As a young man, Stan Lee etched his name into the annals of comic book history. For it was then that he created characters who will live forever in our hearts, such as Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four. He proved such a dynamic, creative force that Marvel kicked him upstairs, so to speak. "So what has he done with the rest of his life," you ask?
Well, after he moved into editorial roles, he oversaw all the different magazines Marvel produced. For example, along with Roy Thomas, he was instrumental in bringing "Conan The Barbarian" to Marvel. He also served as Marvel's spokesperson. As he had created so many great heroes, his was a name we could trust. If Stan Lee said we needed to buy something, or that we would enjoy reading a particular story, well, it was time to raid the piggy bank, and head out to the store.
Today, Brian Michael Bendis is a major writer for Marvel Comics. When he was just starting out, he made up signs for a Superman Parade and Comics Convention, and welcomed the celebrities as they arrived. He describes how he met Stan Lee in his book Total Sell Out.
Stan Lee may not have superpowers, but he possessed the keen wit to look at Bendis' name tag, which is how he welcomed the aspiring writer and artist so warmly. Then again, perhaps he does have superpowers. In "Super-Skrull," an episode of the 1990s animated TV series, The Fantastic Four, he pauses the action to welcome viewers, and then activates his English/Skrull translator device.
When the action resumes, everyone can understand what the Skrull are saying. This allows our heroes to discover the nefarious plot, and us to enjoy the story.
Most ninety-year-olds would spend their days relaxing at home. But not Stan Lee: he's got too much enthusiasm for life. While he still advises Marvel, spearheads projects, headlines comic book conventions, and appears in Marvel movies, he insists on keeping active and serving others. He maintains his youthful fitness, nurtures young adults, and protects New York City by working as a janitor at Midtown High School.
In "Stan The Man," a recent episode of Ultimate Spider-Man, Stan risks his life to help Spider-Man and Mary Jane rescue Harry Osborn and Principle Coulson from the evil Lizard. In doing so, he shows off his incredible fitness, and demonstrates how the tools and skills of a custodian can be used to protect and defend others.
No wonder Spider-Man loves and admires his creator! Just don't expect Stan Lee to expound on all the amazing ways he's benefitted our lives. For as he says in the episode, "My greatness is only overshadowed by my modesty."
We can all learn something by studying the incredible life and times of the great Stan Lee.