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Comics: Stan’s Soapbox: The Collection

November 10, 2008

Once upon a time, before graphic novels became Serious Literature, comic books were pretty much for kids. Anybody who read Marvel comics between 1967 and 1980 will probably remember that when you were done with the actual comic, there was some wordy stuff in between the pictures that kept you posted on the goings-on inside Marvel Headquarters, which was a space station inhabited by costumed inter-dimensional super-beings known as the “Marvel Bullpen.” Or something like that.

“Stan’s Soapbox,” penned by Stan Lee, served as sort of a blog in those days before the interwebs. He wrote about what was happening inside and occasionally outside the Marvel offices. Some of it’s pretty inside baseball at this remove, but Lee managed to slip in a real life lesson every once in a while that related current events to the more extraordinary heroics in the rest of the book. As he put it (in March 1970): “It seems to me that a story without a message, however subliminal, is like a man without a soul.” He wrote about the evils of intolerance and racism and it came off like friendly advice, not a lecture.

His columns have been collected in a new book, Stan’s Soapbox: The Collection, due out Nov. 18 from the Hero Initiative, a nonprofit that helps comic creators from the Golden and Silver Ages of comics who aren’t as famous as Lee with some basic necessities such as rent and healthcare as they enter their own golden and silver ages. The book collects all “Stan’s Soapbox” columns, and adds a timeline of what was going on in the non-Marvel universe, and remembrances from some of comicdom’s big names. These are, after all, the guys who comforted you after you got stuffed in a locker, so maybe now you can throw a little lunch money their way.

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