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Friday, February 19, 2021 

There can be no doubt, Abraham Riesman must be delighted by the attention the MSM's giving to his tabloid trash

It would seem that following the release of propagandist Abraham Riesman's new book about Stan Lee that's more like an attempt to paint a massively ugly picture of his family life, among other things we could've already figured out were entirely possible, the New York Post has turned to aiding him by telling that former manager Keya Morgan, the same one earlier convicted for elder abuse, provided taped recordings of conversations that went on between Lee and his daughter J.C around the house. Something Morgan first provided to Riesman. What they allege here, whether factual or not, is decidedly intended for little more than to insult Stan's supporters:
The voice on the recording was unmistakably Stan Lee — the raspy baritone of the nonagenarian that’s familiar from his trademark movie cameos.

“I think you’re the dumbest white woman I’ve ever known!” Lee is screaming, apparently at his adult daughter, J.C.

“F–k you, Stan!” she fires back.

In another, Lee is told that J.C. has phoned to tell him she loves him. “F–k, she doesn’t know what love is,” Lee responds. “I don’t need to be upset every f–king time she calls.”
Here's the problem: they don't provide any links to the audios they speak of, and this honestly sounds contrived: if "white" were replaced with any other skin color/ethnicity, the far-leftist press in particular would gobble this up like there's no tomorrow, all in order to declare Lee demonic. But what matters is that, if anything, the allegations Riesman published are tabloid fodder stinking of cheap sensationalism. Heck, even if Lee really did say that, or act profane, would that be any different from countless other people living in Hollywood or elsewhere? The simple answer is "no".
The recordings, made in the final years of Lee’s life by his ex-manager, perhaps secretly, will likely shock his fans who only know him as the ebullient, catchphrase-spouting face of Marvel Comics. Lee died in 2018.
Speaking as a Stan fan, guess what? They don't shock me at all. I realize it's entirely possible for guys like Lee to employ vile profanity as much as anybody else. We can't expect him to be any more perfect than anybody else because he's a flesh and blood human. Yet Riesman said:
“It’s not about tearing him down,” Riesman told The Post. “The message is, there are no superheroes.”
He obviously thinks all Marvel fans are the dumbest people he's ever known, along with DC's and Dark Horse's. As though we could never realize a lot of legends have unfortunate family feuds, and cuss as much as the average working class citizen in the suburbs. They go on to say something else laughable:
J.C. would soon develop a reputation for wild spending.

Late in his life, when Lee was noticeably frail, his brother asked him why he still appeared at comic conventions, despite his reported $50-$70 million fortune.

“I need the money,” Stan Lee told his brother. “My wife spends a lot, and my daughter’s even worse.” “Stan firmly saw himself as the only thing standing between J.C. and destitution,” Riesman writes.
If we're talking about women spending on fancy clothes, cosmetics and diamonds, to say nothing of food and wine, and even luxury sport cars, gee, what's so new about that? I won't say such spending can't go overboard, but something tells me young master Riesman doesn't understand enough about women's habits, let alone those of somebody who's part of a wealthy family. If Kate Capshaw, wife of Steven Spielberg, is a big spender, yet it's not a big deal when she goes to the mall, why must it be any different with senior and junior Joan? I'm honestly skeptical of this BS alleged, because it sounds more like an attempt to claim Lee wasn't so much concerned about his fanbase as he was about supposedly going broke.
During a brief phone call with Riesman, J.C. defended her spending. “Let’s just say I bought a pair of shoes or I bought thirty pairs of shoes. Is it anybody’s business?”
Of course not. If Hilary Clinton bought a whole warehouse full of shoes, nobody on the left would think for a moment that's their business. But they sure would if Melania Trump did. And the reason a leftist like Riesman apparently thinks it's a big deal if J.C spent tons on shoes is because, despite the Lee family's being part of a liberal crowd, when the left sees somebody on their side as expendable, boy, do they ever go at them like a bulldozer.
In his final years, an enfeebled Lee became caught in a war among various bodyguards, lawyers, managers and J.C., as ugly accusations of missing money and abuse splashed across the tabloids.

