Stan Lee, writer, editor, publisher, former chairman of Marvel Comics, and one of the most influential and best known personalities in the comics industry, died November 12 in Hollywood, Calif. He was 95.
Lee was a beloved figure in American popular culture, and the announcement of his death prompted tributes and obituaries across the media landscape from entities including: Marvel/Disney, The New York Times, The Guardian, Vanity Fair, CNN, The Hollywood Reporter, and many other media outlets. Tributes from artists and other individuals throughout the entertainment industry continue to pop up on Twitter and other social media platforms.
This is bitter news. We were lucky to have him.— GAIL SIMONE (@GailSimone) November 12, 2018
Untold millions of lives made better by stories.
Endless people who learned responsibility from Spider-man, acceptance from the X-men, self-forgiveness from the Hulk.
Stan Lee put better heroes in our vision.
Forever the Man.
As I'm sitting here trying to put words in the mouths of the characters he made immortal, characters that have literally changed my life, all I can really come up with is: Thank you, Stan.— Jason Aaron (@jasonaaron) November 12, 2018
Lee began his career in 1939 at Timely Comics (which later became Marvel) as a lowly assistant. But over the course of his career, Lee presided over the growth of Marvel Comics into a publishing and entertainment powerhouse while also helping to create some of the most popular superheroes of the Marvel Universe—indeed, in all of American popular culture.
He began his career as gofer and, after a stint in the army during WWII, returned to the company in 1945. He began writing for Marvel shortly after, working on a wide variety of comics genres from westerns and science fiction to romance, horror, and suspense.
In the late 1950s, Lee was assigned to come up with a new superhero comics series. He teamed with artist Jack Kirby—now considered one of, if not the, greatest superhero artists of all time—to create The Fantastic Four, a new kind of superhero team without secret identities, whose headquarters was based in a skyscraper in midtown Manhattan. This innovative superhero series is credited with reviving the genre in the mid 1960s. The success of the series led to other equally successful collaborative creations with Lee, among them Spider-Man and Doctor Strange, with Steve Ditko, and The Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, X-Men, Black Panther, and The Avengers, also with Kirby.
While Lee is celebrated for his innovative publishing strategies, adding emotional and social components to superhero characters, promotional and marketing flair and good humor, he has nevertheless also been criticized for receiving too much credit and getting far more attention than the talented artists and writers with whom he collaborated. He is also credited with developing the "Marvel method," a comics industry production technique in which Lee would outline a comics plot, the artist would draw the storyline, and Lee would add dialogue to the word balloons at the end.
Despite the criticisms, after leaving Marvel and overseeing a series of less-than-successful comics-related media ventures, Lee evolved into an American comic book celebrity—helped along by his wildly popular cameos in Marvel superhero movies—and became the face of the American superhero comic book industry.