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Tales to Astonish: Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, and the American Comic Book Revolution
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Tales to Astonish: Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, and the American Comic Book Revolution

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  210 ratings  ·  21 reviews
Tales to Astonish relates the spectacular life and times of Jack Kirby, the legendary forefather of American comic books. In the 1960's, Kirby joined with Stan Lee to develop many of our best-known and most beloved superheroes, including the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk, the X-Men, Thor, Iron Man, the Avengers, and the Silver Surfer. Ronin Ro chronicles Kirby's pove
Paperback, 304 pages
Published July 5th 2005 by Bloomsbury USA (first published 2004)
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3.75  · 
Rating details
 ·  210 ratings  ·  21 reviews

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Oct 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book appeared right before comic book movies upped the money involved in the superheroes created by Kirby over his long career in comics. But it still does plenty to reinforce what I already knew - the man was heavily responsible for the pop culture world we live in, and nowhere near rewarded enough for all his contributions. Ro doesn't really do much about any revolution in this book, but he does string together a lot of interesting stories about the countervailing forces of creativity and ...more
Jun 29, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: comics fans of all types
Although I'm not a big Marvel fan by any stretch of the imagination I enjoyed this book because it serves as an excellent history of the comics industry.

Jack Kirby was a major player in both the Golden Age and Silver Age of comics, creating, writing and even editing many popular titles. When he was finished doing The Fantastic Four he would go to work on The Rawhide Kid (cowboys), True Romance, and Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos. I enjoyed a lot of the "behind the scenes" gossip of comics c
Tim Miles
Jan 10, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle
A good overview of Kirby and Lee's life and of the industry at the time, but you go through this book and never have any idea what Kirby's style actually looked like; Ro refuses to describe it, focusing on what the characters are doing (eg. punching six men at once.) If you came to this book without any knowledge of Kirby's art, you would have no idea why Lee was telling artists to draw like Kirby, no specific dread at DC erasing Kirby's Superman heads and replacing them with standard ones, as i ...more
Sep 09, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Steve, David
It's not so much about the growth of the comic book or the silver age of comics as it's a love letter to Jack Kirby. That could've derailed the book, but Ro did enough reporting and used enough quotes to push the book forward.
Plus, I'm a geek. I was gonna enjoy this book no matter what.
Evan McB
Jul 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a balanced recounting of the grievances from Stan Lee and Jack Kirby both towards each other and the comic book companies for which they worked throughout their lifetimes (although it would have been better with an index and bibliography). The title Tales to Astonish is taken from the comic series in which Ant-Man first appeared in 1962. Ant-Man, of course, is one of the many heroes created by Jack Kirby for Marvel Comics, and that Marvel Comics and parent company Disney currently o ...more
Sep 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a very good book! So much information on the start and rise of Marvel comics! It's also pretty inspirational for those who are interested in working in the creative fields. Some things I didn't like were the constant bias towards Jack Kirby (making Stan Lee look bad). And I felt that the author constantly made the same points over and over again. Like he would keep repeating that Kirby was upset, or mad or not speaking to Stan. In all if they took out these redundant details it would've ...more
Ed Nemo
Jul 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biograghy
I just finished reading this book. Now as anyone that has had an even passing conversation with me knows, I am a rabid comics fan. So, I read this book over the last two days and simply marvelled, (pun intended), over how the industry got started and how it treated its creators.

In the end, I feel this book was very fair to both Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. But, you just can't help but see how awful big business can be. I feel bad for people like Jim Shooter, who admittedly made Marvel a juggernaut,
Apr 08, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quite an interesting history of the early history of Marvel seen though Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

The starts off with Jack Kirby, his childhood, he meeting and marriage to Roz and his time in the Army during World War Two. We are given a history of Marvel before it became Marvel. We see the creation of the first Marvel hero, Captain America. During this time we meet a young Stan Lee who worked with Kirby. We move into the 60's Stan is given a bit of free reign and between Stan and Kirby they creat
Skot Nelson
Apr 03, 2015 rated it liked it
A good book that covers a pivotal period of the industry.

The writing is a little dry here, and it seems to rely on interviews with only some of the players. The book frankly makes Jack Kirby look like an angry bitter man and does little to dispute Stan Lee's claims that he wrote much of the material, even though the book seems to point the reader to a conclusion that Kirby was wronged and Lee was as manipulated by the Marvel press machine and reporters' bias' anything.