One of those parties, Lee’s former manager, Keya Morgan, provided the edited audio recordings to Riesman. It’s unclear what his motivation for sharing the tapes now is, but it should be noted Morgan was charged in 2019 with elder abuse related to his relationship with Lee. He pleaded not guilty.
Wait a minute. The tapes were edited?!? Hmm, how do we know something wasn't left out? Add to that how the now derailing NY Post hasn't even provided any uploaded videos so we could judge for ourselves. What good is all this then? They may think motives aren't clear, but anybody familiar with the news a few years ago can guess Morgan recorded all this as a "revenge insurance policy", assuming there's any tapes at all, and provided the alleged tapes to Riesman for revenge. Because apparently, J.C is the only problem here, and that's the really irritating thing about this tabloid trash. This also hints at Morgan's contempt for Lee, seeing as he was charged with stealing at least $100,000 from estate funds. Indeed, no matter what went on at the household, why wouldn't somebody who committed abuse against the guy he was entrusted with caretaking want to take actions to defame him as well? Food for thought.
Riesman says he understands the fans who are upset by this unflattering glimpse of the superhero idol.

“It’s really hard to say what a person’s true self is,” he says. “We’re all different things to different people.”
It's very hard to say what Riesman's true self is. Considering he defended Marvel's publicity stunts like turning Capt. America into a "hail hydra" spouter, and even called for an end to Punisher merchandise, that's why I don't think he understands anything at all.

Since we're on the subject, it would seem even The Forward's taken to joining the sleazy tabloid bandwagon in another review of Riesman's atrocious would-be biography:
Real-life origin stories, and Lee’s in particular, are less pat and easy to regurgitate than nativities spawned from radioactive spider bites or gamma radiation. In part this is due to Lee’s own dissembling. He had an infamous tendency to take credit and construct a personal mythology at odds with the narrative of his collaborators. Central to Riesman’s book is the core ambiguity of whether Lee as a writer and editor deserves to be recognized as the main creative force behind Marvel and its iconic stable of characters. The question is not a posthumous one; it is still vital, Riesman insists, to Lee’s legacy. Whether that concern will engage the same kind of mass audience that Lee’s co-creations began to seize in his final years is unlikely. It’s not a rip-roaring read, but it is often a gutting one, even, and perhaps especially for, a fan who knows of the controversies already.
First off, what Stan should be recognized as is the primary creative force behind several ideas/characters produced in the 1960s, beginning with the Fantastic Four. Most people know the Marvel universe didn't begin with him in the Golden Age as a writer, though he was one of their earliest contributors in that field. Second, I knew of the controversies already, and people like Riesman have only made them worse, because of the way they've played up the downsides in his life at the expense of the upsides. As I've said before, it doesn't look like Riesman did this altruistically, nor did this weekly paper, and that's just the problem here. The reviewer drones on with this:
Thankfully, for every not-quite-relevant historical digression, there is interesting background on the early, slapdash comics industry and solid reporting to crack the tough nut of the proper attribution of Marvel’s contested lineup — though that last notion is a niche one compared to the book’s character study. The Lee presented here is a man who certainly overstated his role in originating the franchises now worth untold billions. Tracking his on-the-record inconsistencies, and those of artist collaborators Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, the book is best when it finds the root of Lee’s fibs.
Oh, so he was nothing more than an inherent liar? I know there were times when he made statements that were pretty exaggerated, or jabs at the expense of his rivals in business, but I don't believe he fibbed about everything. Certainly, he may not have given his artists enough credit, but that's still no excuse for tearing him down, when there's every chance Riesman would turn against Kirby and Ditko next, and indeed, that's what Riesman did when he defended Marvel's turning Steve Rogers into a Hail-Hydra spouter during Secret Empire. If he wouldn't acknowledge Axel Alonso's publicity stunt was just that, why should we believe he's so much as a Captain America fan, let alone a Marvel fan? The insults go on:
As previous biographies — and even Lee’s own remarks — have suggested, he felt the comics form to be beneath him. He aspired to write a great novel, direct an arthouse film or, in the days when they still had prestige relative to comic books, helm a syndicated comic strip. The job in comics was a stopgap, a teenage gig provided by a cousin-in-law that became an all-consuming career as Lee toiled as an editor, (always freelance) writer and finally publisher. If Lee had a part in making Marvel more erudite through characters like the Silver Surfer, it was likely more out of a desire to do something different than to elevate the form.

