Friday, 28 December 2012

Happy Birthday Stan Lee!

Stan Lee is celebrating his ninetieth birthday today!  A milestone that must be acknowledged.

Stan Lee
Stan Lee is the most famous comics creator of all time.  To the general public Stan = comics = superheroes. We comics fans regularly discuss the most minute contributions made by creators to the comics mythos and often ignore the vast influence of Stan.  For a period of years every time I surfed the comics related web invariably the words "Stan Lee" would launch a bitter tirade from die hard Kirby fans. This may be some sort of justice for the distorted public perception that Stan created everything but to my mind did not address  the following:
  • Stan's construction of the Marvel myth of the bullpen and the inclusive exclusivity of being a Marvel reader
  • Stan's distinctive "voice" that left the reader in no doubt regarding who had written the tale they were reading
  • Stan's demolishing of the fourth wall
  • Stan's Soapbox
All of these contributions helped to propel Marvel Comics to industry dominance and we haven't mentioned his co-creation of almost all of Marvel's biggest stars.  He also edited and scripted Amazing Spider-man for one hundred consecutive issues, surviving the departure of Steve Ditko after 38 issues.

Amazing Spider-man #6 (November 1963)
Art by Steve Ditko
Expanding Spidey's popularity in collaboration with John Romita. (Romita pencilled #39 - #56, #67, #83, #88, #93 - #95 provided layouts for Don Heck's pencils #57 - #64, #66, provided layouts for Jim Mooney's pencils #65, #68 - #71, #74 - #75, #82, #86 - #87, provided layouts for John Buscema's pencils #84 - #85. During John Romita's run John Buscema provided layouts for John Romita's pencils for #72 and  for Jim Mooney's pencils for #73, #76 - #81.)

Amazing Spider-Man #50 (July 1967)
Pencil Art by John Romita, inks: Mike Esposito

Gil Kane also provided pencils for #89 - #92, #96  - #97 with John Romita's inks and closed out Stan's tenure with #98 - #100.

Amazing Spider-Man #98 (July 1971)
Pencil Art by Gil Kane, inks: Frank Giacoia
Stan edited, scripted and co-plotted the Fantastic Four for one hundred and fourteen consecutive issues, 102  of them with Jack Kirby.  These two highly regarded runs alone would ensure that Stan was ensured a place in any list of comic book immortals.

Fantastic Four #3 (March 1962)
Pencil Art by Jack Kirby, inks:Sol Brodsky

He also edited, (co-)plotted and/or scripted Journey into Mystery/Thor for one hundred and ten consecutive issues.  This is in addition to editing Marvel Comics entire output from the age of nineteen in 1941 until his elevation to the position of publisher in 1972 (apart from a stint in the U S Army in World War II). Astonishingly he was also Marvel's Art Director!

Undoubtedly Jack Kirby deserves more credit from the general public as do Steve Ditko, Roy Thomas, John Romita, Gene Colan, John Buscema and the rest of Lee's colleagues but like it or not it was Stan's energy, drive and personality that allowed the talents of these gifted creators to reach a wider audience.  Happy birthday Stan Lee!


  1. I agree. The motion is passed. Happy Birthday Stan Lee. Now can I have a bit of cake please?

  2. I enjoyed Stan Lee's writing a lot--and ye gods, the man kept up an incredible pace on a very large workload. My hat's off to him.