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Excelsior! : The Amazing Life of Stan Lee Paperback – May 7, 2002

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone (May 7, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684873052
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684873053
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #102,842 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Lee, chief editor and writer of Marvel Comics during the 1960s, played a major role in the creation of prominent superheroes such as Spiderman, the X-Men, and the Fantastic Four. This autobiography recounts his beginnings in the comic book field in the 1940s, his frustration with his career as a comic book writer and editor until he created richer characters in the 1960s, and his success as a spokesman for Marvel Comics since the 1960s. Throughout, the persona Lee created never falters; the tone is warm, straight-talking, and simultaneously confident and insecure the same traits with which Lee imbued his superheroes. Lee has come under attack in recent years for overstating his contributions to the comic book field and for the failure of his Internet company, Stan Lee Media. This book offers something of a rebuttal, with Lee crediting his creative partners fully and portraying himself as a victim in his company's failure. With the success of Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, which traces the early days of the comic book industry, and the motion picture, Spider-Man, interest in the creation of the comic book industry has increased. We'll be seeing more books like Lee's. Purchase wherever patrons are fans of 1960s Marvel comics. Stephen Weiner, Maynard P.L., MA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


This long-awaited autobiography of an icon of the comic world coincides with the release of the spring's most eagerly anticipated blockbuster, Spider-Man. Stan Lee is the Marvel Comics supremo who created Spider-Man, X-Men and The Incredible Hulk. This fascinating memoir traces Lee's life from growing up in a modest New York Jewish family, and his first job as a gofer at Timely Comics. He was made creative director, enlisted when the war broke out, and was one of only eight US Army playwrights alongside such luminaries as Frank Capra. Lee went back to comics after the war as the creative force behind Marvel, selling over two billion comics the world over. Packed with previously unseen photos and artwork from Lee's personal archive, this will be essential reading for students of popular culture. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Stan Lee is a man who needs no introduction. Nevertheless: Having begun his career with wartime Timely Comics and staying the course throughout the Atlas era, Stan the Man made comic-book history with Fantastic Four #1, harbinger of a bold new perspective in story writing that endures to this day. With some of the industry's greatest artists, he introduced hero after hero in Incredible Hulk, Amazing Spider-Man, X-Men and more -- forming a shared universe for rival publishers to measure themselves against. After an almost literal lifetime of writing and editing, Lee entered new entertainment fields and earned Marvel one opportunity after another. He remains one of Marvel's best-known public representatives.

Customer Reviews

That being said, this book is soooo boring.
The Amazing Life of Stan Lee Stan Lee and George Mair C. Cho P. 5 This book is an autobiography of Stan Lee.
C. Cho
If you are a fan of the Marvel age, this book is a must read.
Barry Pearl

