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Publisher's Summary

Throughout this decades-long journey to becoming a multibillion-dollar enterprise, Marvel's identity has continually shifted, careening between scrappy underdog and corporate behemoth. As the company has weathered Wall Street machinations, Hollywood failures, and the collapse of the comic book market, its characters have been passed along among generations of editors, artists, and writers - also known as the celebrated Marvel "Bullpen". Entrusted to carry on tradition, Marvel's contributors - impoverished child prodigies, hallucinating peaceniks, and mercenary careerists among them - struggled with commercial mandates, a fickle audience, and, over matters of credit and control, one another.

For the first time, Marvel Comics reveals the outsized personalities behind the scenes, including Martin Goodman, the self-made publisher who forayed into comics after a get-rich-quick tip in 1939; Stan Lee, the energetic editor who would shepherd the company through thick and thin for decades; and Jack Kirby, the World War II veteran who'd co-created Captain America in 1940 and, 20 years later, developed with Lee the bulk of the company's marquee characters in a three-year frenzy of creativity that would be the grounds for future legal battles and endless debates.

Drawing on more than 100 original interviews with Marvel insiders then and now, Marvel Comics is a story of fertile imaginations, lifelong friendships, action-packed fistfights, reformed criminals, unlikely alliances, and third-act betrayals - a narrative of one of the most extraordinary, beloved, and beleaguered pop-cultural entities in America's history.

©2012 Sean Howe (P)2012 HarperCollinsPublishers

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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Performance

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Eye-opening and disenchanting

This book could have the subtitle The Shit Storm You Never Knew Was Happening and If You Pay Attention You Will Never Be Mad at a Single Comics Creator or Editor Again. I learned so much I had no idea about, but I came away a little depressed. The book is fricking fantastic in its research and detail, but I'm not entirely sure I'm happy I read it.

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Interesting and disheartening

Great narration. Well-written. A must for comic book fans, aspiring professionals, freelancers, and veterans of the industry. This book gives you the ultimate inside scoop on the ever-growing complexities of an already difficult-to-navigate business. As part of a family who I consider as "creatives," it's truly an eye-opener how young this industry still is. The dust has yet to settle. I highly recommend this book to everyone trying to break in to the industry.

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I'm curious what the creators think...

I took this book with on a business conference/golf outing and found myself looking for time alone to listen to it.
It was fun to hear more about people I've only known as names in comic book credits. There is plenty in these 18 hours that I didn't know at all, some good , some bad. The first half, after a brief recap of Marvel before 1960, talks about the Marvel age and the people behind it. Lots of interesting personalities there. You have your shirt sleeves and tie crowd and your dope smoking, acid dropping witch crowd working on the books almost side by side. It must have been interesting days to say the least.
The first half of the be book covers the stories and characters, giving attention to the people who wrote and drew them. Once Marvel becomes a corporate entity the focus shifts to more boardroom decisions and it becomes more dry. Less attention is given to the creators until we arrive at the Liefeld/McFarlane period (and you learn what a couple of morons they truly are).
My only beef with this reading is how the reader is allowed to mispronounce some of the names. The producers could have easily name checked these. It didn't ruin anything, just seemed amateurish.
I'm curious to hear what the creators would have to say about the accuracy of this book.

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A warts and all look behind the story

I only had read the comics as a kid and never heard any of the real behind the scenes stuff that wasn't funneled through the marvel pr machine. Super interesting read

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Incredibly detailed. Fascinating. Must read for all Comic Book fans

This book had an astonishing level of behind the scenes detail. Listen as the history of Marvel unfolds from the first Timely heroes to the birth of Spider-Man, the Hulk, etc, all the way to the acquisition by Disney.

The character creations, major comic events, movie developments, and creator dramas are all explained in great detail.

I'm a FAR more knowledgeable comics fan now than when I began listening. I only wish their was a DC companion volume, I would begin listening to that one immediately too!!

Highly recommended

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listened to it 4x now, It's a great listen

everybody need to listen to this at least once, It's phenomenal. don't be intimidated by the length

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A great history for a Marvel fan

This is a very informative and fascinating history for longtime readers of Marvel Comics. From the editorial and publishing side, it explains a lot. As a reader who was often baffled at publishing decisions, I now know why.

Unfortunately, the focus on writers and artists extends to only a handful of the most influential people through the 1960's to the 1980's. Some of the more prominent writers in the last 20 years are hardly mentioned at all. Perhaps that would require a second book devoted to the creators rather than the company.

If you are a Marvel enthusiast, this is well worth your time.

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"Human? What can that word mean to me?" - Silver Surfer

When I selected this book I thought I was getting a creative tales of amazing writers and artist creating some of the most fantastic fictional characters ever. Instead, it was a story of a rainy day that lasted from 1939 to the present. It is a chronological story of each writer and artist coming to Marvel comics with hope of a promising career only to be overworked, underpaid, an told by money hungry corporate owners how to steer their art. Spoiler alert: eventually, almost every artist that started at Marvel ends up at DC. It's a fascinating story, but as a comic book lover, I feel nothing but pity for most of the creators I admire. I recommend it, but not if you are looking for a pick-me-up! This is simply a story of human nature and the terrible things we do to each other for money.

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Balanced and fair account of Marvel Comics.

Great info, doesn't seem to take sides, and gives a seemingly straight forward account of the history of Marvel Comics. I would have liked a bit more on the Golden Age era of the company but ultimately was fascinated by every bit of info on publisher Martin Goodman, and early creators like Joe Simon, Jack Kirby, Carl Burgos, Bill Everett, and a young Stan Lee. The depth of information about the silver and modern ages is staggering and seems to mention every prominent creator to step through Marvel's doors. The narrator of the book was terrific and well suited for the material. A must listen for ANY Comic book fan.

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Make Mine MARVEL: THE UNTOLD STORY!

A great, detailed overview for both Casual & Non-Casual Fans Of The Comic Book Medium.