The Stan Lee Story (Taschen)

Stan Lee Story

CREDIT: Taschen

Rating: 5/5 – A Lavish & Thorough Treatment of Stan’s Life & Career.
by ComicSpectrum EiC Bob Bretall.

I’ll be up-front with the fact that I loaned lots of comic books and related material to Taschen for them to photograph for inclusion in this book.  I was happy to do it as a life long Stan Lee fan.  My compensation for this was getting copies of both the limited edition book (that came out last November) as well as this new $200 edition that comes out July 25th, 2019.  That I got a comp copy does not affect my love for this book.  I’d have happily paid $200 for this because I am a HUGE Stan Lee fan.
It is available on the Taschen web-site, Amazon, and I’m sure in a few other places as well.
Written by Roy Thomas and designed by Josh Baker, it covers Stan’s childhood through to his later years doing cameos in the Marvel movies and acting as an elder statesman of comics. Roy takes care to give credit where credit is due to co-creators and this seems to be a very balanced and thorough biography of Stan with LOADS of pictures of people, documents (like the patent statement for “Marvel Comics”), comic books, toys, original art, movie stills, etc.  The text accompanying the pictures is informative, an easy read, and flows nicely from one topic to the next.
Stan Forward
To give an idea of everything covered, here are the chapters:
  • Stanley Martin Lieber (1922-1940)
  • Stan Lee’s Golden Age (1940-1949)
  • Atlas Hoists That Globe (1950-1961)
  • The Marvel Age of Comics (1961-1964)
  • An Expanding Universe (1964-1968)
  • Days of Destiny (1968-1972)
  • Stan Lee Presents (1972-1980)
  • Welcome to Hollywood (1980-1990)
  • The Notorious Nineties (1990-2000)
  • 21st Century Unlimited (2001-2018)
The book itself is massive, 12 inches by 17.5 inches and weighing in at over 15 pounds!  It comes in an illustrated cardboard protective box with a handle (like other Taschen books in this large format).
Since I have both the ultra expensive limited edition that sold out within days of its release as well as the new $200 version, I thought it would be good to offer up a comparison of the two.  All-in-all the $200 edition has pretty much everything that’s in the unattainable limited edition and given its size and production values seems to be a pretty decent deal for people who are fans of Stan Lee and his legacy.
The $200 version is PRETTY DARN NICE. It’s just as large as the limited edition, the main differences being:
In Memoriam
  • The limited edition is signed by Stan (probably among the last things he signed) on a vellum overlay page that is bound in next to the shot of him in the tuxedo at the beginning.  The $200 edition does not have the vellum overlay/signature and has added an “In Memoriam”
  • The limited edition came in a 1/4″ thick clear lucite slipcase with a circle cut out in the middle where Spider-Stan is (instead of the dustjacket on the $200 edition).  The $200 edition comes with the illustrated cardboard carrying case not present for the limited edition.
  • The limited edition came with a separate reproduction of Lee’s “Secrets Behind the Comics” booklet from 1947 (reproduced from my copy of that book)

    Chapter heading

  • At the beginning of every chapter there is a white sheet that looks typed overlayed on top of some art. In the limited edition those are actual separate pieces of paper that are adhered to the book along their top edge (so you can lift them and see the art underneath).

    Selected comics

  • In 13 places: For example page 43 where you see the little Mystic Comics image at the top of the page, page 139 where you see the little “Day in the life of the FF” splash page from FF #11 at the top, etc. Basically anyplace you similarly see a little comic on the top of a right hand page with a description of it).
    In the limited edition, a reproduction of that comic is bound into the book along its left edge right there.

    In the $200 edition you get these reproductions all at the end (after chapter 10) on the giant-sized pages that make up this book. Arguably, this is even cooler than “same size” reprints on pulp paper in the limited edition.

The design of the book is awesome in the limited edition.  Having all the reproductions bound in make it look very unique.  However, even without these, all the information is still there in the $200 edition and the layout and flow of material, including the curation of some really spectacular items to visually highlight the points Roy is making in his text, makes this a must-read for “Stan Fans”.

Stan on Stool

$200 seems like quite a lot, but look at it this way:  a 22 page comic book is $4, which means you can get 50 comics for $200.  That would be roughly 1100 pages of comics.  This book is 624 pages, each of which is 4 times the size of a comic book page.  I guarantee this will take at least as much time (probably more) than it will take to read 50 comics.  On a page for page, pound for pound, and hour for hour basis this book delivers more entertainment to Stan Fans on all counts, so the price tag seems downright reasonable to me.


Reviewed by: Bob Bretall
) By Fans who Love Comics For Fans who Love Comics

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