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R.I.P. Stan Lee the comic man and legend is no more.(95)

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Stan Lee (born Stanley Martin Lieber, December 28, 1922 – November 12, 2018) was an American comic writer writer, editor, producer, and publisher. He was the editor-in-chief of Marvel comics, and later its publisher and chairman, leading its expansion from a small division of a publishing house to a large multimedia corporation.
If Stan Lee revolutionized the comic book world in the 1960s, which he did, he left as big a stamp — maybe bigger — on the even wider pop culture landscape of today.

Think of “Spider-Man,” the blockbuster movie franchise and Broadway spectacle. Think of “Iron Man,” another Hollywood gold-mine series personified by its star, Robert Downey Jr. Think of “Black Panther,” the box-office superhero smash that shattered big screen racial barriers in the process.

And that is to say nothing of the Hulk, the X-Men, Thor and other film and television juggernauts that have stirred the popular imagination and made many people very rich.

If all that entertainment product can be traced to one person, it would be Stan Lee, who died in Los Angeles on Monday at 95. From a cluttered office on Madison Avenue in Manhattan in the 1960s, he helped conjure a lineup of pulp-fiction heroes that has come to define much of popular culture in the early 21st century.

Mr. Lee was a central player in the creation of those characters and more, all properties of Marvel Comics. Indeed, he was for many the embodiment of Marvel, if not comic books in general, overseeing the company’s emergence as an international media behemoth. A writer, editor, publisher, Hollywood executive and tireless promoter (of Marvel and of himself), he played a critical role in what comics fans call the medium’s silver age.

Many believe that Marvel, under his leadership and infused with his colorful voice, crystallized that era, one of exploding sales, increasingly complex characters and stories, and growing cultural legitimacy for the medium. (Marvel’s chief competitor at the time, National Periodical Publications, now known as DC — the home of Superman and Batman, among other characters — augured this period, with its 1956 update of its superhero the Flash, but did not define it.)

Under Mr. Lee, Marvel transformed the comic book world by imbuing its characters with the self-doubts and neuroses of average people, as well an awareness of trends and social causes and, often, a sense of humor.

In humanizing his heroes, giving them character flaws and insecurities that belied their supernatural strengths, Mr. Lee tried “to make them real flesh-and-blood characters with personality,” he told The Washington Post in 1992.

“That’s what any story should have, but comics didn’t have until that point,” he said. “They were all cardboard figures.”

Stan Lee

With the help of his uncle Robbie Solomon, Lee became an assistant in 1939 at the new Timely comics division of pulp magazine and comic-book publisher Martin Goodman's company. Timely, by the 1960s, would evolve into Marvel Comics. Lee, whose cousin Jean
 was Goodman's wife, was formally hired by Timely editor Joe Simon.

His duties were prosaic at first. "In those days [the artists] dipped the pen in ink, [so] I had to make sure the inkwells were filled", Lee recalled in 2009. "I went down and got them their lunch, I did proofreading, I erased the pencils from the finished pages for them".Marshaling his childhood ambition to be a writer, young Stanley Lieber made his comic-book debut with the text filler "Captain America Foils the Traitor's Revenge" in Captain America Comics #3 (cover-dated May 1941), using the pseudonym Stan Lee,which years later he would adopt as his legal name.[citation needed] Lee later explained in his autobiography and numerous other sources that he had intended to save his given name for more literary work. This initial story also introduced Captain America's trademark ricocheting shield-toss.

He graduated from writing filler to actual comics with a backup feature, "'Headline' Hunter, Foreign Correspondent", two issues later. Lee's first superhero co-creation was the Destroyer, in Mystic Comics #6 (August 1941). Other characters he co-created during this period fans and historians call the Golden Age of Comic Books include Jack Frost, debuting in U.S.A. Comics #1 (August 1941), and Father Time, debuting in Captain America Comics #6 (August 1941).

When Simon and his creative partner Jack Kirby left late in 1941, following a dispute with Goodman, the 30-year-old publisher installed Lee, just under 19 years old, as interim editor.The youngster showed a knack for the business that led him to remain as the comic-book division's editor-in-chief, as well as art director for much of that time, until 1972, when he would succeed Goodman as publisher.


