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How Stan Lee Revolutionized Pop Culture Through Comic Books

A living legend left us on Nov. 12, 2018. A man whose creative genius and eccentric enthusiasm laid the groundwork for one of the most successful multimedia entertainment companies of all time. I’m talking, of course, about the unforgettable Stan Lee.

Born Stanley Lieber in 1922, he used the pseudonym Stan Lee for his debut comic writing credit in Captain America Comics #3 in 1941. He used a pen name because he was a little embarrassed of being a writer of comics and intended on using his real name for when he wrote the Great American Novel. He later got over it, but the name stuck and the larger than life character of Stan Lee was born.

Stan the Man would go on to co-create some of the most iconic characters of all time. He and Jack “The King” Kirby created The Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, and the X-Men. He created Spider-Man and Doctor Strange with Steve Ditko, and Daredevil with Bill Everett. Not only did he have a hand in the creation of these incredible heroes, but their villains and supporting characters as well.

To meet deadlines Stan used a fairly common comic creation system, but because of his success with it, it’s now known as “The Marvel Method.” He would outline the plot he had in mind and turn it in to the artist. The penciller would then plot out the pages and panels, and afterwards Stan would write the dialog. He scripted, art-directed and edited most of Marvel’s comics throughout the 1960’s but stopped in 1972 when he took on the role of publisher.

He became the face of Marvel Comics. Almost its mascot. I remember seeing him on TV before the Marvel Action Hour cartoon block in the ‘90s. I would wonder who that old man was and why was he so jazzed about cartoons? Little did I knew he was the guy who created them in the first place. Calling fans “true believers” and closing with his (and New York’s) motto “Excelsior!” always got me pumped.

Last year, Stan had lost his wife Joan. They had been married for 70 years, and afterwards Stan had been through the ringer with bouts of pneumonia, but also with shady business associates taking advantage of him. He’s finally at peace now, but it’s a shame he had to spend his last year in such turmoil. A guy that preached tolerance and had such a keen sense of morality truly deserved better.

Rest in peace Stan, you made a True Believer out of me.

Excelsior!

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