April 22, 2020

SATURDAY MORNING MASTERS: STAN LEE


STAN LEE
(December 28, 1922-November 12, 2018)

Notable Roles: Writer, editor, publisher, producer, Stan Lee, Willie Lumpkin, Mayor of Super Hero City, The Genralissimo, Papa Smurf, Future Tony Stark, Boss Awesome/Fred’s Dad, Stan the Janitor, Mr. Mystic

Born Stanley Lieber, Lee always dreamed about writing the “great American novel”. When he ended up working for Timely Comics (later Marvel), he adopted his pen name when he worked his way up to being a writer so as not to hurt his chances to be accepted as a legitimate writer. When Joe Simon and Jack Kirby left the company in 1941 due to creative differences with publisher Martin Goodman, Lee was promoted to interim editor at age 19 while also continuing to write. After serving in WWII, Lee returned to Timely, now called Atlas Comics, and wrote a variety of genres throughout the 1950s; becoming increasingly dissatisfied with his work. When rival DC Comics had reinvigorated the superhero genre in what became known as the Silver Age of Comics, Goodman tasked Lee with doing the same for Atlas. Since he was planning a career change, his wife, Joan, encouraged Lee to just do the kind of story he wanted. He decided to create heroes that weren’t gods, but instead flawed, real humans, and with Kirby made the Fantastic Four. Their popularity led to even more creations under the imperfect hero philosophy, such as Hulk, Thor, Iron Man and the X-Men with Kirby, Daredevil with Bill Everett, and Dr. Strange and Spider-Man with Steve Ditko, which would culminate in the Avengers and revivals of Golden Age characters Sub-Mariner and Captain America. Lee introduced full credits for each issue, engaged readers directly in the “Bullpen Bulletins” found in every issue as well as with their fan club called the Merry Marvel Marching Society, and developed the “Marvel Method” of scripting to alleviate some of the pressure of writing and editing most of the company’s output. He also had some input in the productions of the first Marvel-based cartoons, including Fantastic Four and Spider-Man. Lee’s bombastic personality led to his becoming a figurehead and the public face of Marvel. In 1981, he moved to California to oversee the development of Marvel’s properties into other media; particularly as part of Marvel’s animation division: Marvel Productions. He would earn the title “The King of Cameos” as he came to be featured in some way in many of Marvel’s various TV shows and movies (as well as many outside of the company); sometimes as a narrator, sometimes as himself, other times as a minor character. At one point, Lee was named President of Marvel, but stepped back down to publisher in order to keep involved with the creative output. Lee moved away from Marvel in 1990, but remained a salaried employee as chairman emeritus. He went on to co-found several media companies, including Stan Lee Media and POW! Entertainment, and worked on a variety of comic and other media projects for them and others. Lee’s later life was full of great upheaval. His wife of 59 years died in 2017. At the same time, it was said he was the victim of elder abuse from his two businesses managers that wanted to get their hands on his assets. Lee sued POW! following their acquisition by Camsing International over a contract that granted them exclusive use of his likeness and that POW! took over his various social media accounts. The suit was dropped in 2018. Lee also retired from the grueling convention circuit in 2017, but told friend and colleague Roy Thomas he was still up for more cameos as long as he didn’t have to travel. Lee died in November of 2018 of cardiac arrest with respiratory failure and congestive heart failure. Tributes for Lee were added to the end of Once Upon A Deadpool, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Avengers: Endgame, and in the Marvel Studios logo for Captain Marvel.

Saturday Credits:
Fantastic Four (1967)
Spider-Man (1967)
The New Fantastic Four
Spider-Woman
Spider-Man (1981)
Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends
The Incredible Hulk (1982)
Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies
Pryde of the X-Men
X-Men: The Animated Series
Biker Mice from Mars (1993)
Spider-Man: The Animated Series
Silver Surfer
Avengers: United They Stand
Spider-Man Unlimited
X-Men: Evolution
The Spectacular Spider-Man
Wolverine and the X-Men
Big Hero 6: The Series
Marvel’s Spider-Man

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