Lee entered the United States Army in early 1942 and served within the US as a member of the Signal Corps, repairing telegraph polesand other communications equipment.He was later transferred to the Training Film Division, where he worked writing manuals, training films, slogans, and occasionally cartooning. His military classification, he says, was "playwright"; he adds that only nine men in the U.S. Army were given that title.Vincent Fago, editor of Timely's "animation comics" section, which put out humor and funny animal comics, filled in until Lee returned from his World War II military servicein 1945. Lee was inducted into the Signal Corps Regimental Association and was given honorary membership of the 2nd Battalion of 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord at the 2017 Emerald City Comic Con for his prior service.

In the mid-1950s, by which time the company was now generally known as Atlas Comics, Lee wrote stories in a variety of genres including romance, Westerns, humor, science fiction, medieval adventure, horror and suspense. In the 1950s, Lee teamed up with his comic book colleague Dan DeCarlo to produce the syndicated newspaper strip, My Friend Irma, based on the radio comedystarring Marie Wilson.By the end of the decade, Lee had become dissatisfied with his career and considered quitting the field.

Marvel revolution

In the late 1950s, DC Comics editor Julius Schwartz revived the superhero archetype and experienced a significant success with its updated version of the Flash, and later with super-team the Justice League of America. In response, publisher Martin Goodman assigned Lee to come up with a new superhero team. Lee's wife suggested that he experiment with stories he preferred, since he was planning on changing careers and had nothing to lose.

Lee acted on that advice, giving his superheroes a flawed humanity, a change from the ideal archetypes that were typically written for preteens. Before this, most superheroes were idealistically perfect people with no serious, lasting problems. Lee introduced complex, naturalistic characterswho could have bad tempers, fits of melancholy, and vanity; they bickered amongst themselves, worried about paying their bills and impressing girlfriends, got bored or were even sometimes physically ill.

The first superhero group Lee and artist Jack Kirby created together was the Fantastic Four, based on previous Kirby superhero team Challengers of the Unknown published by DC Comics. The team's immediate popularity led Lee and Marvel's illustrators to produce a cavalcade of new titles. Again working with Kirby, Lee co-created the Hulk,Thor,Iron Man,and the X-Men;with Bill Everett, Daredevil;and with Steve Ditko, Doctor Strange and Marvel's most successful character, Spider-Man,all of whom lived in a thoroughly shared universe.Lee and Kirby gathered several of their newly created characters together into the team title The Avengers and would revive characters from the 1940s such as the Sub-Mariner and Captain America.

Comics historian Peter Sanderson wrote that in the 1960s:

DC was the equivalent of the big Hollywood studios: After the brilliance of DC's reinvention of the superhero ... in the late 1950s and early 1960s, it had run into a creative drought by the decade's end. There was a new audience for comics now, and it wasn't just the little kids that traditionally had read the books. The Marvel of the 1960s was in its own way the counterpart of the French New Wave... Marvel was pioneering new methods of comics storytelling and characterization, addressing more serious themes, and in the process keeping and attracting readers in their teens and beyond. Moreover, among this new generation of readers were people who wanted to write or draw comics themselves, within the new style that Marvel had pioneered, and push the creative envelope still further.

Lee's revolution extended beyond the characters and storylines to the way in which comic books engaged the readership and built a sense of community between fans and creators. He introduced the practice of regularly including a credit panel on the splash page of each story, naming not just the writer and penciller but also the inker and letterer. Regular news about Marvel staff members and upcoming storylines was presented on the Bullpen Bulletins page, which (like the letter columns that appeared in each title) was written in a friendly, chatty style. Lee remarked that his goal was for fans to think of the comics creators as friends, and considered it a mark of his success on this front that, at a time when letters to other comics publishers were typically addressed "Dear Editor", letters to Marvel addressed the creators by first name (e.g. "Dear Stan and Jack"). By 1967, the brand was well-enough ensconced in popular culture that a March 3 WBAI radio program with Lee and Kirby as guests was titled "Will Success Spoil Spiderman"

Throughout the 1960s, Lee scripted, art-directed and edited most of Marvel's series, moderated the letters pages, wrote a monthly column called "Stan's Soapbox", and wrote endless promotional copy, often signing off with his trademark motto, "Excelsior!" (which is also the New York state motto). To maintain his workload and meet deadlines, he used a system that was used previously by various comic-book studios, but due to Lee's success with it, became known as the "Marvel Method". Typically, Lee would brainstorm a story with the artist and then prepare a brief synopsis rather than a full script. Based on the synopsis, the artist would fill the allotted number of pages by determining and drawing the panel-to-panel storytelling. After the artist turned in penciled pages, Lee would write the word balloons and captions, and then oversee the lettering and coloring. In effect, the artists were co-plotters, whose collaborative first drafts Lee built upon. Lee recorded messages to the newly formed Merry Marvel Marching Society fan club in 1965.

