November 15, 2003

Stan Lee and His Bipolar Comic Books


Freidrich at offers a compelling insight into the "tri-polar" nature of some of America's greatest superheroes. In his precise of "Stan Lee and the Rise and Fall of the American Comic Book," he notes:

The collaborative nature of the development of new superhero comics is well illustrated in the case of Spider-Man. According to Raphael and Spurgeon:

"In early 1962, Stan Lee expressed the desire to do a teenage superhero using the spider motif. Jack Kirby had long wanted to do an insect-related superhero…With Lee’s input, Kirby began to craft an introductory tale, rejecting some of the more fantastic Lee story elements, grounding the character in a domestic situation featuring a kindly aunt and uncle, and giving the superhero a secret origin revolving around a neighbor who happened to be a scientist. At Lee’s request, the character was turned over to Steve Ditko who, working from a synopsis and Kirby’s pages, produced an inspired visual take on the character that drove its story for decades—bottle-thick glasses, slumped shoulders, and a homemade costume."

In short, many of the most memorable and human aspects of Spider-Man were actually contributions by Kirby and Ditko. In fact, the 'hybrid' nature of the Marvel comics of the early 1960s led to their most aesthetically distinct feature: Stan Lee's wisecracking dialogue floating over far more serious and, in some cases, even somber art. The tension successfully conveys something of the spirit of being a teenager, but I'm not sure a single 'auteur' could have captured it.

"Something of the spirit?" We'd say that a wisecrack floating on top of a somber spirit is the very essence of a teenager. And it may have a lot to do with the success of Spiderman.

Posted by Vanderleun at November 15, 2003 8:02 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Stupidly written.

Posted by: at July 20, 2008 9:37 PM