trabajado para él.
Me gustó que no sólo hablase de la historia de Lee, sino también de la historia de los comics, de las editoriales y de la situación social en Estados Unidos, porque ayuda mucho a entender el impacto y los porqués de la fama que alcanzó Stan con su trabajo.
Fingeroth dedica mucho tiempo a reflexionar sobre esto, sobre cómo un hombre como Stan, que tenía muchas cualidades similares a otros escritores y dibujantes de su tiempom, alcanzó tanta fama y afectó tanto a la cultura popular. Si bien, esto último hace que por momentos el libro se devié demasiado y sea hasta repetitivo, pero se perdona por la pasión con la Fingeroth habla.
Me ayudó mucho a entender sobre las polémicas que hay, aún hoy en día, sobre la autoría de los super-héroes, y sobre el papel que jugó Stan en todo ello.
Es una lástima que todo su trabajo de los 60's esté super descrito al detalle, y su labor de los 80's en adelante apenas si se mencione ... quizá porque en esa época muy pocos de sus proyectos funcionaron y se dedicó más a explotar su fama.
Si ya leyeron alguna biografía de Stan quizá puedan saltarse esta, de lo contrario, puede ser un excelente punto de partida. Yo la disfruté bastante por el tono tan respetuoso, pero a la vez objetivo, con el que Fingerith habla de la leyenda de quien fuese su jefe, amigo y acompañante de ferias del comics por muchos años.

c_s_lytal's review against another edition

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This was an interesting biography. I went in knowing almost nothing about Stan Lee’s personal life, and I enjoyed the journey I was taken on. It was a revealing look inside the comics industry of the 20th century, and although the author seems almost apologetic to make the claim, he illustrates that Lee was only human. With a few notable exceptions it felt like a balanced look at the life of someone who clearly meant a great deal to the author. One of those exceptions was how carefully worded some passages about artists trying to unionize were phrased so as not to implicate Lee in preventing that from happening (or at least that was my understanding, but I was reading between the lines here), and the other was that in his later life, some of Lee’s home care nurses came forward with stories of abuse. According to the author, “Lee stated he would fight the claims, and they seem to have evaporated.” I understand if there was not a lot of information for the author to elaborate on, but I feel like this could have been phrased less dismissively. All in all, this was an engaging, lively biography of one of 20th century’s pop culture giants.

iestynx's review

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informative medium-paced


Interesting to know the history, but this book wasn't written for me. Unlike Easy Riders and Raging Bulls, I found this hard to pay attention to and to keep track of who's who and where we were in the timeline. If you're really into the comics and want to get deep into the nitty gritty of how life was at the office, then this is for you. 

reading_and_wheeling's review

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A Marvelous Life by Danny Fingeroth is the biography of Stan Lee of Marvel Comics. I will admit that I have minimal knowledge of comic books, other than when I read them as a kid in the early 90s. This biography is richly detailed about not only the life of Stan Lee, but it also serves as the biography of Marvel Comics, who employed Mr. Lee from age 17 until his passing.

We first learn of Stan Lee's (born Stanley Leiber) childhood growing up poor in New York City. Working odd jobs to support his family, once he became old enough to work, as his father had difficulties finding employment. As was often the case in immigrant families during the depression era, Lee was hired to work for a publisher owned by a family member as a favor. This is where the story really takes off.

From here on out we are immersed in the up and down world of comic books and learn a great deal about the business. For example, I found the behind the scenes stories of how some of the most well known and beloved characters were created quite interesting.

The author does a great job of holding the readers' interest in relating a lot of facts while mixing in anecdotes about Lee and the many people he worked with. Mr. Lee was definitely a pioneer in comics by realizing that it wasn't just kids reading comics, there were adults who were reading them too. He also made superheroes more human, with imperfections and real emotions. Thereby making them more relatable to readers.

Just like the heroes he created, he had flaws too, and the author does not shy away from the controversies over co-creators feeling they were not given enough credit by Stan Lee and Marvel for the parts they played in these creating these characters. The author gives both sides to the story in these cases and how they were resolved.

The book shows that despite these controversies, that Mr. Lee was charming, charismatic, and highly regarded among his co-workers, friends, and family. It is said that he would instruct his personal assistants to interrupt anything he was doing, no matter how important, if his wife, Joan were to call.

If you're a fan of comics, Marvel, or Stan Lee, you should give this book a read! My thanks to St. Martin's Press, Danny Fingeroth, and NetGalley for gifting me a copy of this e-book in exchange for my honest review.

readandwright's review against another edition

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I am an adopted Marvel fan, as my fiance is a HUGE lover of the comics and movies. I’ve accepted them as a part of my life and he was thrilled when I received this book. As someone who didn’t know a lot about Stan Lee, I found a great appreciation for the man through this book. It’s written by a friend of Lee’s who were a part of each others’ lives for 40 years. It’s a little dry at points, but I think all Marvel fans will appreciate it!

deearr's review

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---> {60-second video review here}

In an alcove on the way up to the second floor of my house there are boxes of bagged and boarded comic books, many of them Marvel. Most of these are titles from the 1960’s, like The Fantastic Four, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Uncanny X-Men, Daredevil, etc. Smilin’ Stan Lee was a friend I invited into my house every time another Marvel comic book was published.

Reading this book – for me – was like visiting old friends. I recognized all the names of the artists and letterers, and it was a treat to hear author Danny Fingeroth fill in the background to stories I only partially knew.

This book, however, is not just for those of us who were fortunate enough to enjoy Stan Lee back when all the memorable characters were created. There are people alive today that have never seen any of the old comic books yet are binge-watching Daredevil or enthralled with the Black Panther movie. Stan Lee was a genius, and this book celebrates the ups and downs of his life in a way that allows one to feel as if you were there.

Mr. Fingeroth holds nothing back, and all the conversations and debates on who created what character are included. He also includes the frustrations Stan Lee experienced as well as the triumphs. For almost 50 years, Stan Lee was the face of Marvel comics, and that’s never going to change. I agree with Todd McFarlane, who said that in 20 years we will realize that Stan Lee was an even bigger influence than we thought he was. This book will explain why. Excelsior! Five stars.

My thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for an advance complimentary ebook of this title.