Monday, March 17, 2008

Spurgeon on Stan Lee: Conversations

Title: Stan Lee: Conversations
Creator: Jeff McLaughlin
Publishing Information: University Press of Mississippi, softcover, 244 pages, 2007, $20
Ordering Numbers: 1578069858 (ISBN10)

This book kind of slipped out last year to almost no press within comics, and despite what seems like a steep price I'd say it's must-read for those interested in comics history. Unlike some other interview collections, Lee was interviewed in a variety of places that range wildly in terms of the subject matter and approach. Perhaps unique among comics interview subjects, Lee's role as a popularizer of Marvel Comics makes his interviews important in ways that other people's aren't. Not only can you read the comics for clues as to Marvel's history, not only can you read them for insight into Lee, and not only can you read them for the astute one-liners which usually sprinkle any historical interview collection (for instance, Lee notes more than 25 years ago that other-media adaptations of Marvel's work have almost no real impact on the publishing projects themselves), you can also use them to trace Lee's efforts to go anywhere he was being paid to go and a few places he wasn't in order to spread the Marvel (and Stan Lee) gospel. In that light, the derision he faced on an early Dick Cavett show (believe me, it's even worse on the tape) becomes just as important as the discussion of 1960s Marvel hirings and firings he has with Roy Thomas in 1998. I'm not sure what I'd make of this book as a purchase, but I know that if it had been available at my high school's library, I would have checked it out for an entire month of study halls, and been much more informed for it.


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