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A Stantastic Birthday

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Happy 83rd birthday to Stan “The Man” Lee! Without Stan (not to mention his pencil-pushin’ partners, most notably including Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko), the comics industry as we know it today would be a radically different place–if it even existed at all. Stan created or co-created Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Dr. Strange, Thor, the Avengers–most of the Marvel Universe originally came from Stan [1]. These characters Stan co-created also changed the entire model on which superheroes were constructed: his heroes experienced self-doubt, angst, love, fear–they actually had depth, which was pretty revolutionary for superheroes in the 1960s. [2]

Stan’s still considered something of an ambassador for Marvel and the industry as a whole (which is why, of course, he has a cameo in every Marvel-related movie produced these days). He’s likely still the comics-related personality most recognizable to the general population. Of course, he’s likely the only comics-related personality recognizable to the general population… [3]

(Thanks, Jeff, for the tip!)

[1] Please don’t think I’m leaving out Kirby and Ditko and the rest of the artists who worked with Stan on those books in the 60′s and 70′s. Stan himself freely admits that he’d usually toss off the initial beginnings of character ideas and the artists would do all of the work on the visuals, meaning they had as much to do with the character creation as Stan did. Anyone who knows me knows I would not disrespect the role of the artists in this process–but it’s Stan’s birthday, so he gets the focus. [2] Most of the general population’s images of superheroes as hyper-inflated Boy Scouts who call civilians “citizen,” spout cornball dialogue and generally exhibit all the depth of the paper they’re printed on are based on comics and other media representations from the 1940s and 50s. That’s a stereotype that hasn’t been valid for almost half a century, yet still persists because most people don’t read comics…in no small part because that stereotype still persists. That particular catch-22 really, really gets my Superman Underoos in a bunch. Grr. [3] Not counting someone like Kevin Smith, who started in other media and then came to comics after earning his fame/notoriety elsewhere.

Written by Allen

December 28th, 2005 at 1:07 pm

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