Remembering Stan Lee, A Look Behind The Legend
Stan Lee, the former editor-in-chief of Marvel comics and co-creator of the brand’s most iconic superheroes, has passed away at the age of 95. Lee, real name Stanley Martin Lieber, helped bring a revolution to the comic book industry in the 1960s and 1970s, the results of which changed the cultural multimedia landscape and brought the Marvel brand to new heights. Given his long and storied career, this piece is dedicated to remembering Stan Lee and his work.
Lee was born on December 28th, 1922 to Celia and Jack Lieber in Manhattan, New York City. Eventually, his family moved to the Bronx, where he attended high school and spent much of his time writing for part-time work and as a hobby. In 1939, he began working as an assistant for Timely Comics, which would one day become Marvel Comics. Despite his young age at the time, Lee was allowed at times to help with writing the Captain America comic series, starting with Issue #3. In 1942, Lee enlisted with the US Army during World War II, serving in the Signal Corps and writing various army projects, including manuals and training films.
After the war, Lee returned to write for Timely Comics, which had now become Atlas Comics, but had found himself considering leaving coming altogether at the end of the 1950s. It wasn’t until Atlas Comics publisher Martin Goodman asked Lee to develop new superhero comics that could compete with DC Comics. With encouragement from his wife Joan, Lee experimented with his writing to create characters with flaws and personal challenges, unlike most of the superheroes seen in comics up to that point. Working with artist Jack Kirby, they developed the Fantastic Four in 1961, somewhat based on the Challengers of the Unknown superhero team that Kirby helped create for DC Comics. The Fantastic Four helped re-launch Atlas Comics under the new brand it would come to be known as for its entire future, Marvel Comics.
The popularity of the Fantastic Four led Lee to collaborate more with Kirby. Together they created The Hulk, The X-Men, Thor and Iron Man. Working with other artists, Lee’s co-creations also included Dardevil, with artist Bill Everett, as well as Doctor Strange and Spider-Man with artist Steve Ditko. Critics and audiences praised the complex characters for their larger-than-life personalities, yet relatable struggles and storylines. The stories also caught attention for their reference to what were then current events, such as the X-Men serving as an allegory for racial prejudice or The Hulk tapping into the cultural fears of nuclear science.
With the popularity of the Marvel brand, Lee also served as something of a public figure for the company, responding to many fan questions in the comics themselves, and even making radio and television appearances promoting the comics. Lee continued to write for Marvel Comics series throughout the 1960s and 70s in New York, before moving to California in the early 1980s to oversee the live-action film and television adaptations of the Marvel stories. In 1998, Lee co-founded Stan Lee media, with the hopes of using the internet to help launch a new generation of comic book creatives. Unfortunately, some illegal business operations by his business partners led to the bankruptcy of the company in 2001. Throughout this time, Lee continued to help bring comic adaptations to the big and small screen. He became infamous for always making cameo appearances in films related to Marvel characters that he helped create, and even some that he did not. While Marvel Entertainment was sold to The Walt Disney Company in 2009, Lee continued to be a respected member of the company and was allowed to be involved with many of the new projects under the acquired stage of the company.
Lee’s wife Joan passed away last year at the age of 95. They are both survived by their daughter, Joan Celia Lee. Remembering Stan Lee gives us a chance to look back at his long history of work in storytelling, and even a passing glance at the current multimedia industry can see his impact. The Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to release some of the highest grossing films from the past decade, and Marvel series are seen on numerous television and streaming platforms. As Lee once said, “I used to be embarrassed because I was just a comic-book writer while other people were building bridges or going on to medical careers. And then I began to realize: entertainment is one of the most important things in people’s lives. Without it they might go off the deep end. I feel that if you’re able to entertain people, you’re doing a good thing.”
Excelsior, Mr. Lee. ‘Nuff Said.
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Cory Lara1606 Posts
A royally radical and totally tubular 90s kid, Cory has a passion for all things nerdy, particularly gaming and nostalgia. While an accountant by day, he strives to be as creative and humorous as possible in his free time, be it here writing on Don't Feed the Gamers, or making dumb satirical posts on his Twitter, Youtube, Facebook and Instagram accounts.