2014 Book Goal: 52 (mostly non-fiction)
2014 Books Read: 20 (80% non-fiction)
Marvel Comics: The Untold Story by Sean Howe is one part fan-boy historical record and one part in-depth expose on what happens when idealistic creators face the reality of bottom-line business. As you know, Marvel Comics has come out as the 800lb gorilla in the comic book world and an even larger force in the movie industry.
Throughout the growing pains, backstabbing and creative explosions both good and bad, Stan Lee came through smiling all the way to the bank… at least, until he was no longer needed in the company. This book tells of the backroom deals, the hurt feelings, lawsuits and hardball business moves that led sometimes haphazardly to Marvel’s journey from underdog start-up to the Big Brother of the comic book industry.
I listened to the unabridged audiobook and at 18 hours… it was a huge investment. It seemed to go fast because I grew up with Marvel comics and really enjoyed the transitions between boardroom maneuvers and tales of developing storylines on the heroes of my day. The amazing thing is how successful the company was despite some real bonehead moves with editorial content and business investments.
The single smartest thing they did was to license their properties and that allowed them to afford some serious mistakes in other areas (like investing in the trading card industry to the tune of $150 million just as it was on its last leg.)
I really enjoyed the book, or as Stan Lee might say, “Excelsior!”