Robert Kirkman‘s six-part documentary series Secret History of Comics, first screened in 2017, debuts on comes to Sky History UK from Monday 19th July – but there are a couple of new books on US comic’s out there, including one focusing on Marvel’s Stan Lee, which you may want to check out, too.
Hosted by Walking Dead co-creator Robert Kirkman, this six-part series takes a deeper look into the amazing stories, people and events that have transformed the world of American comic books and inspired such a loyal and dedicated worldwide fan base.
The series features interviews with icons such as Stan Lee, Patty Jenkins, Lynda Carter, Kevin Smith, Famke Janssen, J.K. Simmons, Michelle Rodriguez, and Todd McFarlane, among many others.
Reviewing the first episode on Marvel in the 1960s is reviewed in the Radio Times notes “this is no mere reverential biography: as Marvel’s superheroes soared, the relationship between their creators soured and those fallings-out are covered with candour. The general feeling seems to be that Lee took too much credit for what was really a team effort.”
If you enjoy the show, then you may want to pick up a copy of writer, performer and producer Adrian Mackinder’s first book, Stan Lee: How Marvel Changed the World, published by Pen and Sword Books under their White Owl imprint earlier this year. You may recall we trailed it’s release back in March, but unfortunately, my review copy arrived just as some major eye problems hit, but I started reading it a couple of weeks ago and I’m really enjoying the book.
Adrian skilfully relates Stan’s life story, while also acknowledging many differences of opinion about the origin of early Marvel heroes, drawing on quotes from a variety of sources, including former Marvel UK staff such as Alan Cowsill and John Tomlinson. Written in a conversational and informative style, it’s well worth checking out.
The publisher also released The Creators of Batman: Bob, Bill and The Dark Knight, written by Rik Worth, in May.
In the early days 20th century the emerging medium of comics was beginning to grab the attention of children and adults alike. Then, in the 1930s, superheroes revolutionised the entire industry and culture as we know it. Gotham’s caped crusader, The Batman, swung into this pantheon of demi-gods in 1939 and secured his place as one of the world’s most beloved characters.
But do know who created The Dark Knight? Do you know how artist Bob Kane, placed himself at the secret origins of Batman while his co-creator Bill Finger was forced into the shadows? Do you know how comic creators, journalists, and family members fought to have Finger credited for his work?
Described by the publisher as “the first prose book to focus both on Finger and Kane”, as well as cast of supporting characters from one of the most exciting times in comic book history, The Creators of Batman: Bob, Bill and The Dark Knight gathers everything we know about these two monumental figures and lays their stories side by side. Bringing together the story of these two creators against the exciting background of the American comic’s boom and Batman’s Golden Age. It looks at how Finger and Kane constructed the world of Gotham and its denizens, and grapples with the legacy the creators left behind.
THE SECRET HISTORY OF COMICS – EPISODE GUIDE
The Mighty Misfits Who Made Marvel
Secret History of Comics takes a deeper look into the stories, people and events that have transformed the world of American comic books.
In the first episode, explore how Jack Kirby and Stan Lee invented Marvel’s most beloved characters. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby are the Lennon and McCartney of Marvel Comics, and just like The Beatles, eons from now, people will still be talking about these characters and the people who created them, akin on the same level.
The Truth About Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman is the most popular female comic-book superhero of all time. Aside from Superman and Batman, no other comic-book character has lasted as long. Like every other superhero, Wonder Woman has a secret identity. Unlike every other superhero, she also has a secret history. The history of her creation seven decades ago has been hidden away – until now.
A riveting work of historical detection revealing that the origins of one of the world’s most iconic superheroes hides within it a fascinating family story-and a crucial history of twentieth-century feminism. Take a look at the very unconventional lives of the man and women who created this iconic pop culture figure.
The Trials of Superman
Superman is really the all-father of superheroes. He is the Odin from which all else springs forward. Without Superman, there’s no Marvel or DC, no billion-dollar blockbusters. His logo is one of the three most recognizable symbols on the planet, and it stands shoulder to shoulder with the crucifix and the Jewish star. Superman became a worldwide phenomenon and was created by two working-class kids from Cleveland, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.
Superman is for justice and it’s kind of ironic that there was a great injustice done to his creators. Siegel and Shuster lost everything, and just like Superman, they demanded justice. They fought for years to receive proper credit and compensation.
City of Heroes
This episode explores how the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York fundamentally changed how US comic books are written and superheroes are portrayed.
In response to the attack, with most of its comics set in a fictional version of the city, Marvel created Heroes and A Moment of Silence, recognising that heroes were all around us. Such comics aimed to bring the civil heroes to the forefront, those first to the scene.
The Colour of Comics
The rise and fall of Milestone Comics, the first African-American-owned comic book imprint, which came to life in early 1990s New York.
US comic book heroes were meant to be relateable to their readers, but, unfortunately, there were no major black heroes. There was black representation in comics, but they were very stereotypical to that time. Derek Dingle and Denys Cowen got into comic books when they were young and were disappointed to see that there were no heroes that they could relate to. Together with Dwayne McDuffie and Michael Davis, they set out to create their own…
Image Comics: Declaration of Independents
Seven renegade artists shock the comic-book industry by starting their own company, Image Comics, to rival giants Marvel and DC.