Stan Lee

Stan Lee rose from a comic book writer into a global icon, famous for his superhero creations. A New York native, he began working as an assistant at Timely Comics in 1939. He worked his way into writing, beginning with an issue of "Captain America." He moved into editing while only 19, before leaving to serve in the Army during World War II. Despite his military commitments, Lee continued working on Timely titles from afar. Upon returning to civilian life, he worked on a variety of titles, and for a period wrote the newspaper comic strip "My Friend Irma." After the publisher became known as Marvel Comics, he was charged by his boss to come up with a superhero team that would rival DC Comics' Justice League of America. He joined with artist Jack Kirby to create The Fantastic Four comic book that debuted in 1961. The style of writing, with the characters that didn't always get along and struggled with knowing what the right thing was to do, was markedly different from what had come before. The success of the title kicked off an unprecedented creative outburst with Lee working with a team of artists to create new superheroes, including The Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, Daredevil, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, and The X-Men. Much like the DC team of heroes, the Marvel characters became joined in a group configuration called The Avengers. Lee became the voice of the comic books for legions of fans thanks to his letters to the editor forum that ran in issues, along with his column "Stan's Soapbox." He pushed his comics to deal with real issues, like racism and drug abuse. Even after largely stepping away from the day-to-day running of Marvel in the 1980s, Lee continued to act as the face of the company, making public appearances at fan conventions and tradeshows. Apart from Marvel, he worked on a variety of projects, typically under the umbrella of his companies, Stan Lee Media and POW! Entertainment. Among his most successful non-Marvel creations was the animated series "Stripperella" (Spike TV, 2003-04), with the lead character voiced by Pamela Anderson. Despite having been the creative force behind their chief competition, he partnered with DC Comics in 2001 and 2002 on a series of comic books where Lee put his own spin on the company's stable of superheroes, including Batman and Superman. He also became a recognized figure in pop culture thanks to his cameo appearances in the Marvel films, starting with "X-Men" (2000) and ending with "Avengers: Endgame" (2019). His acting extended beyond Marvel, though, as he popped up on films such as Kevin Smith's "Mallrats" (1995) and television shows like "The Big Bang Theory" (CBS, 2007-19). Not limited to strictly on-screen work, he lent his voice to several animated projects, Marvel-related and otherwise, including "The Simpsons" (Fox, 1989- ). He also hosted the television shows "Who Wants to Be a Superhero?" (Sci-Fi Channel, 2006-07) and "Stan Lee's Superhumans" (History, 2010-14). Lee died at the age of 95 in Los Angeles on November 12, 2018.