Comic book icon Stan Lee — the creative force behind superheroes such as Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, and X-Men — died Monday at the age of 95 in Los Angeles, NBC News reported.
Stanley Martin "Stan Lee" Lieber was born Dec. 28, 1922, in New York City and got a job when he was a teen as an office assistant at Timely Comics in 1939, the network said, adding that he had been working odd jobs to help his parents pay the bills. It was during the Great Depression.
'I thought it would be a temporary job'
"I must've been the only one who applied because I got the job, and I thought it would be a temporary job," Lee said in 2011, NBC News reported. "I had never thought of writing comics."
Despite Lee saying that comics were viewed as a children's novelty when he began work at Timely, the genre "got more and more interesting" as time went on, the network said.
Flash forward to the early 1960s when Timely Comics was renamed Marvel Comics in an attempt to compete with DC Comics' hit title "Justice League of America," NBC News said.
The Fantastic Four, then Spider-Man, and more
Lee and artist Jack Kirby's creation was the Fantastic Four, the network said, followed by Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, Doctor Strange, and the X-Men.
“What Stan did in the '60s was really to go out there and evangelize, to be a P.T. Barnum or a Sol Hurok, a promoter of the fact that comics weren't just a children's medium and certainly not just a stupid children's medium,” longtime comics writer, executive, and historian Paul Levitz told Vulture.
Lee was named Marvel's publisher and editorial director in 1972, NBC News said, and he became known for dynamic copy that put a spotlight on social issues.
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After almost 60 years with Marvel, Lee left to create his own media group, Stan Lee Media. He kept a hand in Marvel, being named the company's chairman emeritus.
But Stan Lee Media was short-lived and in February 2001, the company filed for bankruptcy. In 2004 Stan "The Man" Lee was back in business with Pow Entertainment, where he continued developing new characters and franchises.
Marvel got its second life with a score of films and televisions series in the late 2000s through the 2010s. Lee served as executive producer on dozens of the new Marvel incarnations. In almost every film, Lee appeared in short cameo roles to the delight of his fans.
Although he continued to work until the end of his life, Lee noted in his later years that he struggled to enjoy the medium he used to bring joy to many millions of people.
“My eyesight has gotten terrible, and I can’t read comic books anymore,” he told Radio Times in 2016. “The print is too small. Not only a comic book, but I can’t read the newspaper or a novel or anything. I miss reading 100 percent. It’s my biggest miss in the world.”
Still, Lee continued developing new superhero ideas well into his 90s, NBC News said.
Lee's wife, Joan, died of a stroke in July 2017, and he's survived by a daughter, Joan Celia Lee, the network reported.