Lee’s tragedy, born of ego and shame, was to inflate his own importance as a kind of exit strategy. Comics were always meant to be a springboard to other opportunities — including a collaboration with filmmaker Alain Resnais (really; Fellini also visited the Marvel offices as a fan) and a political talk show — that never went anywhere. In his last decades, all Lee had as a commodity was his own image, built on the brand he was credited, through his own public preening and failure to correct the record, with birthing.
They really believe that BS, don't they? They really think that, just because Lee never owned the copyrights for his creations, let alone the company itself, he didn't like the comics medium at all? I almost feel sorry for these propagandists. Whatever previous bios they speak of told, I've gotten the impression based on comments by Sean Howe that what Lee was disenchanted with were business methods that didn't sustain the medium well in the long run. In any case, what's all but obscured in these propaganda pieces was that Lee remained Marvel's publisher until 1990, suggesting more that he was there as long as he was because he cared about what he'd shepherded for many years. It was after his departure as chairman proper that things slowly went downhill, with publishers continuing to glue themselves solid on a monthly pamphlet format that didn't benefit the medium due to the rising costs of pages and paper. Something Lee himself unfortunately never made a serious effort to steer away from, and adapt more to paperbacks, if that's what would've benefited the art form better. And let's not forget the gradually declining story merit in the 90s.
As a profile of Lee’s insecurities, his occasional genius (we learn he pitched the Japanese “Super Sentai” b-roll concept of the “Power Rangers” a few years before their debut) and his narcissism, Riesman’s book feels definitive, likely benefiting, where other efforts failed, from not having Lee around to spin the narrative. As a source for Lee’s creative inspiration, it’s disappointing but diligent in its objective, inconclusive report on embattled intellectual property. When the text aims for deep, psychoanalytic glosses, such as when Riesman claims Lee spoke “brutally” and Oedipally of his father in an autobiographical passage where Lee said he felt bad that his dad was out of work in the Depression, the book overplays its hand. But then, Riesman often breaks in to proclaim that his task as a biographer is in some sense futile.
Ah, so what they're saying is if Lee were alive to contribute to this bio, he wouldn't try to answer any challenging questions, and Riesman wouldn't make room for judgement? I think I'm falling asleep.

Next, if anybody's interested in Riesman's own alleged history, the Times of Israel has this item all about how he got to meet Stan at a convention, and what's told leaves me just as disgusted, and with my intellect insulted:
As a young teenager in 1998, Abraham Riesman met Stan Lee at a comic convention called Wizard World Chicago. Lee, known as the father of the Marvel Universe, was not yet famous to mainstream audiences.

“I didn’t have to wait a long time in line to meet him or pay for his autograph,” Riesman recalled.
Hmm, I wonder if he's resentful for having to pay a lot of dough for a mere autograph? That aside, it's awfully exaggerated to say Lee wasn't famous yet with the mainstream audiences, seeing as years before, he and his company did manage to get Saturday morning cartoons produced in the late 60s based on Captain America and Spider-Man, for example, and until the turn of the century, there were various TV productions based on Marvel's works, and Lee gave interviews and other stuff to the press for many years.
Far from hagiography, the book, titled, “True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee,” exposes Lee’s dissembling about who really created the exceedingly popular Marvel superheroes. (Hint: It wasn’t him, at least for the most part.)

