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In Memoriam

It is with great sadness that we reflect on comic book icon and legend Stan Lee, who has died at age 95.

Growing up in Manhattan, Stanley Martin Lieber loved a good story more than anything and knew from an early age that he wanted to craft stories of his own.  As a young man, he worked various jobs until taking a position as an assistant at Timely Comics in 1939. 

While performing his various duties, Stanley expressed a desire to create his own stories, and in May of 1941 he got his first shot in Captain America Comics #3, with his story “Captain America Foils the Traitor’s Revenge,” by Stan Lee. 

Two issues later, Mr. Lee graduated from filler to a backup feature with, “Headline Hunter, Foreign Correspondent.”  He went on to co-create his first superhero, the Destroyer, in Mystic Comics #6 that same year as well as other Golden Age characters Jack Frost and Father Time. 
At age 19, Stan Lee became the interim editor at Timely Comics, showing a flair for business that led him down the path of editor-in-chief and art director.  He remained in that position for more than thirty years, through the company’s transition to Atlas and finally Marvel where he would later become publisher. 

Mr. Lee spent time in the Army 1942 to 1945 performing various roles including writing training materials, after which he returned to Timely Comics.  His early work was largely influenced by crime dramas, westerns, science fiction, and other popular movies of the time. 

Toward the end of the 1950’s, Mr. Lee considered quitting the Comics industry but changed his mind after his wife suggested that he do the kind of comics he wanted to.  The result was the first issue of “The Fantastic Four” in 1960 he co-created with artist Jack Kirby.  Stan Lee described the four reluctant superheroes as normal people that he could relate to, including all their faults and shortcomings. 

Creating complex characters that possessed real human elements was groundbreaking.  Fans loved reading about superhumans that besides saving the day, also dealt with everyday problems like vanity, jealousy, paying their bills, or impressing their girlfriends.   Stan Lee drew out his stories over multiple issues, not to make money, but to better develop characters and add to the depth of the overall story.   He even gave love to his villains, explaining the reason why they turned to villainy, which was unheard of in that time.

The success of the Fantastic Four led to surplus of new titles including: Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, the X-Men, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, and Spider-Man.  Mr. Lee and Mr. Kirby also assembled The Avengers gathering several of their new characters, as well as, reviving some older ones such as Captain America and Sub-Mariner.

Throughout the 1960s, Mr. Lee edited and art-directed most of Marvel’s series, moderated the letters pages, and wrote a monthly column called “Stan’s Soapbox,” leading Marvel’s rise to success and cementing the company as the real deal and fan favorite.

In 1972, Stan Lee stepped back from writing monthly comics, assuming the role of publisher.  He became the face of Marvel, making regular appearances at comic book conventions and speaking at lectures around America.  In the 80’s he turned his focus to Marvel film and television, as well as a number of various projects.  He continued writing periodically throughout the 80’s and 90’s and undertook a number of different ventures. 

Throughout the years Stan Lee has won a number of awards and accolades including: the Inkpot Award, The Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame, Jack Kirby Hall of Fame, the Saturn Award, the National Medal of Arts, the Hugo, the Scream Award, Visual Effects Society Award Producers Guild of America, the National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and our very own top honor, the Julie Award.

Stan Lee was a true gentleman and loved his fans dearly.  After the 2017 Dragon Con parade in which Mr. Lee was the Grand Marshall, his car pulled into the carport of the Marriott so he could unload.  Even though he was hot and tired from the procession, he spotted two cosplayers dressed as Spider-Man and Mary Jane in a wedding dress.  He had his assistant chase the pair down and come back to his car where he proceeded to take picture after picture with the couple.  The pure joy on his face told the story of his life, the love for his work and the love for those who enjoyed and still enjoy it. 

Excelsior, Stan Lee!  You will truly be missed.

Stan Lee

Stan Lee

Stan Lee