Following Ditko's departure from Marvel in 1966, John Romita Sr. became Lee's collaborator on The Amazing Spider-Man. Within a year, it overtook Fantastic Four to become the company's top seller. Lee and Romita's stories focused as much on the social and college lives of the characters as they did on Spider-Man's adventures.The stories became more topical, addressing issues such as the Vietnam War,political elections,and student activism.Robbie Robertson, introduced in The Amazing Spider-Man #51 (August 1967) was one of the first African-American characters in comics to play a serious supporting role. In the Fantastic Four series, the lengthy run by Lee and Kirby produced many acclaimed storylines as well as characters that have become central to Marvel, including the Inhumans and the Black Panther, an African king who would be mainstream comics' first black superhero.

The story frequently cited as Lee and Kirby's finest achievement is the three-part "Galactus Trilogy" that began in Fantastic Four#48 (March 1966), chronicling the arrival of Galactus, a cosmic giant who wanted to devour the planet, and his herald, the Silver Surfer. Fantastic Four #48 was chosen as #24 in the 100 Greatest Marvels of All Time poll of Marvel's readers in 2001. Editor Robert Greenberger wrote in his introduction to the story that "As the fourth year of the Fantastic Four came to a close, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby seemed to be only warming up. In retrospect, it was perhaps the most fertile period of any monthly title during the Marvel Age." Comics historian Les Daniels noted that "the mystical and metaphysical elements that took over the saga were perfectly suited to the tastes of young readers in the 1960s", and Lee soon discovered that the story was a favorite on college campuses. Lee and artist John Buscemalaunched The Silver Surfer series in August 1968.

The following year, Lee and Gene Colancreated the Falcon, comics' first African-American superhero in Captain America #117 (September 1969). Then in 1971, Lee indirectly helped reform the Comics Code.The U. S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare had asked Lee to write a comic-book story about the dangers of drugs and Lee conceived a three-issue subplot in The Amazing Spider-Man #96–98 (cover-datedMay–July 1971), in which Peter Parker's best friend becomes addicted to prescription drugs. The Comics Code Authority refused to grant its seal because the stories depicted drug use; the anti-drug context was considered irrelevant. With Goodman's cooperation and confident that the original government request would give him credibility, Lee had the story published without the seal. The comics sold well and Marvel won praise for its socially conscious efforts.The CCA subsequently loosened the Code to permit negative depictions of drugs, among other new freedoms.

Lee also supported using comic books to provide some measure of social commentary about the real world, often dealing with racism and bigotry. "Stan's Soapbox", besides promoting an upcoming comic book project, also addressed issues of discrimination, intolerance, or prejudice.

In 1972, Lee stopped writing monthly comic books to assume the role of publisher. His final issue of The Amazing Spider-Man was #110 (July 1972) and his last Fantastic Four was #125 (August 1972).

Later career



Lee in 1975

In later years, Lee became a figurehead and public face for Marvel Comics. He made appearances at comic book conventions around America, lecturing at colleges and participating in panel discussions. Lee and John Romita Sr. launched the Spider-Man newspaper comic strip on January 3, 1977.Lee's final collaboration with Jack Kirby, The Silver Surfer: The Ultimate Cosmic Experience, was published in 1978 as part of the Marvel Fireside Books series and is considered to be Marvel's first graphic novel. Lee and John Buscema produced the first issue of The Savage She-Hulk (February 1980), which introduced the female cousin of the Hulk and crafted a Silver Surfer story for Epic Illustrated #1 (Spring 1980). He moved to California in 1981 to develop Marvel's TV and movie properties. He was an executive producer for, and made cameo appearancesin Marvel film adaptations and other movies. He occasionally returned to comic book writing with various Silver Surfer projects including a 1982 one-shot drawn by John Byrne, the Judgment Day graphic novel illustrated by John Buscema, the Parablelimited series drawn by French artist Mœbius, and The Enslavers graphic novel with Keith Pollard. Lee was briefly president of the entire company, but soon stepped down to become publisher instead, finding that being president was too much about numbers and finance and not enough about the creative process he enjoyed.

