Stanley Martin Lieber was born on December 28, 1922
in New York
. He was hired at the age of 17 by Timely Comics
, where he did all sorts of chores
in the beginning. Soon he was promoted, and was working as an assistant to the legendary Jack Kirby
and Joe Simon
on their creation Captain America
. Stanley's ambition was to write novels, but he saw comics as a good way to learn how to write, even though comics were not very highly regarded. He got his first story published in the back of Captain America #3
in May 1941. It was titled "Captain America Foils The Traitor's Revenge
". It didn't contain any images, so it might be a little out of place in a comic book
, but it was there to fill the issue. He signed this piece with the pseudonym
that would later become his legal name: Stan Lee
The first comic Stan wrote was a backup story for Captain America #5. It was the first of a number of stories he wrote, which would become published in comics such as Young Allies, The Destroyer, Black Marvel and Whizzer. The comics published by Timely Comics were quite a success, and they soon started publishing more titles, like The Human Torch, Mystery Comics and Marvel Comics. Unfortunately, Kirby and Simon left in 1942 because they felt that Timely didn't pay them enough royalties. Stan Lee suddenly was promoted to editor, but it didn't last very long, because he had to join the army to go off and participate in World War II. He was replaced as editor by Vince Fago.
When Stan returned to Timely Comics in 1945, he created a few comics that were meant for girls, since Timely discovered during the war that that was a very profitable genre. Superhero comics were not selling as much as they had, so Stan created the All Winners Squad in All Winners Comics #19, a team that featured Captain America, the Human Torch, the Sub-Mariner, Miss America and The Whizzer. It was not a success, and several superhero comics were cancelled.
Stan then tried western comics, with characters asKid Colt, Outlaw, Blaze Carson and Tex Taylor. When Kirby and Simon tried romantic comics, Stan followed, and Timely would eventually publish as many as twenty different love comics.
But times were rough, and by 1950, Timely Comics had changed into Atlas Comics, and the types of stories had shifted from love and western to war and horror. Some titles published by Atlas were Strange Tales and War Adventures. Stan once again tried the superhero genre with Marvel Boy in December 1950, but it didn't last. In 1954 he tried again with Captain America, the Sub-Mariner and the Human Torch with impressive art by John Romita and Bill Everett, but that attempt also failed. Due to the Comics Code Authority, horror comics were practically outlawed and Atlas Comics had to cut several titles, leaving only 8 titles out of the 75 they used to publish.
In 1961, Stan almost wanted to quit the business, but then he got the opportunity to write superhero comics the way he wanted. He teamed up with Jack Kirby and created a milestone in comic history: the Fantastic Four. The first issue was released in November 1961, and was published by a company named Marvel Comics. The difference between the Fantastic Four and the superheroes from other publishers was that the Fantastic Four were more human. They had flaws just like everyone else, so people could relate to them. And that was what made the title a hit. Soon more titles would follow, and Stan was at the base of every one of them: Spider-Man, The Hulk, Iron Man, Daredevil, the X-Men, the Avengers, to name but a few. Marvel Comics also resurrected old Timely Comics' heroes such as Captain America and the Human Torch.
In 1972, Stan became publisher and editorial director of Marvel Comics. He didn't write much comics anymore. Instead he was involved with everything else at Marvel Comics. In 1978 he moved to California, where he would supervise Marvel's television shows and movies. Over the years, he has become more or less the human face of Marvel Comics. He started Stan Lee Media in the late 1990s, through which he wanted to produce all kinds of entertainment, including games and online comics. He played himself in Kevin Smith's second movie, Mallrats, where he gives advice to Brodie, a comic book fan, and he made a cameo appearance in the live action X-Men movie. He is currently busy with a project for DC Comics titled "Just imagine Stan Lee creating...". In this project, Stan will create Superman, Batman and other heroes from DC Comics, in a way he would have created in the 1960s.