Stan Lee: Excelsior

Stan Lee was born Stanley Martin Lieber; December 28, 1922 and is an American comic book writer, editor, actor, producer, publisher, television personality, and the former president and chairman of Marvel Comics. Three weeks ago Stan Lee turned 87 years old. In comics for over 65 years he is a legend in the industry. He shook up Marvel and is responsible for much of it’s modern day success.

He worked with some of the great names in the comic world in the early days of Marvel success. With several artist co-creators, most notably Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, he co-created Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, Iron Man, the Hulk, Thor, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, and many other fictional characters, introducing a new age in superhero comic books. In addition, he headed the first major successful challenge to the industry’s censorship organization, the Comics Code Authority and forced it to reform its policies. Stan subsequently led the expansion of Marvel Comics from a small division of a publishing house to a large multimedia corporation.

I was part of the young readers hooked by early Marvel titles. Fantastic Four was my favorate but Spider-Man was a close second. The sixties was a great time to read comics. I remember Stan for “Stan’s Soapbox” a monthly column on the  Bullpen Bulletins page a creation of Stan he would always end what he had to say with his trademark phrase “Excelsior!” (which is also the New York state motto). He had a relationship with the public that few writers and comic creators ever established. You felt like Stan was a regular guy, one of us. Stan Lee introduced the practice of including a credit panel on the splash page of each story, naming not just the writer and penciller but also the inker and letterer. And his Bullpen Bulletins gave regular news about Marvel staff members and upcoming storylines. Very friendly to readers.

The “Marvel style” of comic-book creation was very popular with those at Marvel, the writer would brainstorm with the artist then submit a brief synopsis for his guide. The artist would panel the art based on the synopsis, he would fill the allotted number of pages by determining and drawing the panel-to-panel storytelling. Then the writer (Stan Lee) would write the word balloons and captions, and then oversee the lettering and coloring. All creators had input in the final product. The artists were co-plotters, whose collaborative first drafts the writer built upon.

Marvel was a collaboration of great creators and artist that Stan worked with for many years. “Make mine Marvel” was the cry of many readers in the 60’s and 70’s eventually making Marvel the number one comic publishing company. Stan supported using comic books to provide some measure of social commentary about the real world, often dealing with racism and bigotry. He influenced the change in the Comics Code which permited negative depictions of drugs, among other new freedoms for comic creators.

He was the best working with the best for many years all I have to say about that is “Nuff Said”. We wish Stan well and hope he lives many more years to see the evolution of the comic world he helped create. See you at the comic shop. Stay tuned comic faithful for More. 🙂 Walt