I received this book as a gift from a nifty friend of mine, who is also a comicbook fan. I had organized “SPOILERS” on May 4, 2013, and he gave me this book to celebrate it (here’s some blog posts about SPOILERS – 1, 2, 3). I’ve been a Marvel “Zombie” since I was a child and this book was a great read, showing lots of what was going on behind the scenes on the comics that formed the basis of my reading in grade-school, high-school, and college.
The biggest thing I learned from this book was simple – even heroes are human. What made Marvel comicbooks so innovative in the 1960s was the “humanity” of their heroes – they bickered, got jealous, cried, laughed, loved, worried, and pondered. This was a new idea for “heroes”, after all, weren’t our heroes supposed to be infallible and “perfect”? As it turns out, what made Marvel heroes so exciting is that they weren’t perfect – readers could more easily empathize with these heroes – and that sold many, many comicbooks.
To take that idea even further, this book reminded me that my heroes – Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, John Romita, Stan Lee, John Buscema, Steve Gerber, Chris Claremont, John Byrne, and so many others –the creators of the super-heroes – are only human, too. They struggle, argue, can be petty, can feel hurt, can feel silly and joyous. I was reminded of that great quote – “be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Even your heroes are trying to get by, to make a living, to feel fulfilled, to pay a mortgage and support a family.
This book covers the whole history of Marvel, from the 1940s to the 2000s, but pays special attention to the 60s and 70s (which was good for me, as those were the eras I was least familiar with, and where lots of my favorite creators were just starting out).
the cruise boat had passed;
the bridge slowly descended
to its normal place