By Joseph Martinez -
Stan Lee, who along with collaborators including Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Bill Everett and Don Heck created the Marvel Universe, was born 90 years ago today in New York City.
Idolized by fanboys worldwide, Lee co-created Spider-Man, the Hulk, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Thor, and many other fictional characters, introducing complex, naturalistic characters and a thoroughly shared universe into superhero comic books.
With the help of his uncle Robbie Solomon, Lee became an assistant in 1939 at the new Timely Comics division of pulp magazine and comic-book publisher Martin Goodman's company. Timely, by the 1960s, would evolve into Marvel Comics. Lee, whose cousin Jean was Goodman's wife, was formally hired by Timely editor Joe Simon.
Duties in those days involved the mundate, "In those days [the artists] dipped the pen in ink, [so] I had to make sure the inkwells were filled", Lee recalled in 2009. "I went down and got them their lunch, I did proofreading, I erased the pencils from the finished pages for them".
Twenty-two years later, as editor-in-chief, Lee ushered in the Marvel revolution with the introduction of the Fantastic Four, followed quickly by the likes of the Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor, the Avengers, the X-Men and Daredevil. He briefly rose to president and publisher of Marvel, as well as its public face, before becoming its Hollywood representative in the early 1980s.
In 2006, Marvel commemorated Lee's 65 years with the company by publishing a series of one-shot comics starring Lee himself meeting and interacting with many of his co-creations, including Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, the Thing, Silver Surfer and Doctor Doom. These comics also featured short pieces by such comics creators as Joss Whedon and Fred Hembeck, as well as reprints of classic Lee-written adventures.
Most recently, Lee continues to stay active in the industry. At the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con International, Lee announced his new YouTube channel, Stan Lee's World of Heroes, which airs several programs created by Lee and other creators, including Mark Hamill, Peter David, Adrianne Curry and Bonnie Burton.
(photo © 2012 Joe Martinez / Picturelux - All Rights Reserved.)