In essence, Riesman supports in this biography what many within the comics industry and community have known for decades. Through his extensive research and reporting, the author brings to light the truth about who Lee really was, versus who he presented himself to be.
Gee, I don't think Lee ever tried to make anyone believe he was a literal, unquestioned saint. We all know he didn't create everything in the MCU. He just proved a talented spokesperson and writer, is all. It was known he wasn't a great businessman by contrast.
Lee flogged Marvel — which grew from comic books for children to a universe of blockbuster movies and merchandising — to the world. But what Lee was most interested in selling was himself. He wasn’t exactly a villain, but neither was he the hero that he made himself out to be. Ultimately, he paid dearly for this lack of self-knowledge and awareness, living out his final years suffering from abuse and indignities.
Keep going with all the old, boring news, please. Oh, and the part about "children"? Even that's a laugh. Lee tried to give them more of an intelligent, sophisticated edge than your average issue of Richie Rich and Mickey Mouse comics. Why, now that I think of it, even Julius Schwartz gave some of the DC comics he oversaw in the Silver Age some form of sophistication as well. IMO, Green Lantern certainly bore something of that sort. They also fail to consider that as he reached his 70s, Lee clearly was suffering from mental health issues that made it difficult pass judgement properly. Do any of the indignities they speak of include the Marvel staff exploiting him to further their social justice propaganda? If not, and there's no critical response to their MO in this bio, that only compounds all the more the perception this was intended more for tearing down a flawed but still admirable man.
“My intent was not to take Stan down but to write honestly. I really don’t think of this as an exposé or a myth buster,” Riesman told The Times of Israel in a video interview from his home in Providence, Rhode Island.
Guess what? I'm not buying what he says at face value after the way he treated fandom, along with Capt. America.
The book is, rather, an attempt to understand Lee’s motivations and the impact of his words and actions. Riesman wanted to know the story that Lee told when he lied, and why he told it. He wanted to know who facilitated these lies, and what the outcomes were.
Umm, I don't think that's good manners to call somebody like Lee a liar. Not even somebody like him who's no longer around to defend himself.
Notwithstanding Lee’s snappy way with words (sometimes breaking the fourth wall by addressing readers directly), he really did not deserve the full writing credit for these comic books — but he took it anyway.

“Stan Lee is the only character that Stan Lee independently created,” Riesman remarked.
This obscures how by the end of the 80s, Stan had long acknowledged the contribution of his artists, and how they were just as responsible for realizing his ideas as he was.
To add insult to injury, Lee hired Marvel’s exceptional talent (including Kirby, who returned) on a freelance basis only. Not only did he squelch attempts at their organizing, but he also forbade them from doing work for rival companies.

“I wasn’t trying to pass judgment overall [on Lee], but in the case of Stan’s labor exploitation, I am passing judgment,” Riesman said.
You were trying to pass judgement, and still are. What this overlooks is that from the Golden Age till today, many publishers rely on freelancers, and the article seems to indicate Crown publishing made a special deal with Riesman to write this bio, so if he did this as a special freelancing contract job, isn't that the same thing? Freelancing goes back a long time, and isn't just limited to comicdom. There's writers working in books, movies, magazines and television who've done their share not as staff members of a company per se, but as freelancers, which isn't saying they couldn't still make a fortune from their efforts, depending how much pay is offered, and bonus fees. This also overlooks DC's own editors not allowing work for rivals, including the aforementioned Mort Weisinger, his own character creations notwithstanding, and who practically fired Roy Thomas on the accusations of being a spy. And as Thomas mentioned, he didn't see Weisinger as a guy dedicated to the art form, so why is Riesman only interested in one specific man, and not others, who could've been worse in their MO than Lee ever was? Just because Lee made a fortune doesn't mean he's the only who counts. Unless Riesman's resentful Lee got all the moolah, while he's far from a millionaire by contrast? I don't buy what's said about organizing either.
Things essentially went downhill for Lee from the 1980s through to his death in 2018. He and his wife moved to Los Angeles, and just about every attempt Lee made to break into the Hollywood scene failed. He increasingly relied on charging high rates for appearances and autographs to supply needed cashflow.

