Roy Thomas defends Stan Lee
Something like 95 percent of the time, Abraham Riesman's True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee is a very good biography. However, the remaining (and crucial) 5 percent of its content, scattered amid all that painstaking research and well-written prose, renders it often untrustworthy… i.e., a very bad biography.
Thomas tears into True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee and disputes a number of aspects, but principally has one main complaint, which is that where Reisman can't know for sure the facts, he repeatedly will back only one side, i.e., where Kirby comes out on top versus Lee in the claims of creation. This problem, the dilemma of not knowing the unknowable, is what hurts any number of biographies and histories, because the writer fills in the blank spots with their prejudices.
Enigmas about who-did-what overshadow a great deal of comic book partnership histories, and its not just issues around the Stan Lee - Kirby - Ditko triangle, of course, but the creative resumes of Bob Kane, Siegel/Shuster, and others right up to the modern age (lawsuits over Howard the Duck, for example, shows this problem doesn't go away with modern copyright laws).
This article by Thomas has a long list of anecdotes that defend Stan Lee, but another value is that the article is also a good look into the inside workings of Marvel Comics in the 1960s.
Roy Thomas article at Hollywood Reporter
And Amazon is selling copies True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee
Related: Copyright Wars of the Superheroes
Original Page March 2021