Marvel Comics: The Untold Story offers a chronological look at the history of the multibillion-dollar comics company and an inside look at the people who created the characters America has grown to love. The book is based on more than 100 interviews with writers, artists and others from inside Marvel. It follows the company from the beginning, through Hollywood blockbusters and big screen bombs, and even through the collapse of the comic book market. It turns out Marvel was begin as a get-rich-quick scheme in 1939, and has grown in the decades since from an unknown underdog to a huge corporation.
This book is really about the editors, artists and writers who made up the Marvel team over the years, often called the Marvel Bullpen. It pits the creative minds against the corporate leadership that tried to control them, arguing for credit and control. Most of the creative team was low-paid, and got little credit for creating Spider-Man, Iron Man, Wolverine, Captain America and many other household names for generations of comics fans.
Stan Lee and Jack Kirby are just two of the members of the Bullpen who are profiled. Lee led the Marvel team for decades, proving to be a steadfast leader and a competent writer and editor in the best and the worst years of Marvel's history. A less well-known name today, Kirby was one of the company's most prolific creative minds. He created Captain America in 1940, fought in World War II, and then returned to create most of Marvel's marquee characters over a three-year period in the 1960s.
Author Sean Howe has written about the entertainment industry for Spin, the Village Voice, New York and the Los Angeles Times. He previously served as an editor at Entertainment Weekly. Marvel Comics, published in 2012, is his first book.
An unvarnished, unauthorized, behind-the-scenes account of one of the most dominant pop cultural forces in contemporary America.
Operating out of a tiny office on Madison Avenue in the early 1960s, a struggling company called Marvel Comics presented a cast of brightly costumed characters distinguished by smart banter and compellingly human flaws. Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, Captain America, the Incredible Hulk, the Avengers, Iron Man, Thor, the X-Men, Daredevil—these superheroes quickly won children's hearts and sparked the imaginations of pop artists, public intellectuals, and campus radicals. Over the course of a half century, Marvel's epic universe would become the most elaborate fictional narrative in history and serve as a modern American mythology for millions of readers.
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, twenty 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 one hundred 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. Download and start listening now!