The latter part of “True Believer” is about the various business ventures Lee got himself involved in, many of which were dubious, if not outright criminal. Desperate to make the huge sums needed to sustain the lifestyles of his shopaholic wife and permanently dependent daughter, Lee associated with unscrupulous individuals. It’s unclear to what extent he was aware of the various underhanded dealings done in his name.
Now isn't this strange. On the one hand, Riesman criticizes Lee's labor practices. On the other, he makes it sound like Joan Sr. and Jr. were wrong to lead the kind of big spending lifestyles common among the Beverly Hills crowd. There's something pretty hypocritical here, and in addition, he fails to consider Lee wasn't exactly the owner of Marvel proper. Otherwise, he might've been able to retain the copyrights to his own creations. I guess the journalist really is that jealous. Plus, he fudges details about the animation studio Lee worked with that was active during the 80s, and while such a job may not pay much more than comicdom does, chances are it made him some of the dough that won him an estate in California.
In speaking with The Times of Israel, Riesman said it was unfortunate that Lee had not been more entrenched in the Jewish community, as that could have helped mitigate the tumultuousness of his last years. However, it would have been unlikely for Lee to seek support from Jewish institutions. For his entire life, he made it a point of distancing himself from the religious way of life espoused by his father.

“I was really intrigued by a quote I noticed in Stan’s autobiography. He was speaking of his and his wife’s inability, as an interfaith couple, to adopt a child [in the 1950s, after their second daughter died shortly after birth],” Riesman said.

“He said it was because ‘my wife was Episcopalian, and my parents were Jewish.’ It struck me that he himself didn’t identify as Jewish.”
First off, if Riesman's obfuscating the differences between race and similarly-named religion, I find that objectionable. Seriously. Secondly, I'm wondering why the surely left-wing Riesman actually cares about the Judiast religion here, when there's only so many ultra-leftist Jews in the USA who couldn't give a damn, not even about the Reform sect, nor do they care about Israel as a country. This subject brings to mind some clowns who say they believe Kitty Pryde is a Reform adherent, even though I don't recall any Marvel material where the X-Men's 1980 recruit was ever explicitly identified as belonging to such a sect. Why does it suddenly matter to Riesman that Lee was little different from other Hollywood Jews who'd marry a woman who wasn't of the same ethnicity, and wasn't a convert to the Judaist religion in any sect? I assume it's because little Mr. Riesman is looking for hypocritical excuses to tear down on Lee all the more. Does he really think most left-wing Jews around the USA are going to care? At the end:
Riesman said he was troubled by the fact that Marvel did not intervene when Lee was in his 90s and in failing physical and mental health. It was clear that those around him were mistreating and taking advantage of him. In fact, Lee’s business manager Keya Morgan was arrested on a charge of elder abuse in May 2019, half a year after Lee’s death.

“It is unconscionable,” Riesman said.

“Stan did a lot of unsavory things, but no one deserves what happened to him in the end,” he said.
Hmm, maybe I jumped to conclusions there was nothing critical regarding Marvel's staff of the past decade in his commentary. But this still demonstrates Riesman inexplicably refused to show he had the energy to look at the personalities of people like Alonso, Joe Quesada, Tom Brevoort, Sana Amanat and Dan Buckley, and give a clear opinion what he thinks of their own practices. Like, does Riesman approve of Quesada's personal crusade to remove Mary Jane Watson from Spider-Man's world like she were some filth on the floor? If there's nothing critical in this book about that, then again, Riesman's demonstrated some ignorance and lack of altruism. Lest we forget, this is somebody with a double-standard on who gets to share Lee's wealth. He may not have noticed, but there were some people in comicdom proper who did come out in Lee's favor when Morgan was taking advantage of him, though if they failed on their part to condemn Marvel's staff for failing to do the same, you could validly argue they're just as foolish.

