Troy’s Book Club: Maya Angelou and Stan Lee

Two books to briefly write up: Maya Angelou’s “Wouldn’t Take Nothing For My Journey Now” and the compendium of “Just Imagine: Stan Lee Creating the DC Universe”. Both were interesting reads as they were each authors that I was well-acquainted with as personalities, but hadn’t read much of their books before.

Maya Angelou, was a modern Renaissance woman – spending her 50+ year career writing (poetry, memoirs, and scripts for plays, movies, and TV), dancing, and being an activist. While her name is usually associated with “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings”, her first of seven memoirs, “Wouldn’t Take…” was written later in her years. It’s an easy read, filled with 2-4 page short essays on various thoughts and ideas she’s come up with over the years – relating her “wisdom of the ages.” It was a fun way to be introduced to her and to get a sense of who she was. What an amazing woman!

Stan Lee, is one of the biggest personalities associated with Modern American comicbooks. He shares credit for creating many of most famous Marvel comicbook characters in the late 1950s/1960s – Spider-man, the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk, and many others. It has been quite awhile since he was a regular writer on any book, and “Just Imagine…” was an interesting project that threw him back into the role of comicbook writer. Stan has >always< been associated with Marvel Comics, but for this project, he was writing DC Comics’ characters! Marvel and DC are consider “The Big Two” of comics, so to see Stan re-create iconic DC characters was pretty fun. What made it particularly interesting is that Stan was paired up, mostly, with modern artists, but his writing style still had his classic 1960s flavor. Made for some very interesting comicbook stories. For instance, Batman, we all know, is Bruce Wayne, a millionaire whose parents were murdered when he was a child. Stan’s Batman is a black man framed for a murder he didn’t commit, who serves his time, becomes an all-star wrestler, and eventually a night-time vigilante! So, I won’t say the writing was “great”, but it was pretty fun, and it was really neat to see what Stan’s scripting is like and how various artists interpreted his ideas. Good stuff!

If you’d like to read these books, too, check them out from the Milwaukee Public Library, or find them at Boswell Books – Maya, Stan!

Oh yeah, and over a year ago, I read a neat book by Nick Hornby, where he talked about a really great biography of Charles Dickens. I’ve gotten that book now, too, and added it to my read-pile! It’s a ways down the list, but I WILL get to it! 🙂


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