This is history and it's no
Jul 05, 2013 rated it it was ok
This book is primarily concerned with Kirby and Lee and honestly it vilifies Lee as having made a deal with the devil (it seems) and screwing over Kirby in the process.
I am not inclined to disagree with that because Marvel very much did just that to Kirby, singling him out because if anyone had a claim to the characters it was him. The book also touches a bit on Ditko's experience as it is similar to the dealings with Lee.
If you read Mark Evanier's "Kirby: The King of Comics," then this is a w
Christopher Obert
May 10, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2010
A wonderful book telling the history of the Kirby/Lee comic book revolution. It is well written and has lots of behind the scenes stories and conflicts. I was a little heartbroken when I read of all of the bickering and backstabbing that went on between many of my childhood heroes. It made me realize (like many other biographies) that all of my real life heroes are flesh and blood not just characters in some book! The only thing that could have made this book better would have been pictures. You ...more
Matthew Lipson
Mar 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book does a great Deal to deepen and cast light on the controversy on exactly how much Jack Kirby had a hand in the creation of all the characters either attributed to Stan Lee or to both of them. Well researched with lots of interviews involving the people involved except the two people truly involved in the controversy. Kirby of course died long before the book was published and Lee has told the same stories regarding his collaboration with Kirby with no variations. A good read for anyone ...more
Jun 20, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I need to offer a disclaimer about why I gave this book two stars instead of three. The content of this book was a downer for me. I love the Silver Age comics by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko, and this book shows how their creation was the end result of a lot of years of slogging with no remunerative result followed by wild success coupled with relative exploitation. Lee and Kirby are revealed to have possessed -- gasp! -- character flaws. Damn you Ronin Ro for showing me that the men wh ...more
Scott Gillespie
Nov 16, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-books
Tales is about the early history of comic books in America with the emphasis on Marvel, Stan Lee and especially the career of Jack Kirby. As a Marvel monkey during the '70s I found this book both enlightening and sad. Apparently Lee was an unctuous showman and Kirby was chronically frustrated with the sleazy shenanigans perpetuated by Marvel - and to a lesser extent, DC. Tales is also filled with trivia only a comic geek could love.
Jul 27, 2011 added it
I really wanted to go smack someone at points in this book. Jack was an amazing talent and a sweet man who was often screwed over because he didn't like conflicts. By the end of the book though, I was nearly crying because of the genuine love and admiration so many had for Jack and his wife Roz - not the least of which is the writer. A "warts and all" look at the inside of the industry from its beginnings until Jack's death in 1994 and Roz' in 1996.
Mar 06, 2013 rated it liked it
The story was awesome read it during this past weekend. I was surprised to find no picks. Mark Evanier's on the same subject (Comic artist great Jack Kirby) had more pics and had more of a comic book feel.
Frank Taranto
An interesting look at the world of comoic books. The book focuses on Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the creators of the Marvel Universe.
As a big fan of early Marvel comics through the early 80's, I enjoyed the look behind the scenes.
Doug Robertson
Jan 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics, non-fiction
Tales to Astonish is by far my favorite telling of the Lee/Kirby story that I've read thus far.
Oct 21, 2007 rated it did not like it
Shelves: comics
You might be tempted, but don't do it! Not only is this book full of inaccuracies, but it is poorly written. A big disappointment. Avoid it and wait for the Evanier bio.
Oct 19, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: comic fans
An entertaining look at the Silver Age of comics. Stan Lee is just as insane as you think he is, and the book only gets better from there.
Larry Jones
Jun 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
After reading this book I have a whole lot less respect for Stan Lee.
Kirby is King.Long live the King !
Marc Allie
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Jun 14, 2011
rated it really liked it
Mar 12, 2016
rated it it was amazing
Aug 27, 2018
rated it really liked it
Sep 22, 2008
Megan Hutto
rated it really liked it
Jan 11, 2019
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Apr 01, 2013
Neil Sarver
rated it it was ok
May 10, 2016
C. Hall
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Apr 20, 2009
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ASTONISH Reviewers 1 7 Jul 15, 2009 02:35PM  
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