Podcast / The Time of Monsters / Aug 6, 2023

The Secret Origins of Marvel

On this episode of The Time of Monsters, Elana Levin discusses Disney’s dishonest documentary and the greatness of Jack Kirby.

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The Secret Origins of Marvel | Time of Monsters with Jeet Heer
byThe Nation Magazine

Disney has released a new documentary which myself and many others have criticized for regurgitating a mythical version of history that extolls Stan Lee as sole creator of the Marvel universe. 

To talk more about the documentary, I’m joined by Elana Levin, who has written widely on comics and hosts the Graphic Policy podcast– an excellent forum that takes up the intersection of politics and popular culture.

On this episode of The Time of Monsters, beyond rebutting the documentary, Elana and I talk about the true history of Marvel, with particular emphasis on the contribution of Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, the artists who were also (at a minimum) co-writers of the stories credited to Lee. In the discussion, Elana recommends some excellent resources for more information including Abraham Josephine Riesman’s biography of Lee and Kate Willaert's fascinating tumblr page, Kirby Without Words.

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Photo illustration of Stan Lee with original drafts. (Photo Illustration by Ludwig Hurtado / Getty Images / Courtesy of Media Rez)

Disney has released a new documentary that myself and many others have criticized for regurgitating a mythical version of history in extolling Stan Lee as sole creator of the Marvel universe. 

To talk more about the documentary, I’m joined by Elana Levin, who has written widely on comics and hosts the Graphic Policy podcast—an excellent forum that takes up the intersection of politics and popular culture.

On this episode of The Time of Monsters, beyond rebutting the documentary, Elana and I talk about the true history of Marvel, with particular emphasis on the contribution of Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, the artists who were also (at a minimum) cowriters of the stories credited to Lee. In the discussion, Elana recommends some excellent resources for more information including Abraham Josephine Riesman’s biography of Lee and Kate Willaert’s fascinating tumblr page, Kirby Without Words.

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Jeet Heer

Jeet Heer is a national affairs correspondent for The Nation and host of the weekly Nation podcast, The Time of Monsters. He also pens the monthly column “Morbid Symptoms.” The author of In Love with Art: Francoise Mouly’s Adventures in Comics with Art Spiegelman (2013) and Sweet Lechery: Reviews, Essays and Profiles (2014), Heer has written for numerous publications, including The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, The American Prospect, The GuardianThe New Republic, and The Boston Globe.

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