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on September 28, 2002
Format: Paperback
"Excelsior! The Amazing Life of Stan Lee" has a cover with Lee surrounded by some of his famous Marvel comics creations (or co-creations depending on where you stand on the whole Lee/Kirby debate), but you may be surprised and/or dismayed to find that only six of the twenty-one chapters are devoted to the glory years at Marvel. Much of what is contained within Lee has talked about before, which means that by now the stories of how the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, the X-Men and the rest came to be born have been refined and polished to the point you really wish he would provide more of the details. "Excelsior!" starts from Lee's childhood in Manhattan to those early days when he stumbled into writing comic books, his work as a "playwright" in World War II, and then through the rise of the Marvel empire and beyond.
The focus of the book is on the narrative recollections of Lee and if you have ever had an opportunity to hear Stan "The Man" Lee do a lecture or speak at a convention, then you are familiar with his conversational style (I liked it when Stan would pretend to be Clark Kent, take off his glasses and have people wondering where Clark went--plus, the man's autograph is always legible). One thing that struck me was how much Lee was affected by the Great Depression, especially since he often laments over the value of the comic books he created but never bothered to collect. Yet it is also clear that Lee is not driven by money but more by love of family and work, two subjects he talks about with equal passion. He does take pains to try and address the issues of his infamous rifts with artists Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, and whether you believe his side of the story or not he certainly bears no animosity towards either man.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Barry Pearl on May 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
4.5 stars, really, I wish there were more examples of his work.
I am one of those people who loved the Marvel Age of Comics. While many people say they read Spider-Man, the Hulk or the Fantastic Four, even as a kid in the sixties, I would say I read Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko...and a few others. When they left, I left.
Though the years I had heard about and read about many behind the scenes stories about Marvel. It was hard to give credence to many of them and I always wanted to find out Stan Lee's story. Here it is.
Here Stan Lee tells his story. And what an enjoyable story it is. Mr. Lee tells of his early years, his years in the service during WW2, how he meet his wife and how he started working for Martin Goodman, owner of Timely (later Marvel) Comics.
The major part of the story is the creation of the Marvel Age of Comics.
Stan Lee, born Stan Lieber, describes how he almost left the occupation of writing comic books. An occupation that was not well respected. But Stan stayed and broke the conventions of book characters. Stan discusses such stories, how he "snuck" his first Spider-Man story into Amazing Fantasy #15 after the publisher turned it down. We learn what was in his mind when he created the Fantastic Four, Hulk, and Thor.
For me the most important parts involved the Marvel Method of creating comics and his relationships with Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko. For years I have heard stories that, frankly, cast Mr. Lee in a bad light. Here, Stan Lee describes how he came up with the character of Spider-man and, at first, gave it to Jack Kirby to draw. Dissatisfied with Kirby's take, Stan turned it over to Steve Ditko. Stan goes out of his way to give co-creative credit to the artist.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Thanos6 on May 8, 2002
Format: Paperback
Stan Lee, the world's most well-known comic book writer, is truly one of the most inventive minds of the 20th century (and shows every sign of being so in the 21st!). And now, at last, we get a look into what shaped that inventive mind into the force it is today.
"Excelsior!" is peppered with Stan's trademark wit as he relates humorous stories and anecdotes from his life, such as the way he single-handedly won World War II. Sandwiched inbetween are factual paragraphs by George Mair, professional biographer. Mair is quick and to the point, knowing that what readers really want is more of Stan (it's almost impossible to refer to him by his last name), so he gets the facts out there and then he gets out of the way as fast as he can. Very professional.
This is a must-read for any comic book fan, anyone who wants to see how a "bio-autography" (as Stan calls them) should be written, or for anyone who's just looking for an amusing tale of a creative genius's life.
Highly recommended!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Rana Johal on July 20, 2010
Format: Paperback
I am an immigrant and when I came to the UK with my family way back in the early 1960s my love for reading and for the English language began with Marvel Comics and the work of Stan 'The Man' Lee. I learned to appreciate great writing, irony, alliteration, puns and Shakesperian references not just in the four-colour adventures of The Fantastic Four, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk etc. but also through Stan Lee's editorial pages and responses to readers' letters.

So I came to this semi-autobiography with a strong sense of expectation and I was not disappointed. What I found was the story of a man who had significant lessons to teach me about the hard work and habits that underlie success.

The book follows Stan Lee's life from his beginnings as the child of impoverished parents in Queens, New York City to his current standing as the Publisher Emeritus of Marvel Comics and the man overseeing the realisation of his superhero characters as among the most successful products in Hollywood.

The book is written in the easygoing and mildly self-ironic style that is typical of Stan Lee's work, but in amongst the witty asides and self-deprecatory humour there are some valuable lessons to be learned for even serious businessmen. The three things I learned most from this book are:

Be true to your vision
Stan Lee entered the filed of comic book writing almost by accident but found that it became a steady, if not always lucrative, source of income. However in the early 1960s he was on the verge of quitting the struggling comics industry when his wife Joan (a Brit!
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