28 December 2009

Modern Marvel: Stan Lee Is 87 Today

Stan Lee, modern day myth-maker and Chairman Emeritus of Marvel Comics, turned a very active 87 years old today, and from the sheer amount of respect and congratulations coming Lee's way from all corners of the global comics village, December 28th may soon become comics first official holiday. At least, we think it should.

Stan Lee's a very rare bird. At 87, he's been alive longer than both Marvel and DC Comics have been publishing, and began his career in comics before Superman and Batman did.  As a comics creator, he's one of very few to see, experience, and enjoy the rewards for his work when the industry was young.  He's witnessed every aspect of comics history, and made much of it himself.  As a writer at a newly-formed Marvel Comics, Lee's storytelling encapsulated the fear and anxiety of America's atomic age through character. His creative decisions ushered in "The Marvel Age of Comics," a revolution in comic book's possibility, from content to character to theme and style.

Most people associate Stan Lee with the characters he's given us - Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk, The Mighty Thor, Iron Man, and The X-Men top the list.  It's hard to even determine the intrinsic value of those characters, all of them meaningful, resonating and permanent fixtures of modern culture.  Easier to quantify are Lee's contributions to companies like Marvel , where he served as Editor-in-Chief for twenty-five years until he was named Publisher in 1972. Following his retirement from the publishing side, Lee left New York for Los Angeles, first to oversee the beginnings of what now has become Marvel Entertainment and more recently, to helm his own superhero-centered production company, Pow Entertainment.  

Marvel Comics is 2009's pre-eminent publisher of comic books, and will become part of The Walt Disney Company in less than three days.  Lee's largely responsible for making both happen.  And as a quick visit to his Twitter page [link] will quickly reveal, he's responsible for something more than that.  Lee's served as  an inspiration - and in some cases, a direct intervention -- to many of today's most talented comics creators.  Though none of them can match Lee's record of creative output -- while Marvel's Editor, he also wrote anywhere from two to five complete comic books scripts a week -- they are certainly carrying his legacy of new ideas and high standards forward.  

Stan, abbracadabbling salutes you on your 87th birthday.  More than anything, we value and admire your constant passion,  and your unwavering belief not just in superheroes, but in the infinite power and possibility of imagination. Excelsior!

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