He was born Stanley Martin Lieber on December 28, 1922 and on November 12, 2018, at the age of 95, Stan Lee died.
If you were involved with comics, whether it was through cartoons, movies, or comic books themselves, you knew the name. Stan Lee was an icon in comic books, just as big as the characters he created and wrote about! While Stan Lee’s road to success is paved with debate, one thing for certain is that he was the face of the comic book industry for over 50 years.
I don’t want to discuss his professional history or life. Those are parts of his life which have been talked about and discussed thousands of times. He was born, he was raised, he first worked for Timely/Atlas Comics, and was promoted to editor at the age of 19. These aren’t important, they’re embedded in almost everyone’s mind in this industry. Unlike other professionals who, upon retirement. is rarely mentioned, Stan never faded away. If anything, he lived by one of Freddie Mercury’s mantras, “It’s better to burn out than to fade away!” Stan Lee may have officially retired from writing comic stories, but he worked up to the bitter end of his life. Doing what he loved best, creating vivid characters, and telling amazing and complex stories.
There is an entire Stan Lee which no one really knows about. The independent creator who, when pushed to retire from Marvel Comics, didn’t want to sit back and grow old. He continued onward, blazing his way, leaving his mark everywhere he went.
During his time at Timely/Atlas Comics he helped transform them into the Marvel Comics we know today. He helped by taking all the then-popular comic genres such as western, romance, and horror tales and dragged them into the new age of superhero comics. The characters he created, wrote and breathed life into are well-known today and can be seen on the big and small screens alike.
Stan Lee had an effect the comic industry for well over 50 years his passing will impact it for years to come. You know his influence was strong.
When startup companies, such as Image Comics, credit Stan Lee as their inspiration and a series such as Spawn dedicated their first issue to Stan ‘The Man’ Lee, then you know the man has accomplished great things. To commemorate his 65 years with the company and all he did for them, Marvel published a series of one-shot comics starring Lee as a character meeting and interacting with many of his co-creations, including Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, the Thing, Silver Surfer, and Doctor Doom.
Stan Lee’s impact on the comic world continued long after he parted ways from Marvel Comics in 1998. The new incoming Editor-in-Chief had let Lee go because they couldn’t justify his salary as simply being a Marvel Comics figurehead. Lee had been the figurehead of Marvel Comics from the 1970s until the late 90s. Until his departure, every issue of a Marvel Comic began with “Stan Lee presents [INSERT NAME OF SERIES]” The removal in 1998 was a hard pill for fans to swallow, However, it didn’t stop The Man! He took his retirement with a smile but didn’t let them send him to pasture.
In 1998, Stan Lee created ‘Stan Lee Media,’ this with the help of some partners morphed into POW! (Purveyors of Wonder) Entertainment which developed into publication, film, television and animation. One notable animated creation was “Stripperella” for Spike TV, a sexy superheroine who appearance was based on Pamela Anderson, who also voiced the role. Another well-known, albeit short lived, show was a reality TV game show competition called “Who Wants to be a Superhero” on the SciFi Channel (a show that this writer did indeed audition for the first season!).
Around 2002, Stan Lee did the unthinkable…he wrote a comic series for DC Comics. The project was called ‘Just Imagine Stan Lee Creating…’ It was Stan giving major DC characters the ‘Marvel’ treatment. It was a look at how Stan Lee would have envisioned these characters if he created them. There were 13 books in the series which could be read separately or together as an arc. The series consisted of Aquaman, Batman, Catwoman, Crisis, Flash, Green Lantern, JLA, Robin, Sandman, Shazam!, Superman, Wonder Woman and of course like most DC series at the time, a Secret Files and Origins book. In 2004, he wrote a full issue of DC Comics Presents Superman; this wasn’t a huge hit, but is still a hidden gem in the back-issue bins of comics.
Stan would frequently return to Marvel to work on various projects. In 2002, he wrote the comic book adaption of the first Spider-Man movie.
Although nothing ever became as huge as his original characters from the 1960s, Lee never stopped writing comics or creating characters. He continued to work and create up to a year before his death with countless TV, movie, and multimedia streaming projects. In 2010, Stan Lee helped found a charity organization called The Stan Lee Foundation, which focuses its time and resources on literary education and the promotion of culture and arts.
In closing, I’m going to steal a line Tweeted earlier by Chris Evans; “There will never be another Stan Lee.” Simple words which hit one right in the would-be feels, punching you in the gut.
Goodbye Stan, thanks for all the hard work, and may you find a new creative spark in the afterlife.