Peter Paul and Lee began a new Internet-based superhero creation, production, and marketing studio, Stan Lee Media, in 1998.It grew to 165 people and went public through a reverse merger structured by investment banker Stan Medley in 1999, but, near the end of 2000, investigators discovered illegal stock manipulation by Paul and corporate officer Stephan Gordon.Stan Lee Media filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in February 2001. Paul was extradited to the U.S. from Brazil and pleaded guilty to violating SEC Rule 10b-5 in connection with trading of his stock in Stan Lee Media. Lee was never implicated in the scheme. In 2001, Lee, Gill Champion, and Arthur Lieberman formed POW! (Purveyors of Wonder) Entertainment to develop film, television and video game properties. Lee created the risqué animated superhero series Stripperella for Spike TV. In 2004 POW! Entertainment went public. Also that year, Lee announced a superhero program that would feature Ringo Starr, the former Beatle, as the lead character.Additionally, in August of that year, Lee announced the launch of Stan Lee's Sunday Comics,a short-lived subscription service hosted by Komikwerks.com. From July 2006 until September 2007 Lee hosted, co-created, executive produced, and judged the reality television game show competition Who Wants to be a Superhero on the SciFi Channel.On March 15, 2007, after Stan Lee Media had been purchased by Jim Nesfield, the company filed a lawsuit against Marvel Entertainment for $5 billion, claiming Lee had given his rights to several Marvel characters to Stan Lee Media in exchange for stock and a salary. On June 9, 2007, Stan Lee Media sued Lee; his newer company, POW! Entertainment; and POW! subsidiary QED Entertainment.

In 2008, Lee wrote humorous captions for the political fumetti book Stan Lee Presents Election Daze: What Are They Really Saying?. In April of that year, Brighton Partners and Rainmaker Animationannounced a partnership POW! to produce a CGI film series, Legion of 5. Other projects by Lee announced in the late 2000s included a line of superhero comics for Virgin Comics, a TV adaptation of the novel Hero, a foreword to Skyscraperman by skyscraper fire-safety advocate and Spider-Man fan Dan Goodwin, a partnership with Guardian Media Entertainment and The Guardian Project to create NHL superhero mascots and work with the Eagle Initiative program to find new talent in the comic book field.



Lee promoting Stan Lee's Kids Universe at the 2011 New York Comic Con

In October 2011, Lee announced he would partner with 1821 Comics on a multimedia imprint for children, Stan Lee's Kids Universe, a move he said addressed the lack of comic books targeted for that demographic; and that he was collaborating with the company on its futuristic graphic novel Romeo & Juliet: The War, by writer Max Work and artist Skan Srisuwan. At the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con International, Lee announced his YouTube channel, Stan Lee's World of Heroes, which airs programs created by Lee, Mark Hamill, Peter David, Adrianne Curry and Bonnie Burton, among others.Lee wrote the book Zodiac, released in January 2015, with Stuart Moore. The film Stan Lee's Annihilator, based on a Chinese prisoner-turned-superhero named Ming and in production since 2013, was released in 2015.

In his later career, Lee's contributions continued to expand outside the style that he helped pioneer. An example of this is his first work for DC Comics in the 2000s, launching the Just Imagine... series, in which Lee re-imagined the DC superheroes Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and the Flash. Manga projects involving Lee include Karakuridôji Ultimo, a collaboration with Hiroyuki Takei, Viz Media and Shueisha, and Heroman, serialized in Square Enix's Monthly Shōnen Gangan with the Japanese company Bones. In 2011, Lee started writing a live-action musical, The Yin and Yang Battle of Tao.

This period also saw a number of collaborators honor Lee for his influence on the comics industry. In 2006, Marvel commemorated Lee's 65 years with the company by publishing a series of one-shot comics starring Lee himself meeting and interacting with many of his co-creations, including Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, the Thing, Silver Surfer, and Doctor Doom. These comics also featured short pieces by such comics creators as Joss Whedon and Fred Hembeck, as well as reprints of classic Lee-written adventures. At the 2007 Comic-Con International, Marvel Legends introduced a Stan Lee action figure. The body beneath the figure's removable cloth wardrobe is a re-used mold of a previously released Spider-Man action figure, with minor changes.Comikaze Expo, Los Angeles' largest comic book convention, was rebranded as Stan Lee's Comikaze Presented by POW! Entertainmentin 2012.

At the 2016 Comic-Con International, Lee introduced his digital graphic novel Stan Lee's 'God Woke', with text originally written as a poem he presented at Carnegie Hall in 1972. The print-book version won the 2017 Independent Publisher Book Awards' Outstanding Books of the Year Independent Voice Award.


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