Stanley Lieber wanted to write the great American novel. Finding a writing job in the meantime wasn’t easy and what he could find was working for Timely Comics. Not wanting the “stigma” of comics at the time to negatively impact his goal as an author, Leiber took the pen name that would soon make him known around the world for those very comics, becoming the ambassador of Timely’s rebranding as Marvel Comics. It would bring him more fame and fans than he ever thought possible. He created a number of cultural icons and many of those creations would go on past comics into television (both live-action and animated), movies, video games, and not just in the United States. And they would know him as Stan Lee.
Yesterday came the news that Stan Lee passed away. I wonder if one of the people writing his obituary, one of the writing jobs he used to have, will be the next celebrity?
We don’t have an exact cause of death, but Lee really had some rough last few years. His wife, the one who kept him in comics, passed away. He created a media company that was taken from him and tried to sue for control of his name and creations. Recently he dealt with elder abuse as his manager tried to use him. It’s terrible that anyone would take someone so important to a medium and use and hurt him like this because they don’t care about comics. Heck, this crap shouldn’t happen to anyone. I would be remiss not to scold these scumbags.
Now that we have that out of the way let us not dwell on the negatives. Let’s look at the positives and see just what Stan Lee brought us.
First here’s a quick gallery of the heroes he created or co-created for Marvel:
And that’s not even close to all of them. He also created many of their supporting cast: Aunt May, Betty Grant, Pepper Potts, Jane Foster…the list goes on. Let’s not forget villains he created but villains tend to be a longer list. The heroes have to fight somebody. And he worked on other projects we’ve looked at over the years like Mighty 7, Time Jumper, Who Wants To Be A Superhero, and a bunch of others. Granted, one of them was Stripperella, but they can’t all be good ideas, right? He also worked on an attempt to make a cartoon about a superheroic Arnold Schwarzenegger until it came out he wasn’t a very good husband, but I kind of wish that series happened. And that he was a good husband but it’s Hollywood AND politics. I like to choose my fights better. His last comic project was a webcomic called Backchannel, about a hacktavist group (that’s an activist group who hacks stuff).
He’s most known for his promotion of Marvel Comics. When Spider-Man got married to Mary Jane he performed the “ceremony”. He’s done narration for Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends (although syndicated airings annoyingly took his narration out) and the 1980s Incredible Hulk, as well as playing characters in future incarnations of Spidey and Hulk. He did the hosting for Marvel Action Hour/Universe and cameoed in every Marvel movie he could, even if they weren’t characters he created. The man hasn’t been without controversy when it comes to some of his fellow creators but when it came to promoting the brand and meeting the fans you can’t say a bad thing about him. Stan’s last tweet was to honor the Veterans on Veteran’s Day.
We lost one of the great ambassadors for comics at a time when comics, especially Marvel, is at a huge low. The industry needs to recreate itself as Marvel moves away from what made it great to become a “lifestyle brand” and license source instead of a superhero comic company. Stan Lee took on a pseudonym to distance himself from comics and ended up become one of the best things that happened to comics. I fear there won’t be another like him and that’s the biggest shame of all outside of what was done to the man in his last year. Thank you, Stan Lee, for all the good you brought to this medium. When it comes to your contributions there can never be ’nuff said. Hear the fandom as they cry out…EXCELSIOR!