Another reason to suspect Riesman's motivations aren't pure is what he's said about Keya Morgan in this Comics Beat interview:
I would make calls, I would network, I would ask people who I already interviewed if they could help me get in touch with people. He’s a complicated figure, but one person who was very helpful in that regard was Keya Morgan, the man who was involved with Stan in a business and personal capacity in the last few years of his life. Keya is a big networker. Right from the very beginning, without me really even asking, he went out of his way to set me up to talk with various people. That was enormously helpful because he had access to… sort of the private Rolodex. I’m very grateful for that. You start reaching out to people, you try your best to figure out what the facts are. But I hope I make clear as much as I can in the book that all of this stuff is the work of history and journalism.
Oh my, how very interesting indeed. The man who was charged with elder abuse against Lee became one of Riesman's best allies? We must truly be missing something here. Now how do we know Morgan in turn wasn't assisting him to exact revenge against J.C, who contacted authorities after she discovered Morgan was keeping her dad at a condominium, isolating him from relatives and friends, and even pocketing some dough made on autographs at conventions? This statement even conflicts with what Riesman says about Stan not deserving what happened in the end. Does Riesman think his daughter deserves to be villified by contrast? Some of the news reports about this book seemed to emphasize Morgan's not-guilty plea at his trial, as though they're trying to get him off the hook for his offenses. Another clue they're willing to throw Lee under the bus in the years after he passed on. In the second part of the interview, they even make another fishy statement:
Silber: You definitely did. I’m Jewish, of course. I’m not religious, but it’s something I very much identify as personally. But this one question that I kept coming back to in that early section of the book where you’re talking about his difficulties with his family, and his rejection, not just religiously, but culturally of his heritage. I’ll ask this bluntly: was he ashamed of being Jewish?

Riesman: I don’t know. I can’t read his mind. I know he just didn’t want to be associated with it. When we talked about how he rejected religion in general, his way of describing it was, he just thought “if there is a creator, how could he have given us this ability to think so hard?” And then, people go into a religion just to get indoctrinated and ignore the real world. I don’t think that qualifies necessarily as shame. It’s more, just saying, well, this is a little silly and limited.

He certainly never turned down people saying, “hey, you’re Jewish and I like that.” I talked to this rabbi [Simcha Weinstein] who wrote this book called Up Up and Oy Vey, which is this lighthearted look at Jewish themes in superhero comics. He talked about calling Stan for the book. He got the number, got through to him at Pow! Entertainment. Stan picked up and, I’m paraphrasing here, but he basically said to Stan, “I want to talk to you about the Jewish themes in your writing.” And Stan was like, “I have Jewish themes in my writing? I don’t know what you’re talking about. But sure, that sounds great.” He just kept telling the rabbi “well, I don’t really know what you’re talking about, but, you know, sure. I guess that could be Jewish.”

So I don’t know if he was ashamed. He certainly didn’t think of it as something that was crucial to understanding him, although I would argue that it’s very crucial in understanding him.
Wow, a journalist whose grasp on the difference between race and religion is questionable at most believes religion is only for indoctrination, and not inspiration? That there's no difference between good and bad ones, or bad interpretations of specific religions? I guess that's telling quite a bit too. Funny thing is, he'd surely never say people desensitized to violence convert to Islam for further indoctrination, or that the Satmar and Neturei Karta's MO is a corruption of Judaism, one that practically indoctrinates hostility to the Israeli state. If we were to discuss Jewish personal and family names, Riesman seems to not notice that Kirby's real name was actually Jacob Kurtzberg, nor that his own family slammed his decision to change it when he was working in comicdom, which could suggest a form of shame, but was really connected with the worry some had about antisemitic hostility in society at the time. All that aside, I don't think Stan had a problem with his ethnic background. If he had a problem with his similarly named religion, it was just that, for better or worse. What I will say is that Haredi clans like Satmar have given the Judaist religion a bad name by making it all look so unappealing, and the MSM sometimes makes things worse by making it look as though their interpretation of Judaism is the true, genuine interpretation, even though it most definitely is not, and I don't want the Orthodox Judaist religion represented by something like the Satmar's interpretation that's now causing more harm than good in its own way.

