So yesterday, December 28, 2012, was Stan Lee’s 90th birthday. 90 years old. Wow! That is one hell of a life. 90 years is a long and fruitful life for anyone lucky enough to live that long, but Stan Lee has done a lot in his 90 years that will live on long past his lifetime. Stan Lee has entertained generations of fans, millions of readers, with his particular brand of entertainment. As if you didn’t know, Stan Lee is perhaps the most influential man in comic book history. Having worked in the comic book industry since his early teen years, Stan has had a hand in just about every aspect of Marvel Comics. As one of its earliest writers and editors, as well as being a driving force behind the Bronze Age explosion of superhero comic books in the 1960s, the steps that Stan Lee has laid down for the industry are important and significant ones that made the industry what it is today.
Even now, at his age, Stan Lee continues to be a driving force in the industry. Not only does he make his presence known to fans in multiple movie cameos throughout the Marvel Cinematic universe, but also as a leader in conventions dedicated to fandom as one of the partners behind Comikaze Expo in Los Angeles, CA. No one can argue his position in the industry, and as I looked at all his accomplishments over the years, I wanted to share some fun facts about the man in this quick article. Some you may know, some may be new to you, but these 10 facts are the ones that intrigue me most about the man we know and love as Stan Lee.
10. Stan Lee was born Stanley Martin Lieber. When he started writing comic books, he decided to use the non de plume Stan Lee because he wanted to save his real name for the great novel he would write one day. Something tells me that novel may never see the light of day.
9. One of Stan Lee’s first writing jobs was writing obituaries. Not exactly the way many great writers would like to have started out but Stan Lee did this part-time for the National Tuberculosis Center. Maybe that is the reason why Marvel’s characters never really stay dead. That would have quite an effect on me as well.
8. Stan Lee joined the Army in 1942. He would serve in the Army for the duration of World War II until 1945 serving stateside as part of the Signal Corps where he would write manuals, training film scripts, and slogans for the Army’s World War II home front efforts. Occasionally he would also do cartooning while part of the Signal Corps.
7. Stan Lee is a quasi-movie star. Since 2000’s X-Men, Lee has appeared in 16 films based on Marvel Comics characters – characters that he either created or helped create during his time with Marvel. My personal favorite cameos of his are from Daredevil, Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger and The Amazing Spider-Man.
6. Stan Lee indirectly reformed the Comic Code Authority in 1971. When the US Deptment of Health, Education and Welfare asked Lee and Marvel to write a comic book about anti-drug use, the CCA refused to place their seal on the three-issue story because of the depictions of drugs. Martin Goodman cooperated with Lee and still published the issues and eventually the CCA would loosen the code a bit.
5. Lee is planning to live forever – or at least another 90 years. Stan Lee had a small medical scare in 2012 and had to have a pacemaker inserted into his body at the end of September. Thankfully it is nothing serious – if you can call any medical procedure for a 90-year-old “nothing serious” – and Stan plans on being with his fans for years to come.
4. You can experience being Stan Lee for yourself. That is, if you bought The Amazing Spider-Man video game adaptation of the movie. One of the exclusive offers for the game was playing a short side-quest via DLC where you play as Stan himself looking for lost pages of his manuscript while using all the powers at Spider-Man’s disposal. For some fans, this is a dream come true.
3. Stan Lee is the recipient of the 2,428th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. You can find Stan Lee’s star at 7072 Hollywood Boulevard in front of the Live Nation Building and he was awarded the honor on January 4, 2011. Presenting him the award was POW! COO and president Gill Champion and comic book artist Todd McFarlane.
2. Stan Lee owns his own comic book convention, sort of. In 2012, Stan Lee and Regina Carpinelli, founder and CEO of Comikaze Expo, announced that Stan Lee would become a partner in the company and soon after Comikaze was rebranded as Stan Lee’s Comikaze. Talk about getting closer to your fans. It also helps that Elvira is a partner in that venture as well.
1. Martin Goodman saw something in Stan Lee in 1941that we would all eventually see. When Stan Lee was only 19 years old, Goodman named Lee interim editor at Timely Comics (as Marvel was known at the time). Mainly due to the departure of Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, that Goodman felt that Stan Lee was his best choice says a lot about his eventual potential as a creator.