Today is the 95th birthday of Stan Lee, the Marvel Comics writer and publisher who co-created Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, X-Men, and the Fantastic Four. He introduced a thoroughly shared universe into superhero comic books, and – with his knack for business – rose from being a lowly assistant who filled ink-wells to the president and chairman responsible for transforming Marvel Comics from a small division of a publishing house into a large multimedia corporation… (1922)
Marshaling his childhood ambition to be a writer, young Stanley Lieber made his comic-book debut with the text filler “Captain America Foils the Traitor’s Revenge” in Captain America Comics #3 (May 1941), using the pseudonym Stan Lee. His initial story also introduced Captain America’s trademark ricocheting shield-toss.
Charged with creating a new superhero team in the 1950’s for the company, which was then known as Atlas Comics, Lee created the Fantastic Four, and gave them human frailties complexities–a first for the industry. His characters, could have bad tempers, fits of melancholy; and they bickered amongst themselves, worried about paying bills or impressing girlfriends, and even got physically ill. The comic’s popularity led to Lee’s creation of a string of new characters, including the Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, and the X-Men.
In the 70s, Lee began using comic books for social commentary, which often dealt with racism, discrimination, intolerance, or prejudice. He also introduced the practice of regularly including a credit panel on the splash page of each story, naming not just the writer and penciller but also the inker and letterer.
Most recently, among numerous other projects, he founded the charitable Stan Lee Foundation in 2010 to focus on literacy, education and the arts, wrote a how-to book for writing comics, and introduced his digital graphic novel God Woke at the 2016 Comic-Con International. (Lee photo by Gage Skidmore, CC)
MORE Good News on this Date:
- Westminster Abbey was consecrated (1065)
- Cyrano de Bergerac, an Edmond Rostand play, premiered in Paris – about a real-life French dramatist and his nose (1897)
- The first audience paid to attend a motion picture by the Lumière brothers in Paris consisting of 10 short films, including 46 seconds of Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory (1895)
- The Peak District became the UK’s first National Park (1950)
- President Richard Nixon signed a strengthened version of the Endangered Species Act, which led to the recovery of the bald eagle and other species (1973)
- The first American test-tube baby, Elizabeth Jordan Carr, was born in Norfolk, Virginia (1981)
- Nepal‘s parliament abolished the country’s monarchy to replace it with a democratic Republic (2007)