Stan Lee first became involved in comics in 1939, when he was given work as an assistant at what was then Timely Comics. He was published for the first time in 1941, when he produced text filler for Captain America Comics #3. He wrote his first published comic two months later, which was followed by his first co-creation, Destroyer, in August. Towards the end of that year he was given the position of interim editor of Timely following the departure of Joe Simon. Through the 1950s he wrote various comics in a variety of genres for what was now known as Atlas Comics. 1961 saw a shift in the works he produced when he was instructed to create a superhero team. Deviating from the norm of superheroes as idealized icons, Lee and artist Jack Kirby produced a superteam that was more distinctly human and flawed: the Fantastic Four. This team proved incredibly popular, and Lee capitalized on his success with a whole host of new heroes created alongside a variety of artists, including the Hulk, the X-Men, and Spider-Man, among numerous others. He remained busy throughout the 1960s, introducing new features into comics as well as regularly editing, writing comics, and producing extra content such as letter pages and columns. Stan Lee also came up with nicknames, and other cookie terms, such as "Frantic Marvellite," "'Nuff said," and his own catch-phrase, "Excelsior!!!," the motto of the State of New York, inside his comics. He nicknamed the staff and all those who worked at the Marvel Comics the Marvel Bullpen. The name was thought up by Stan Lee in the late 1960's and probably remains the most famous editorial group of people in comics. He also came up with things like the Marvel "No-Prize." During this time he saw great success using the "Marvel Method" to write comics. In 1971 he had a hand in loosening the Comics Code Authority's strict guidelines on the portrayal of drugs in comics.
Lee grew increasingly popular with comic book fans, and soon became a sort of figurehead for Marvel. He was briefly made president of the company, but stepped down to become publisher because of his desire to remain involved in the creative aspects of comics. In the early 1980s he became involved in the adaptation of Marvel comics to other media. In 1998 he co-founded Stan Lee Media, an internet-based studio. Though successful, it filed for bankruptcy in 2000 when his co-founder was discovered to be carrying out illegal stock manipulation. In 2001 he began working on the Just Imagine... series, his first ever work for DC. That same year he was involved int he formation of POW! Entertainment, which focused on developing other media adaptations. In 2003 he created Stripperella, an adult-oriented animated television series, which aired on Spike TV for thirteen episodes. In 2004 he teamed up with Komikwerks.com to produce Stan Lee's Sunday Comics, as well as renewing his column. In 2006 he featured in a comic book commemorating the 65 years he had spent with Marvel up to that point. Also in 2006 he began hosting the reality television series Who Wants to Be a Superhero?, which was apparently cancelled the following year. In 2008 he became involved in numerous projects, releasing a fumetti book, collaborating on a manga, producing television and film adaptations of various works, writing comics for Virgin Comics. He also worked on a manga in 2009. In 2011 he began work on a number of projects, notably a musical, and a children's imprint called Stan Lee's Kids Universe. He is presently mostly retired from Marvel. Recently he has been involved in a documentary style television show where he interviews those who exhibit "powers" similar to superheroes (for instance a man that can hit an aspirin tablet with bow and arrow.)
Starting in the 1980s and continuing to the present day, Lee has appeared in nearly every adaptation of Marvel's properties to the screen in a cameo role. He has also been portrayed numerous times in comics. Stan Lee can be found on the internet at his official MySpace page, his two official Facebook pages, and on Twitter.
Born as Stanley Martin Lieber in 1922, Lee, who had a younger brother, Lawrence, who came to be known as Larry Lieber, was raised in New York. He graduated from high school early in 1939, and found work almost immediately. He joined the US Army in 1942, and remained in the States as a member of the Signal Corps with a position he later described as "playwright," producing films and manuals, as well as cartoons. He left the army in 1945. He married Joan Clayton Boocock in December of 1947. The couple's daughter, Joan, was born in 1950. Their second child, Jan, was born in 1953, but died shortly after birth. Lee has received numerous awards, and been inducted into both the Will Eisner and Jack Kirby Halls of Fame.
Marvel Movie Cameos
Lee has made cameos in a number of film or television productions of Marvel characters. They include these:
- The Trial of The Incredible Hulk (1989) - Stan appeared as the jury foreman in Banner's imagined trial.
- X-Men (2000) - Stan makes an appearance as a hotdog cart vendor at the beach where Senator Kelly appears after escaping from Magneto.
- Spider-Man (2002) - Stan Lee makes a heroic save of a little girl who both are witness to Spider-Man's and the Green Goblin's first fight.
- Daredevil (2003) - Lee appears as the old man whom Matt Murdock, as a child, saves from getting hit by a freighter carrying radioactive waste--at the expense of being blinded by radiation.
- Hulk (2003) - Stan Lee is seen beside the original Hulk, Lou Ferrigno, both as security guards who are outside of Bruce Banner's lab.
- Spider-Man 2 (2004) - Stan's character pulls a women out of danger's way in the form of falling debris during Doctor Octopus's and Spider-Man's fight during a bank robbery.
- Fantastic Four (2005) - Stan appears as post man Willie Lumpkin, a character created by Lee as the post man to the Fantastic Four.
- X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) - Lee is seen here as an older gentleman who witnesses a young Jean Grey whilst using her powers.
- Spider-Man 3 (2007) - At the beginning of the movie, Stan is having a brief conversation with Peter Parker at Times Square and as he leaves the scene he makes the remark, "'Nuff said." (This is one of his trademark catchphrases.)
- Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007) - Stan Lee portrays himself attempting to attend Reed Richards's and Sue Storm's wedding, but is turned down for not being on the guest list.
- Iron Man (2008) - As Tony Stark attends a party, he addresses and mistakes Stan Lee for Hugh Hefner.
- The Incredible Hulk (2008) - Stan can be seen drinking a soda, which is contaminated with Bruce Banner's blood, from the factory Bruce worked in.
- Iron Man 2 (2010) - While at the conference at the beginning of the movie, Tony Stark sees Stan portraying Larry King on his way out the door.
- Thor (2011) - Stan plays a redneck in a pickup truck who is trying to move Thor's hammer Mjolnir in the dessert crater. He fails and pulls the back out of his truck.
- Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) - Stan plays a general during World War II and questions if a random, normal man, is Captain America.
- The Avengers (2012) - Stan Lee plays a man being interviewed on TV with the beliefs that the Avengers are not real.
- The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) - Stan can be seen as an oblivious school librarian who is in the presence of Spider-Man's and the Lizard's fight at the school. However, he does not notice the fight due to his over-sized headphones, and leaves the room without ever knowing what happened.
Characters Created/Co-Created by Stan Lee