Also, while Lee and Kirby were liberals in their time, I never heard of them saying anything negative about Israel, unlike various leftists today who've gone overboard with hostility. By the way, what does Riesman mean when he puts it as "I like that"? Is he suggesting Lee shouldn't? Ludicrous, but not unexpected coming from such a phony. I'm sure Lee was speaking in jest in his conversations with that rabbi, since he likely did draw ideas from Jewish literature and such, and I seem to remember Isaac Asimov reportedly drew ideas from the Bible for his writings, even as he described himself as an atheist in past decades. Of course, let's remember that by the early 2000s, Lee was well into his 70s, and it's been pretty apparent his mental health deteriorated by the time, as has happened with various other geriatrics past and present. Something Riesman clearly isn't interested in showing he's clearly aware of.

Interestingly, when the Los Angeles Times reviewed the book, they seem to admit Riesman's not a very talented writer, even as they wrote in favorable comments:
The Lee of Riesman’s book is not just a teller of tall tales, a genial old huckster, an ambitious and shrewd promoter of both self and medium — although he is certainly all those things. He is also a serial abuser of the truth, a hack whose creative pursuits mostly flop, a failed businessman lusting after a buck and a dysfunctional family man. There’s a corrective to be offered to the Lee Myth, but Riesman overplays his hand, diminishing his biography’s strengths by shading every story to Lee’s disadvantage.
This is telling something not every review of the book to date has actually said. If he's only willing to look at Lee through a negative lens, and can't show appreciation for the joys he brought in reading material, let alone his efforts to provide more sophistication than most Saturday morning cartoons could, then he's not being altruistic so much as he's suggesting this was intended more as a swipe at a fandom he believes was too cultish for its own good.
Riesman’s portrait of the two Lee women is biting. Joan comes across as a dilettante, whiling away her days drinking with friends and spending Stan’s money. “Joan drank these martinis and she was very much like, ‘Ahh dahhling,’” recalled one friend, “eating and drinking and partying, telling jokes, laughing, ranting about politics.” JC, meanwhile, appears as a spoiled child drifting from pursuit to pursuit, never holding down a real job and counting on her father to foot the bill for houses and cars well into her 60s.
And if this was by the time they hit it big in California, I'm not so sure what the big deal is about jet-setters partying away in Beverly Hills and Malibu. Is he aware Boocock was a British native, and some of this probably derives from the English custom of having tea to drink? The review gets disgusting when it comes to this bizarre moment:
On the central question of Lee’s role in the creation of the Marvel Universe, Riesman doesn’t shed any new light. He views the paper trail as too thin and the participants’ memories as too inconsistent to draw definitive conclusions. Lee himself offered at least four different versions of how he came up with the Fantastic Four. Only on the origin of Spider-Man does Riesman come down convincingly in favor of Steve Ditko as the primary creator. But he then takes a potshot at Lee’s most important contribution — Spider-Man’s motto “With great power there must also come great responsibility” — by suggesting Lee cribbed it from Churchill or FDR. Perhaps. But no one had used it as a pithy slogan or a superhero’s personal creed before.
So, let's see if I have this right. Riesman's saying Ditko is the "primary" creator, and not Lee? I'm not falling for this, yet the paper's reviewer apparently has. What an atrocity of propaganda indeed. As a result, I can't really credit their acknowledgement something's wrong with Riesman's MO. They even drag an aforementioned film director into this mess:
The biographer makes sure readers also know that Lee was no super fan when it came to comics. Among the many bits of evidence is a 1969 conversation Lee had with a friend, French director Alain Resnais, immortalized on a home movie reel: “I can’t understand people who read comics. I wouldn’t read them if I had the time and wasn’t in the business.”
