Stan Lee’s Amazing Legacy | NowThis Nerd

On November 12, 2018, Stanley Martin Lieber passed away at the age of 95 Better known as Stan Lee, he left behind a life and career that forever changed the face of entertainment

Face front, True Believers, Because I’m Moose, and this is what Stan Lee’s Legacy means to me How do we even begin talking about the impact Lee had on the world? Let’s start with his comic book Creations Lee’s comics career began in 1939, when he took a job filling inkwells and snagging lunch at Timely Comics, the company that would later become Marvel He eventually transitioned to writing, but by the end of the ‘50s, Lee was feeling a little burnt out after composing a decade’s worth of forgettable romance, action and horror tales He was considering quitting, until his publisher assigned him a new task: DC Comics had a big hit on their hands with their Silver Age superhero squadron the Justice League, and Lee’s job was to come up with his own team for Marvel Since he was halfway out the door anyway, Stan used it as an opportunity to re-define what superheroes could be, and with the legendary Jack Kirby, the two introduced the world to a dysfunctional family that fought with eachother almost as much as they fought evil, and lived not in fictional cities like Gotham and Metropolis, but a New York that wasn’t all that different from the view outside of our window

‘The Fantastic Four’ was unlike anything comic readers had ever seen, and Lee and Kirby parlayed their success into an entire universe of offbeat heroes Together, the two created the X-Men, the Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, the Avengers, and more, and with Steve Ditko, Lee gave birth to Dr Strange and his most famous co-creation: The Amazing Spider-Man What? Spider-Man?! Uh, Pam, hold my calls for a while, I think I've finally gone crazy! Stan and the artists developed what would later be called the “Marvel Method,” where Lee would brainstorm a brief synopsis with the artist, let them construct and plot the story visually, and go back to fill in the dialogue and captions once the illustrations were complete It was a brilliant, collaborative workflow that gave birth to some of comics most iconic characters, but over the years, it lead to a lot of disputed credits and disgruntled co-creators

For example, legend has it Lee told Kirby to “have the Fantastic Four fight God,” leading to the creation of Galactus But when Lee saw the final art, he noticed a curious chrome creature soaring through space: The Silver Surfer It was entirely Kirby’s creation, but because Lee provided the words and backstory, he shares the credit with the King In fact, the Surfer became one of Lee's favorite characters, there was an unwritten rule at Marvel that only Lee was allowed to write him As time went on, the comics community began to resent Lee for hogging all the glory, but you gotta understand, above all else, he was a company guy, the living, breathing face of Marvel comics, and kind of a publicity hound

It was easy for the mainstream media to give Stan all the attention simply because he was so visible, and so gosh darn charming, but Lee was always quick to share the credit with his less well-known co-creators That think that the strips were just mine, but they would have been nothing without the artists I worked with I just put the words into peoples mouths, I may have come up with the original idea but after that it was a partnership His collaborators absolutely deserve all the accolades (and royalties) they were denied throughout the years, but that shouldn’t take away from Stan’s achievements, either Would Spider-Man be a success based solely on Ditko’s design? Quite possibly

But it was Stan who put words in Peter Parker’s mouth, making him the nebbish, down-on-his-luck character that the world fell in love with His skill at crafting compelling characters was second to none, so much so that he eventually became one himself, and in the process, transformed his readers into a tight-knit Community Besides flawed heroes and fantastic villains, one of Lee’s lesser-known innovations was creating an editorial voice for Marvel as a whole Before Lee, there wasn’t much interaction between comics fans and creators Sure, there would be the odd letter page or two, but for the most part, readers didn’t really have a relationship with the people who were writing, drawing and editing their favorite books Lee changed all that

He mandated credits on opening splash pages to shout out everyone who worked on an issue, not just the writer and artists but the inkers and letterers, too Not only that, he gave them all memorable nicknames, like Jolly Jack Kirby, Jazzy John Romita, and Shy Steve Ditko Marvel’s staff became a bullpen of colorful creatives that fans grew to know on a first-name basis, and fans became True Believers, who could interact with their heroes in unprecedented ways If you spotted a continuity error that slipped through the cracks, you could write in with a clever explanation and win a No-Prize for your efforts Or, if you wanted to show off your fandom IRL, you could join the Merry Marvel Marching Society and enjoy all the swag one 1964 dollar could buy

