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True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee with biographer Abraham Riesman

“I’m not damning Stan Lee, I’m living with ambiguity” says Abraham Riesman of his essential new Stan Lee biography True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee. No matter where you stand on the debate of who gets credit for Marvel comics, you MUST read this book.

It’s past time for a serious work of history like this one examining the conflicting stories behind one of most imporant cultural forces of the 20th century. Abe has done completely new research into the Lieber familiy’s history in Romania and the Romanian Jewish mileiu of Stan’s youth. He’s interviewed the journalists who wrote key pieces around Stan’s life and times at Marvel. He’s gotten everyone to talk, from Stan’s brother (cartoonist Larry Lieber) to the vultures who plagued Stan at the end of his life.

Abraham Riesman is a journalist whose work has appeared in Vulture, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, New York Magazine, The Boston Globe, and many other outlets. He is the author of TRUE BELIEVER: THE RISE AND FALL OF STAN LEE and the forthcoming RINGMASTER: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF VINCE MCMAHON. He lives in Rhode Island with his partner, the journalist SI Rosenbaum. His website is abrahamriesman.com and his Twitter handle is @abrahamjoseph.

For more from me on Stan Lee, listen to my episode with journalist Spencer Ackermen upon Lee’s death.



  • when talking about important stan lee interviews, castle of frankenstein 12 from 68 should be noted. it was probably the last time stan was totally honest about how much kirby and other “artists” contributed to the creation of each comic. he pretty much admits that they plotted and wrote the issues.
    and when talking about who exactly created the marvel universe, dont simply look at works that were solo created after kirby, ditko and others left the company. you have to look at what came before.
    for example, it’s pretty clear that the ff were modeled after kirby’s challengers of the unknown. they are the chals with the addition of a family dynamic. and a family dynamic that stan could never have experienced.

  • I’m definitely familiar with Challengers of the Unknown and they are a clear predecessor of FF.

  • That was a really good podcast. Thank you for that! I’m going to have to pick up Riesman’s book. The authorship question always seems to come up with Stan. I hope this book sheds more light on that, as it promises to do.