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Getting to Know & Remembering Comic Icon Stan Lee

Name: Stanley Martin Lieber

Born: December 28, 1922 in New York City, New York

Died: November 12, 2018 (aged 95) in

Los Angeles, California, U.S

Famous for: Between 1961 and 1969, his greatest sustained burst of creative activity, he co-created a vast array of iconic characters, including Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, the Avengers, the Incredible Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, Black Panther, Daredevil, Nick Fury, Doctor Strange and Falcon.

First Comic Book: a prose story in one of the Captain America books, a two-page story set in type.

HISTORY

The son of poor Jewish immigrants from Romania, Stanley Martin Lieber he later shortened it legally) never became the novelist he aspired to be while growing up on New York’s Upper West Side. But fantasizing about radioactive arachnids, magnetic force fields and vixens such as Black Widow gave him a great living and a legacy that will outlive us all.

In 1939, Lee’s uncle helped get him an assistant’s job at Timely Comics, a company the boss, Martin Goodman (a relative of Lee’s), later renamed Marvel. Showing early promise providing text for Captain America, Lee was installed as a Marvel editor at the age of 18, an “interim” gig he ended up keeping until 1972. For much of that time, Lee plodded away in the Marvel writers’ bullpen to the point of burnout. Only after his wife, Joan, pushed him to create characters “the way you’ve always wanted to” did Lee’s career take off.

Between 1961 and 1965, in one of pop culture’s most remarkable creative bursts, Lee, working with freelance artists including Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, created the key characters in what became known as the Marvel Revolution. (Kirby’s estate would later sue for pieces of that action.) Superheroes were no longer two-dimensional goody-goodies but quirky, angst-ridden and flawed. The Fantastic Four bickered. The Hulk and the X-Men struggled with their alter egos. Even Spider-Man, a character who came to Lee—or so the story goes—as he observed a fly walking up a wall, was a wreck inside.

Today, Lee’s creations are enjoying their widest audiences ever. After declaring bankruptcy in 1996, Marvel powered back with blockbuster movies, digital entertainment and, yes, more comic books. Disney acquired the company for $4.2 billion in 2009, though, surprisingly, Lee didn’t see a dime of that. By then he had formed his own company, POW! Entertainment. But he will always be Mr. Marvel.

Lee himself summed up his relationship to Judaism and its influence on his work in a 2003 interview – “To me you can wrap all of Judaism up in one sentence, and that is, ‘Do not do unto others…’” he said. “All I tried to do in my stories was show that there’s some innate goodness in the human condition. And there’s always going to be evil; we should always be fighting evil.