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Comic Book Legend: Stan Lee

Updated on January 30, 2020
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Readmikenow enjoys writing about unique and interesting people. He likes to learn about individuals who live or have lived unusual lives.

Stan Lee
Stan Lee

Stan Lee was an American comic book producer, writer, publisher, and editor. He began working for a family-run business that eventually grew to become Marvel Comics. Lee would become a creative leader at Marvel for decades. His contributions to the company helped Marvel Comics expand from being the division of a small publishing house into a multimedia corporation. A company that became a dominant influence in the comics industry.

Young Stan Lee
Young Stan Lee

Early Life

On December 28, 1922, Stanley Martin Lieber was born in Manhattan, New York City. His parents were Romanian-born Jewish immigrants. His mother's name was Celia and his father's name was Jack Lieber. During his childhood, Lee's family moved to a new home on Fort Washington Avenue. He had a younger brother named Larry Lieber. During his teenage years, his family moved to The Bronx. Lee attended high school in the Bronx. His school was called DeWill Clinton High School. When he was young, Lee worked part-time jobs. One was writing press releases for the National Tuberculosis Center and obituaries for a new service. He delivered sandwiches to offices in Rockefeller Center for the Jack May pharmacy. Lee also worked as an usher at the Rivoli Theater on Broadway, an office boy for a trouser manufacturer and sold subscriptions for the newspaper New York Herald Tribune. When he was fifteen, Lee won a high school essay competition held by the New York Herald Tribune. The newspaper told Lee he should look into being a professional writer. He later told people this experience changed his life. He graduated high school in 1939 at sixteen and a half. He then became a member of the WPA Federal Theater Project.

Early Career

Stan Lee got help from his uncle Robbie Solomon in 1939. He was able to work for the comic-book publisher Martin Goodman's company. Lee worked at the Timely Comic Division. This is what would eventually become Marvel Comics. During the early years, Lee's duties consisted of making sure the inkwells of the comic artists were filled. He would also get them lunch. He did proofreading and erased the pencil markings from finished pages and more. In 1941, Lee made his writing debut in Captain America Comics #3 called Captain America Foils the Traitor's Revenge. He provided text filler for the comic. It is the comic that introduced the ricocheting shield-toss of Captain America. This is when he started using Stan Lee as his name. During later years, he would make this his legal name.

Destroyer Comic
Destroyer Comic

Career Advancement

After writing filler he was given a chance to write actual comics. It was with a comic book known as Headline Hunter, Foreign Correspondent. After two issues, Lee was a co-creator of his first superhero in 1941. It was The Destroyer published in Mystic Comics. This was a time considered the Golden Age of Comic Books. Les also created other superheroes such as Father Time that debuted in a Captain America Comic and Jack Frost that was in the U.S.A. Comics. Some creative people left the publishing company in 1941 and Lee was made interim editor at the age of 19. He displayed an ability for the business and Lee soon became editor-in-chief as well as the company's art director.

Stan Lee in Army
Stan Lee in Army

Military Service

Lee began serving in the U.S. Army in 1942. He started with the Signal Corps fixing communications equipment such as telegraph poles and more. Lee was soon transferred to the Training Film Division. There he wrote slogans, manuals as well as training films. He even did some cartooning. During this time, Lee was serving in a division that included many men who would be famous in the future. This included Theodore Geisel who would become known as Dr. Seuss, Academy Award-winning director Frank Capra and well-known cartoonist for the New Yorker, Charles Addams. During his time in the military, Lee would get letters weekly from editors telling him what they need to written and giving him a deadline.

My Friend Irma
My Friend Irma

Atlas Comics

During the 1950s, Lee worked for Atlas Comics writing various types of stories including suspense, romance, Westerns, adventure, humor, science fiction and more. He also worked with Dan DeCarlo to create My Friend Irma, which was a syndicated newspaper strip. DC comics was having success with superheroes such as an updated version of the Flash as well as the Justice League of America. Lee's employer assigned him to create a new superhero team. Lee and Jack Kirby then worked together to create the Fantastic Four. It was a huge success. Lee and Jack Kirby then created the Hulk, the X-men as well as Thor and Iron Man. They eventually created Marvel's most successful comic character known as Spider-Man. The also worked together to create the Avengers as well as bring other characters back to life such as Captain America and Sub-Mariner.

