In addition to being the man who crafted both the "Marvel Universe" as well as some of the most popular comic book superheroes of modern times, longtime artist and writer Stan Lee played a pivotal role in bringing genuine human emotion into comic book characters, a trait that, up until the creation of such characters as the enduring Spider-Man, was sorely lacking in comics. Born in New York in 1922, it was at the age of 17 that Lee began work as an assistant editor for Timely Comics. Promoted to editor soon thereafter, Lee remained with the company as it changed its name to Atlas and fought slumping sales in the following years. At first simply carrying on with the stories of the characters that had already been created, the company got a fresh burst of creativity when, in 1961, it changed its name from Atlas to Marvel Comics. Soon carrying stories of emotionally complex and multi-dimensional characters such as Spider-Man, The Hulk, and Daredevil, Lee's intelligent story lines -- coupled with artist Jack Kirby's impressive images -- helped Marvel's popularity surge during the '60s. Advancing to the position of publisher and editorial director in 1972, it was during this decade that such popular television series as The Incredible Hulk and The Amazing Spider-Man truly came to life on the small screen. Though many of the characters had appeared in cartoon form on television in the previous decade, their transformation from animated characters to living, breathing humans truly brought comics into a new light and exposed them to audiences who otherwise might have scoffed at such fiction. Of course, this was only the beginning, and throughout subsequent years, Lee's characters made the leap to feature films in such blockbusters as Bryan Singer's X-Men (2000) and Sam Raimi's Spider-Man (2002). In addition to his role as a popular writer in comics, Lee also played a pivotal role in reducing censorship in the medium. Addressing the issue of drug addition in an issue of The Amazing Spider-Man at the request of public health officials, Lee defied the strict rules set by the Comics Code Authority (which banned any portrayal of drug use whether it be in a positive or negative light) and ultimately put the downfall of the CCA into motion. In the decades since, Lee's creations have not only graced the pages of comic books, but have sprung to life as never before with numerous film and television adaptations most successfully in the box-office smash The Avengers.
Biography by Jason Buchanan
- Born Stanley Martin Lieber, he signed his comic work "Stan Lee" because he wanted to save his real name for the great novel he hoped to write.
- In 1998, he launched Stan Lee Media, which later filed for bankruptcy due to stock manipulation perpetrated by his partner, Peter Paul.
- Published his autobiography Excelsior! The Amazing Life of Stan Lee in 2002.
- Has made cameos in many Marvel Comic film adaptations, including The Trial of the Incredible Hulk (1989), Daredevil (2003), Thor (2011), The Avengers (2012) and most of the Iron Man, X-Men and Spider-Man films.
- Received the 2428th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on January 4, 2011.
- Creator of the Stan Lee Foundation, which promotes diversity, national literacy, culture and the arts.