Stan Lee, legendary writer, editor and publisher of Marvel Comics, has died aged 95.
If you have anything at all to do with comic books or the works they have inspired, you know Stan Lee’s name, you know his face and you know his work. There is no one that has had the same kind of impact on the industry. As far as comics are concerned, Stan Lee was ineffable.
Lee has been part of the comics world since he was 16 after taking a job at Timely Comics back in 1938. For years, he worked as a writer, editor and sometimes illustrator. But when Lee finally started to prepare to leave the company, something happened that changed both his mind and the lives of millions of people far and wide: industry dominator DC Comics began to reimagine its superheroes, seeing in the Silver Age, and Lee wanted to outdo them.
From there, he brought the comics world into a new era of storytelling: the Marvel Age of Comics. With the help of the likes of Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, Lee changed the industry as we knew it, creating and co-creating a wealth of complex superheroes. Black Panther. The X-Men. Spider-Man. Iron Man. The Mighty Thor. The Fantastic Four. The Incredible Hulk, and more. Characters that adorned the t-shirts, lunch boxes, bedroom walls and more of kids and adults all over the world.
“Until there was the Fantastic Four, I always felt most superheroes didn’t have personal lives, or if they did the reader never knew because nobody wrote about it,” Lee told us back in 2012. “In other words, what did Superman do when he wasn’t being Superman? Well, he was a reporter, but where did he live? And how did he spend his days? I knew nothing about him, and the same with all superheroes. They were only interesting when they wore their costume and were fighting the bad guys, so I thought it would be fun if they could also be interesting in their normal identity.”
It was that way of thinking that earned Lee his status as a giant in the industry. His many colourful creations are exciting and complex when they are fighting evil, but continue to be people we actually want to read about when they are going about their everyday lives. They are simultaneously marvellous and flawed, and untouchable and vulnerable.
Eighty years after Lee first joined Timely Comics, he’s still one of the biggest geek culture icons on the planet. With TV shows, comic revamps and Marvel Cinematic Universe launching his beloved characters further into the mainstream, Lee has been ruling the industry, and will no doubt continue to long after his death.
Lee’s imagination was incomparable and inspiring. The joy and wonder he brought to the world will continue to live on, and we can’t thank him enough.