Since the dawn of the 21st Century, movies based on Marvel Comics properties have become commonplace on the silver screen. In most of them, there’s been at least one common thread, a cameo from legendary comic book creator, Stan Lee. But who is Stan Lee? You may know him as a creator and the king of cameos, but do you know these facts about the man behind characters such as The Incredible Hulk, The Amazing Spider-Man, and the Fantastic Four?
Stan Lee was born Stanley Martin Lieber
Stan Lee was born on December 28, 1922. The son of Romanian-born Jewish parents, Lee was always a keen writer and was heavily influenced by the adventures of Errol Flynn playing heroic roles in movies. When Lee was in school he worked various part-time jobs, including writing obituaries for a news service and press releases for the National Tuberculosis Center. While he has yet to write his Great American Novel, his career has spanned 8 decades and the name “Stan Lee” has become synonymous with comic books and various other media outlets.
He became editor of timely comics at the age of 19
With the help and support of his uncle Robbie Solomon, Lee became an assistant at the Timely Comics division of Pulp Magazine. Timely Comics would later become Marvel Comics. His initial duties were prosaic. Lee would later recall in interviews that artists would dip their pens in ink and his job was to ensure the inkwells were full. He would also fetch lunches and proofread, as well as erase pencil lines from the page. All the while, the young Stanley Lieber was learning all there was to know about the industry he would later become an integral part of.
He joined the army in 1942
Stan Lee entered the United States Army in early 1942 and served the US in the Signal Corps, initially repairing telegraph poles and various other communication equipment. He would later be transferred to the training film department where he wrote training manuals, slogans, and occasionally did cartooning. His military classification at this time was that of “Playwright,” a classification given to only nine men in the service at the time.
He pioneered the Marvel method
Lee’s revolution in the ‘60s didn’t just change the stories presented in comics, it changed the ways in which comics were written. He introduced the practice of regularly including a credit panel on the splash page of each story, naming not just the writer and penciller but also the inker and letterer. He also interacted with the readers on the “Bullpen Bits” page, which was written in a friendly style.
He has also written for DC comics
He’s mostly known for Marvel but in the early 2000s, he wrote a series for DC called “Just Imagine” where he re-imagined the DC superheroes Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and the Flash. As an in-joke to the fans of his seminal work, Lee changes several of the civilian names of the most famous DC superheroes to alliterative ones in reference to his tendency to use them for his Marvel Comics characters; for example, Peter Parker / Spider-Man.
He is the King of Cameos
A bit like with his shared universe for Marvel’s characters, Stan Lee decided he wanted to be in every movie one of his characters was used in… and he made it happen! Because of this, Lee has now starred in more movies than some of the greatest actors in the world! Look for a hotdog vendor in ‘X-Men’ (2000), a mistaken Larry King in ‘Iron Man 2’ (2010), and a security guard in ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ (2014) just to name a few. He’s appeared in comics too both as himself and as a character. He and co-creator Jack Kirby can be found in the comic ‘The Fantastic Four No. 10’, (1963) and he was the priest at Luke Cage and Jessica Jones’ wedding in ‘New Avengers Annual No. 1’ (2006).
His autobiography was a graphic novel
After appearing as a cameo in many comics and films, in 2015 Stan Lee finally got his own comic book. It’s a full-color graphic autobiography illustrated by Colleen Doran called ‘Amazing Fantastic Incredible: A Marvellous Memoir.’ The book tells the story of Stan Lee’s life and how he changed the world of comics forever.
By Damilola Faustino
Read also: The Best 5 Stan Lee Movie Cameos Of All Time
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