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

Writer, Art Director, And Editor

Lee eventually became a writer as well as art director and editor for the majority of Marvel's series. He wrote Stan's Soapbox, which was a monthly column. Lee also wrote a significant amount of promotional copy. Lee's system to handle his workload because known as the Marvel Method. He would go over a story with an artist and create a synopsis. The artist would then complete a determined number of pages and have a panel-to-panel story. Once this was done, Lee would write the comic's captions and word balloons.

Stan Lee at Comic Convention
Stan Lee at Comic Convention

Later Time At Marvel

Lee eventually became the Marvel Comics public face and figurehead. He would represent the company around the country at comic book conventions. He would participate in panel discussions and give lectures at colleges. The last time he worked with Jack Kirby was on The Silver Surfer: The Ultimate Cosmic Experience. It was published in 1978. Lee worked with John Buscema to create The Savage She-Hulk in 1980. It introduced the comic world to Hulk's female cousin.

Stan Lee cameo appearances in Marvel movies
Stan Lee cameo appearances in Marvel movies

Television And Movies

In 1981, Lee moved to California. His job was to develop movie and television properties for Marvel. He was an executive producer and made cameo appearances in various films that adapted Marvel comics into movies. Lee was president of Marvel comics for a brief period of time. He left to become a publisher. Lee liked the creative process more than numbers and finance.

Marvel one-shot comic
Marvel one-shot comic

Marvel Honors Lee

Marvel published a series of one-shot comics in 2006 to recognize Lee's 65 years with the company. The comics featured Lee as himself meeting and interacting with many of the comic characters he co-created. This included Doctor Doom, Spider-Man, Silver Surfer, the Thing, and others.

Stan Lee star on Hollywood Walk of Fame
Stan Lee star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

Death

In 2017 Lee checked into a hospital for shortness of breath and an irregular heartbeat. He was shortly discharged and returned to work. Lee was busy promoting the feature movie Black Panther that would soon be released. During this time, his daughter and others were battling over his care and estate. On November 12, 2018, Stan Lee died of congestive heart failure at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA. He was cremated. His ashes were given to his family.

Stan Lee Biography

© 2020 Readmikenow

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    • Readmikenow profile imageAUTHOR

      Readmikenow 

      4 months ago

      Priya, Thanks. I agree, I looked at a few of his interviews and he really enjoyed his work.

    • Readmikenow profile imageAUTHOR

      Readmikenow 

      4 months ago

      Liz, thanks. I agree, he was a very gifted person.

    • Priya Barua profile image

      Priya Barua 

      4 months ago

      Glad you thought about covering Stan Lee. Although I have never read his comics, I'm an absolute fan of the Marvel Movie Franchise. From his interviews, I think he also had a sense of humor.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      4 months ago from UK

      He was certainly a very talented person. I like his cameos. They remind me of Alfred Hitchcock's cameos.

    • Readmikenow profile imageAUTHOR

      Readmikenow 

      4 months ago

      Ken, thanks. I agree, Stan Lee is an American comic book Icon.

    • Ken Burgess profile image

      Ken Burgess 

      4 months ago from Florida

      Well done, good read.

      Marvel Comics has been interwoven with American lore and history, its hard to imagine someone who has long lived in this country not knowing about Spider Man or Captain America.

      Stan Lee had always been part of Marvel, its literal father, so many decades, he is as well known as any of the characters he created.

    • Readmikenow profile imageAUTHOR

      Readmikenow 

      4 months ago

      Flourish, thanks for the comment. I agree, his story is inspirational.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      4 months ago from USA

      It’s inspiring how he worked his way up in the business and became so sought after and respected. It’s sad that his family fought over his money in the end like they did.

    • Readmikenow profile imageAUTHOR

      Readmikenow 

      4 months ago

      T thanks for reading it. I found Stan Lee's life story quite fascinating.

    • tsadjatko profile image

      4 months ago from now on

      Terrific exposé Mike. I knew very little of this, basically only that he is a comic book celeb. I just saw him on an episode of The Big Bang Theory last night! Now I know the whole story!

      Thanks.

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