I wanted our readers to feel they're part of a group, an inner circle, and we're all having a lot of fun that the rest of the world didn't know about His Bullpen Bulletins became a window into the inner workings of Marvel, filled with news, endless inside jokes, and evocative editorials Not to mention some of the greatest use of alliterations in the history of the English language: Allright: “A Profound Potpourri of Perplexing Pronouncements and Preposterous Philosophy, all Portending Practically Nothing!” “A Titanic Treasure-Trove of Traumatically Tempting Tid-Bits Tastefully Tossed Together to Tease and Tantalize Thee!” “Incredible Items and Inconceivable Info of Inestimable Importance!” You get the idea Also buried in the Bulletins was Stan’s Soapbox, where Lee’s voice really shined He became the ultimate hype man, breathlessly exhorting the superiority of Marvel comics, which he dubbed ‘The House of Ideas,’ and constantly ribbing DC, or, as he called them, the ‘Distinguished Competition

’ You broke my Batmobile! Broke? Or made it better? It was impossible to read Stan’s Soapbox and not rush out to grab the next issue the second he signed off with his trademark motto, borrowed from the great state of New York: Excelsior! It’s a brilliant bit of branding, but more than that, it foreshadowed today’s environment where, for better or worse, artists are more accessible than ever I would say that's my principle objective, to elevate comics to the point where they're a more respected medium of communication and not thought of as merely something for young children But Stan used his platform for more than just driving up sales and trashing Brand Echh, Not now, Stan Lee! Excelsior! he also transformed comics into a medium for Change These days, there’s a lot of debate over whether comics are too political, moralizing at the expense of an entertaining story But if you asked Stan, he would tell you straight up that politics are built into the core of comics At that time, everybody was turned off with the military-industrial complex

Just for fun, I thought I'd make Iron Man a symbol of the military-industrial complex, and I'd make the readers like him! “A story without a message,” he wrote, “is like a man without a soul None of us lives in a vacuum, and none of us is untouched by the everyday events which shape out stories, just as they shape our lives” And, true to his word, Lee tackled the issues of the day within the pages of his comics, particularly Spider-Man

I tried to put him in the real world, and give them the kind of things that regular readers could relate to On top of his typical rogues gallery, Spidey found himself dealing with ripped from the headlines issues like the Vietnam draft, campus unrest, and famously, addiction, when the US Government commissioned Lee to write an anti-drug story in Spider-Man, and he published it over the objections of the Comics Code Authority, forever defanging the censorship board and freeing up comics to explore topics that pushed boundaries and changed lives His work was very symbolic of the era that he lived in

He took a lot of the stuff that was happening and fused it into these characters On top of denouncing hate and bigotry in all its forms, Lee was also a strong champion of representation, co-creating some of comics’ first and greatest Black characters, like Robbie Robertson, the Falcon, and, of course, Black Panther By the way, literally everything I talked about in this video happened before 1972 Well, the '60s were fun, but now I'm payin' for it! We’ve only scratched the surface of Lee’s long, complicated life, which, towards the end, was rocked with some troubling developments During the last few years of his life, Lee was accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women

Also, as his health deteriorated, his family, friends and hangers-on allegedly engaged in a series of schemes to swindle his staggering wealth It’s a disheartening final chapter to Lee’s story, but the legacy he leaves behind is bigger than any one man In helping create superheroes who thrilled and entertained us, Stan Lee taught us about power and responsibility, about being weird and embracing what makes us different, and about staying true to your beliefs no matter what the world wants from you On a personal level, he’s been a massive influence on me as a writer, as you longtime Nerd fans may be aware from my attachment to awe-inspiring alliterations that I adoringly adopted from him Honestly, he’s one of the most important writers of the 20th century, but more than that, with his endless enthusiasm and copious charm, Stan Lee felt like a friend

Y'know, I guess one person can make a difference ‘Nuff said

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