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War Rocket Ajax #146: Sean Howe And ‘Marvel Comics: The Untold Story’

This week on War Rocket Ajax, we welcome Sean Howe to the show to talk about his amazing history of the people and the company behind some of our favorite characters, Marvel Comics: The Untold Story. It’s a great book, and in our discussion, Sean talks about defending Stan Lee, the conversations he had with various creators, and his brief correspondence with Steve Ditko (pictured above) — and you can listen to the whole show right here at ComicsAlliance!War Rocket Ajax #146: Regard, SD with Sean Howe
(WARNING: Contains NSFW language)

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In this week’s episode Chris is back to talking about pro wrestling after a depressing and lonely trip to a TNA Impact house show, while Matt is fighting ailments of a more physical nature and reading one-star reviews of his book on Amazon. It’s cheerier than it sounds, we promise, especially when the topic turns to Outkast.

When Sean Howe joins us, we talk about our complicated feelings for Stan Lee:

I find all of these guys in this book, not only very sympathetic, but I do sometimes feel like I find them quite a bit more sympathetic than people tell me they come away from the book finding them, which sometimes worries me a little bit.

I’ve read so many reviews that talk about how I just ripped Stan Lee apart, and I don’t even feel like he’s a bad guy at all. I definitely retained my warm feelings for Stan Lee through all of this. I’d love to read this book and experience it as a reader. I hope some of that compassion and admiration came through. I was just reading a piece in the New Republic that went up today, and it talks about how my book definitely tells the story of how Stan Lee grabbed all the credit, and I obviously think of Stan Lee as a guy who has his flaws. He obviously gets the lion’s share of credit, but in this small community of people who are into comics, I also feel like he doesn’t get enough credit. People look at Jack Kirby as the messiah, and Stan Lee as the guy who just took everything away from Jack Kirby.

Working on the book definitely opened up my mind to the idea that Jack Kirby did, not just more than people think, but way more than people think. You can’t look at Jack Kirby’s pages with his margin notes and not realize just how much he was running the show at times. But also, I think that there’s a real risk in taking away from Stan Lee what he did as an editor, and what he brought to the dialogue, and what he did as a talent scout, and what he did as Stan Lee, The Public Face of Marvel, which is often used to just denigrate him. It’s a huge part of Marvel’s success, and it’s a huge part of why superhero comics, for better or for worse, stayed around.

Plus, find out his answer to a simple question from Chris: Vince Colletta: Hero or Villain?

Show Notes:

Check Sean Howe out on Twitter and find supplemental material for his book on Tumblr! Marvel Comics: The Untold Story is available in bookstores everywhere and on Amazon, and is highly recommended.

See the letter from Steve Ditko without the title of our show on it.

Chris’s Rec: Paper Mario: Sticker Star

Matt’s Rec: Dredd

Comics Reviewed:

Fearless Defenders #1: “If I have one complaint about this book, it’s that the art is a little cheesecakey at times… but I really like the comic.”

New Avengers #3: “This book goes to a weird place.” “Even by Jonathan Hickman standards.”

All-New X-Men #7: “This is really a book about Cyclops.” “Well that’s what I want to read.” “I think it’s an interesting premise, but it’s also a premise that’s stretched out so much. Essentially, everything that happens in this issue is: Cyclops meets Mystique, they talk, and we find out that Mystique has plans other than what she expressed.”

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