Marvel's Stan Lee, Master Of Comic Book Hype, Dies At 95
By Mike Roe with Tony Pierce
Spider-Man. The Hulk. The X-Men. Without Stan Lee, none of them exist, along with a pantheon of other comic book heroes and villains. The comic book writer, editor, and hype man has died at 95 years old.
He moved to Los Angeles in 1981, working diligently to promote his creations and trying to make an impact with them in Hollywood.
Lee had already worked for Marvel as a writer and editor for decades when he started creating a run of new characters, beginning with the Fantastic Four in 1961, that started to make Marvel a hot commodity. He added new soap opera-style storytelling to the books, creating more characters with human flaws and helping to broaden their appeal to an older audience.
His heroes have often been contrasted with the heroes of DC Comics such as Superman, seen more as untouchable icons with less human frailty.
"The person viewing the cartoon or reading the book should have something to think about, not just look at mindless pages of running around," Lee said in an interview with NPR.
Lee wrote numerous comic books over the years. In the 1960s, due to his immense workload, he pioneered the Marvel Method. That meant creating a brief outline with the comic's artist, letting the artist draw the story before Lee would come back and write dialogue and put in word balloons to fit the art.
But those stories were certainly being promoted. Lee's immense skills as a hype man were on display in the pages of Marvel Comics, where he would write columns talking directly to readers, helping to build a fandom. He also made himself a go-to for decades when the media wanted someone to talk about comics, becoming widely known for his catchphrases, "Excelsior!" and, to a lesser extent, "'Nuff said."
Lee remained a comic book convention mainstay for years, making regular appearances until a battle with pneumonia earlier this year.
Lee's life was filled with controversy in the last couple of years. After his wife died in 2017, there were allegations of elder abuse and both money and possessions being stolen by those surrounding Lee. He spoke out about what happened in an article last month.
Despite those troubles and controversies, Lee will be well remembered by the comic book industry and by the world. On Hollywood Boulevard early Monday afternoon, a lone bouquet of flowers rested on his star on the Walk of Fame.
After his death, tributes poured in from throughout the comic book industry and far beyond, including a tribute from the Army to Lee as a veteran.
There will never be another Stan Lee. For decades he provided both young and old with adventure, escape, comfort, confidence, inspiration, strength, friendship and joy. He exuded love and kindness and will leave an indelible mark on so, so, so many lives. Excelsior!!— Chris Evans (@ChrisEvans) November 12, 2018
Rest in peace, Stan Lee. The many worlds of imagination & delight you created for humanity will last forever.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 12, 2018
Rest in peace, Soldier.— U.S. Army (@USArmy) November 12, 2018
Comic book creator @TheRealStanLee has passed away at the age of 95. Lee served in the #USArmy Signal Corps during WWII from 1942-1945. We are deeply grateful for his service to our country and for his tremendous support to servicemembers. #Excelsior! pic.twitter.com/P9tdwoxxx2
“No one has had more of an impact on my career and everything we do at Marvel Studios than Stan Lee. Stan leaves an extraordinary legacy that will outlive us all. Our thoughts are with his daughter, his family, and his millions of fans. #ThankYouStan #Excelsior!”— Marvel Studios (@MarvelStudios) November 12, 2018
Deeply saddened to hear about Stan Lee's passing. Out with the kids and can't do this one justice today. Was lucky enough to meet Stan early in my career -I was introduced to him as a newbie- & he said: don't look so nervous kid, all the good stuff is just ahead... #excelsior— Scott Snyder (@Ssnyder1835) November 12, 2018
What a man. What a life.— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) November 12, 2018
When I first broke into Hollywood, he welcomed me with open arms and some very sage advice I’ll forever take to heart.
A true icon who impacted generations around the world.
Rest in love, my friend. #imagination #stanlee 💫 pic.twitter.com/dw3FXMgyHp
Thank you Stan Lee for making people who feel different realize they are special.— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) November 12, 2018
Stan Lee meant the world to us. He’s a big part of why any of us are here still talking about comics. We’ll be waiting for his Doombot to come online, and then we’ll get to talk to him again.— iFanboy (@iFanboy) November 12, 2018
Thank you for all of it.
I have just learned of Stan Lee’s passing.— Billy Dee Williams (@realbdw) November 12, 2018
I had the honor of knowing this true Superhero whose talents transcend and whose work impacted generations.
Rest easy my friend....You made this world so much more interesting and colorful.
It can be hard to know what to do on the day someone you care about dies. When Jack Kirby died I knew exactly what to do: make comics. Holds true for Stan.— Phillip Hester (@philhester) November 12, 2018
HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD'S MASKED HEROES REACT
By Tony Pierce
On Hollywood Boulevard, it didn't look like Spider-Man was taking it too well. In front of the Hollywood & Highland mall, he was hunched over. His dirty, gloved hands were on his thighs.
But he was just adjusting his fanny pack.
Spider-Man, did you hear about Stan Lee?
"Who?" the street busker in a red and blue Spidey outfit asked.
Stan Lee, the creator of the Marvel Universe. The man who co- created... you?
"It really breaks my heart," he said, realizing it all for the first time, "because he created me and such. And it just hurts. I just hope that wherever his family is, and such, they're doing well," the masked busker said, refusing on multiple occasions to reveal his true identity.
"When I was a kid I liked Tobey Maguire, because when I saw him at the beginning [of the original Spider-Man movie], he used to get bullied. I'm young, I'm 23 years old, I used to be bullied as a kid. And that's what made me relate so much to Spider-Man and why I have so much love for him. Because he ended up getting superpowers, and he became the Man."
Across the street near the Roosevelt Hotel, men dressed as Captain America and Wolverine waited for the light at Orange to change.
Is it bittersweet to work today on Hollywood Boulevard?
"Yes and no," Ross Michael Johnson, aka Hollywood Wolverine, said. "I mean, the guy was a legend and he lived to 95 -- you can't complain. He had a great life, you can't stick around forever. So respect to Stan -- excelsior."
Mark Roman, a bearded Captain America who goes by "Hollywood Cap," added, "He showed us how we could find the hero within us and reach for that instead of the darker stuff. I think these days we could all hear a little more of that."
Elsewhere on Hollywood Boulevard, hours after the announcement of Lee's death, the awareness of his passing was more subtle. Another Spider-Man hadn't heard the news and had to be coached through who Lee was. A Colombian tourist wearing a Deadpool T-shirt while taking selfies with his girlfriend also had no idea who the former editor-in- chief of Marvel Comics was.
And there, in the shadow of a Buffalo Wild Wings, laid Lee's star on Hollywood Bouleard. Only a humble spray of inexpensive flowers in a small vase honored his legacy next to the star. Nearby, two TV news cameramen debated his stature as they waited for word of the next time they'd be rolling.
A few blocks east, Hollywood Cap seemed a little peeved at how the press has been portraying Lee in headlines today.
"The Washington Post and the L.A. Times, both, the tagline was 'Spider-Man co-creator, Stan Lee,'" Roman noted with a chuckle. "That was an interesting way to sum up the guy who founded Marvel, created all these different characters, including everything that we have enjoyed... that was based off the last 10 years of the Marvel cinematic universe... the history-making Black Panther. Avengers: Infinity War. Going into next year with the history-making Captain Marvel and then the Avengers 4 movie. It's interesting that 'co-creator Stan Lee' is what the major newspapers see, but what are you gonna do? Rest in peace, Stan Lee."
This story has been updated.
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