‘Stan Lee’s Master Class:’ Book Review

Stan Lee worked in the comic book industry since the late 1930s and was integral to the evolution of Marvel Comics and the “Marvel Style.”  For seventy years, he was a writer and editor who co-created the Mighty Marvel Universe, including fan favorites Spider-Man, The Avengers, and the Incredible Hulk.  Lee worked with many rising stars and established creators over the decades, endowing him with invaluable knowledge about the industry.  As a veteran and legend, Lee shared his experience in a series of books that includes Stan Lee’s How to Draw Comics, Stan Lee’s How to Write Comics, and Stan Lee’s How to Draw Superheroes.  And, last month, the fourth book of the series, Stan Lee’s Master Class, was released by Watson-Guptill (Penguin Random House).  

In this fourth instructional book, Lee advises in his preface that this book is targeted for experienced artists who have honed their skills prior to working through this guide.  Lee’s master class begins with a review of the tools of the trade and terminology (chapter one); one-, two-, and three-point perspectives (chapter four); page design (chapter seven); manga, a new topic for these books (chapter nine); and digital technology (chapter ten).  Lee also included a sample script for artists to practice all of the skills learned throughout the master class.  In addition, Roy Thomas, Lee’s successor Marvel editor, wrote a personal and insightful “In Memoriam” that closes the volume.  

Although Lee suggested the artist reader have prior experience, Stan Lee’s Master Class will appeal to a wider audience: creators – writers, inkers, letterers, etc. – and fans of comics.  This is largely a result of the information and tips Lee shares that are insightful and concise, especially topics that are unfamiliar and/or complex to grasp, for example, perspective and manga.  His discussion about action was utterly fascinating; he revealed how important placement of bodies, point-of-view, shape of panels, and layout can accelerate and slow the pacing.  And often, Lee sprinkled in humor along with pearls of wisdom.  Supplementing Lee’s explanations are Fernando Ruiz’s interior instructional art and real-life examples from classical and contemporary artists in the business.   

There are numerous instructional books on comics available, and Stan Lee’s Master Class is an invaluable guide for new and veteran creators.  Comic book and Stan Lee fans will also likely find this book enjoyable in addition to helping the reader to better understand the complexities of the comic book medium.


Creative Team: Stan Lee, Danny Fingeroth, Keith Dallas, Robert Sodaro, David Roach, and Robert Greenberger (co-writers); J. Bone (cover illustration/color); Fernando Ruiz (interior instructional art); and Erin Skeen Dominguez (design)
Publisher: Watson-Guptill (Penguin Random House)
Click here to purchase.



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