Fantastic Four artwork by Jack Kirby
Born Stanley Lieber in New York in 1922, Stan Lee entered the comic book scene at seventeen, as assistant editor for the Timely comics group. In 1942, he was promoted to editor. He also became one of the major scriptwriters, after Jack Kirby and Joe Simon had left the company. Lee wrote most of the scripts for 'Captain America', 'Sub-Mariner', 'Young Allies' and 'The Human Torch', but also for 'The Witness', 'The Destroyer' and 'Jack Frost'.
The Timely group was renamed Atlas and entered a rough period in the fifties, during which sales were very low. Stan Lee wrote numerous stories, mostly for the superhero comics starring 'The Whizzer' and 'Black Marvel'. The quality of his stories wasn't very high at first, but improved considerably from 1961 on, when the group was renamed Marvel Comics.
By then, Stan Lee called for a new era of superhero comics. Working mostly with Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, he created a great many popular titles, such as 'The Fantastic Four', 'Spider-Man', 'Doctor Strange', 'Thor', 'The Hulk', 'The X-Men', 'The Silver Surfer', 'Sgt Fury and His Howling Commandos', 'Daredevil' and 'Iron Man'.
The strength of Lee's scripts was that he depicted his characters, endowed with super-human abilities, yet with human failings and emotions the reader could identify with. Thanks to Stan Lee's productivity, Marvel became very popular during the sixties. In 1972, Lee became publisher and editorial director of the group. In 1974, he wrote a book titled 'Origins of Marvel Comics'.
Stan Lee and his Marvel studios came into the limelight when the first Spider-Man movie was released in 2002, at the delight of his fans. The Hulk, X-Men, Iron Man and Fantastic Four have also made it to the silver screen. Stan Lee was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2008.
Stan Lee caricature by Drew Friedman