Few– if any– comic book creators have attained the legendary, almost godlike, status in the public’s mind as Marvel co-creator Stan “The Man” Lee. The man with the golden touch and an undisputed gift of gab remains a visible and active part of the comics industry nearly five decades after he flipped the world of comic book super heroes on its head with his melodramatic Fantastic Four, the first costumed crime fighters who seemed to actually have distinct, realistic personalities. And as public a figure as he is and as much as has been written about him, The Man is finally sitting down to pen a memoir… but as per usual, don’t expect the usual.
Indie artist Colleen Doran, from the highly praised series ‘A Distant Soil,’ broke the news via her website that she was collaborating with Lee on his autobiography, which is being rendered in graphic novel format. “I was surprised and thrilled that Stan wanted me on this project,” Doran expressed. “It is drawn in a cartoonier style than I normally use, and it is quite fun. Wish I could show you some, but can’t.”
In the past, Doran has collaborated with Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, Anne Rice, J. Michael Straczynski, Joe R. Lansdale and Tori Amos among others.
Also joining Lee on this project is veteran comic writer Peter David, notable for his work on ‘The Incredible Hulk,’ ‘X-Factor,’ ‘Aquaman,’ ‘Supergirl,’ ‘Fallen Angel’ and more. His style, while dramatic at times, tends to include lots of lighter moments and even downright comedy, which should be a good match for what is likely to be a more uplifting story.
A comic book veteran even by the early 1960s, Stan Lee was assigned the task of creating a super hero team book to rival DC’s successful ‘Justice League of America’– a project that Lee was not remotely interested in taking on. So to keep it interesting, Lee came upon the idea of creating heroes with actual, realistic personalities. Thus were born the stoic Reed Richards/Mister Fantastic, the cantankerous Ben Grimm/The Thing, the wise-cracking, hot-headed Johnny Storm/The Human Torch and the mothering Sue Storm/Invisible Girl. And it didn’t end there.
Lee, along with frequent collaborator artist Jack Kirby, adapted the Doctor Jeckyll/Mister Hyde (or werewolf) concept and created the archetypal Incredible Hulk, a brilliant scientist by day and a brutish, rampaging monster by night (later switched to whenever he got angry). The X-Men were a parable for the Civil Rights movement, which was in full swing at the time. These teen adventurers were born with their amazing powers, making them outcast to society.
And most famously, with artist Steve Ditko, Lee created the awkward school nerd Peter Parker, who was constantly harassed by popular jocks and dismissed by the ladies, who suddenly found himself blessed with superhuman powers after being bitten by a radioactive spider. But his pride results in the death of the only real father he’s ever known, his Uncle Ben, forcing Peter to realize that “With great power, there must also come great responsibility.” Thus was launched Marvel’s flagship hero Spider-Man, one of the most popular heroes in all of comics history.
Lee continues to develop new comic concepts apart from Marvel these days, but even if he never created another project, his existing contributions have immeasurably enriched comic book history. Had Lee not created his emotionally complex Marvel Universe, older readers would have most likely dropped comics entirely upon reaching adolescence and the format would have remained “for kids” and would have most likely died out by now. Imagine the cinematic landscape without movies based on The Avengers, Spider-Man and The X-Men, among others!
Lee’s hardcover autobiography, entitled ‘Amazing, Fantastic, Incredible: A Marvelous Memoir’, will be published by Simon & Schuster and will be available October 8th, 2015. It is currently available for pre-order in traditional format for $19.34 or in Kindle format for $14.99 on Amazon. Reserve your copy by clicking here.
Will you be picking this titanic tome up, True Believer?