By that logic, he wouldn't have understood why he wrote them, or had anything to do with them. If this were true, Lee was bound to have proven he had the energy to become a news magazine editor instead. And how come no link to audio or video recordings?
But all this myth-busting leaves a crucial question unanswered: What accounts for Marvel’s amazing burst of creativity in the ’60s? Riesman nods to Lee’s skill for zippy dialogue. He gives him credit for inventing the concept of a shared Marvel Universe, as Spider-Man’s arc crossed over into the world of the Fantastic Four and the Avengers. But he doesn’t explore Lee’s contribution in detail.
Which only hints at what's wrong with the whole book and approach to research.
The second generation of creators who followed Kirby and Ditko — Roy Thomas, John Romita Sr., Chris Claremont, Neal Adams — all had much better relationships with Lee. “He was equally good as an editor, equally good as a manager,” Claremont fondly recalled to Riesman. “He was the sun around which we all orbited.”
Based on this, I'd say the claim Lee didn't like comics is hugely exaggerated, and Thomas certainly indicated as much. I honestly wish any and all veterans interviewed for the book hadn't agreed to do it, because Riesman's clearly milked them all for what they're worth - fueling his vanity project for ragging on a guy no longer around to defend his legend.
The book shines when detailing Lee’s professional life after his 1980 move to Los Angeles, where he struggled to be taken seriously in Hollywood. Many in the movie business were comic fans, clamoring to socialize with Lee but not to do real business with him. “Stan had this sadness,” recalled screenwriter Ron Friedman, a friend during those years, “and the sadness was, ‘The people I hope to reach don’t value what I’ve done.’
At that time, no, they didn't, because it wasn't politically correct enough to suit their world-view. As I said before, no matter how sophisticated the topics you'd see in any particular comics of those times, most Hollywood bigwigs firmly believed the medium should be regarded as children-only. The real reason they changed their tune in modern times is because, when they decide the time's come to turn a profit buck on specific concepts, they'll do it more out of PC thinking than altruism. Hence, you had live action adaptations of Hanna-Barbera cartoons in the early 2000s (Flintstones, Scooby-Doo), no matter how ludicrous those could've been by contrast, since by the time they were made, Hollywood was getting lost in a CGI jungle putting less emphasis on good writing and performances than it did on spectacle. There may have been some good science-fiction films during that decade, but there were still plenty of botch jobs, including 2 early Fantastic Four adaptations that didn't work well, and as a result, "FF: Rise of the Silver Surfer" didn't lead to any live action spinoff films spotlighting Norrin Radd and Shalla Bal from the planet Zenn-La. But seeing as the overrated J. Michael Straczynski was once hired to work on a screenplay, that's why it's best if so far, there hasn't been one.

In the end, I'm hugely dismayed somebody like Riesman got to do the biography on Lee. If it were an historian like Neal Gabler or Leonard Maltin writing it, I'd be less concerned, because most writers like them usually show a bit more grace, and aren't driven by the kind of ideologies Riesman regrettably is. As I've said before, I fully realize Lee was no saint, and there were idiotic things he said or did in the past, but he was far from the worst of his kind, and while he unfortunately did say PC things the MSM would want to hear - including stuff that Quesada would exploit for kicking Mary Jane Watson to the curb - it's still no excuse for shredding Lee's life as cynically as what's been described from the book apparently does. All that does is further the serious harm already done to Lee's creations and other hard work by modern PC advocates who couldn't care less about the guy who conceived them in the first place.

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You wouldn't know it from this book, but it IS possible to humanize a person through biography without tearing them down. Just look at the incredible Schulz book from a few years ago. It was fantastic. No one wants this Jerry Springer trash.

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