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Stan Lee - 1922 - 2018

Stan LeeStan Lee - Stanley Martin Lieber

Born December 28, 1922 with the name Stanley Martin Lieber. Usually billed as the original creator for Amazing Spider-Man and many other Marvel Comics characters, nearly 100% cameo appearances in Marvel-based movies, and perhaps the most famous in the popular imagination as the man most associated with comic books.

The basic history of Stan Lee is that he got his position because in the early days of Timely Comics (which became Marvel later) his cousin Jean Goodman, married to Martin Goodman, a publisher in New York City, needed help in his rapidly expanding business. Not quite 18 years old in 1940, Stanley Lieber joined Goodman's payroll as an assistant working for Joe Simon (who had co-created Captain America with Jack Kirby), becoming one more relative on Goodman's list of employees. The Timely offices specialized in using freelancers to fill up their pages, but Goodman's relatives were there to make sure the core publishing business (which did more than comics) was run efficiently. Lieber's duties eventually included some writing work, fill-in material that wasn't even illustrated, and in between chores as mundane as sweeping the floor, Lieber changed his name to Stan Lee for purposes of keeping his legal name "clean" from the stigma of comic books (then looked upon as one of the lowest ranks of publishing) so he could use his birth name later as a novelist , screenplay writer of playwright.

Official Marvel history (which I guess is now really Disney history) is that Stan Lee imbued his tales with a message when he wrote them, and that he was (along with the sometimes mentioned Jack Kirby) on the cutting edge of civil rights and other social history movements in America, as much as that they existed in comic books in the 1960s, and that under his tutelage Marvel Comics broke barriers for minority representation and on top of that used a writing style in his personally authored tales that pushed the boundaries of what comic books could be.

This 1960s resume demonstrates that Stanley Lieber did not get free from comic books, that he stayed with the business as it evolved each decade, and in fact he eventually legally changed his name to the disguise, becoming "Stan Lee" because, he would explain, it just got too complicated having two different identities.

By the 1980s Stan Lee was on the West Coast to manage Marvel properties, trying to guide them toward success in TV and movies so to boost licensing sales, something which was financially overshadowing actual comic book printing profits which were steadily decreasing across the entire industry. The future for the characters was elsewhere, and Lee wanted California climate and proximity to deal-making for that future. I took until the release of X-Men in July 2000 to show that this jump was clearly a giant success.

Original Page May 2019

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Super-history: Comic Book Superheroes and American Society, 1938 to the Present

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