Stan and Jack by Pete Doree
The Mighty Marvel Bullpen, a fantasy world that we read about in Stan Lee’s Bullpen Bulletins, his monthly column that ran in every Marvel comic. A wonderful world of fun and imagination. This is where most of us first heard about the likes of Jack ‘King’ Kirby and Steve Ditko.
We know now that the reality was not so cosy. Smilin’ Stan played fast and loose with credits. Artists typically did not see a penny beyond their regular paycheck for the characters they had created, characters that often went on to make millions for Marvel.
We could only imagine what these artists were really like. This was the era when there was maybe one convention in the UK if you were lucky. And travelling to some grubby hotel in London wasn’t really on when I was ten. We had to rely on Stan Lee to give us his version of the pulse-pounding personalities of these beleaguered creators.
Stan and Jack takes that vision and turns it up a notch. What if those personalities had their own adventures. Adventures in a world shaped like their comics visions, a Kirby world full of crackling space energies, a Ditko world of shadowy mystery and eldritch forces? All driven by Stan Lee of course.
Smilin’ Stan doesn’t get off lightly in this book. We all love Stan of course, his vision shaped and brought unity to the Marvel universe and had a profound influence on our culture, for better or worse. But his sharp business practices and whip-cracking ethos don’t escape attention.
Other famous creators also appear alongside their personality foibles. Continuity-crazed Mark Evanier, landscape-lovin’ Gil Kane, Rand-readin’ Steve Ditko. It has the feel of one of those Marvel ‘roast’ comics where a lot of fun is poked but in a very affectionate way. Cracked and Mad magazines are a stated inspiration for Stan and Jack and I would add Fred Hembeck and also Tim Quinn and Dicky Howett’s Earth 33 ⅓ – a beloved staple of Marvel UK.
Stan and Jack will appeal if you are an old-school Marvel fan and especially if you have an interest in the stories of the writers and artists of the Bullpen. You don’t need to be able to tell your Kirby from your Kane – but it helps. Face front true believer!
You can get all of the issues of Stan and Jack at petedoree.bigcartel.com
Pulse-poundin’ Pete Doree can be found on Twitter.