SALT LAKE CITY – “I can’t imagine the Marvel Universe and the comic universe without Stan Lee.” said Doug Wright during this weeks Movie Show.
“He changed the whole pop culture,” remarked Steve Salles
The 95-year-old comic book legend passed away this Monday leaving behind a legacy of some of the most famous superheroes and characters in pop culture, including Spiderman, Iron Man, The Hulk, Black Panther, and Thor.
Lee was born Stanley Martin Lieber to Romanian-born Jewish immigrant parents in Manhattan in 1922, at the corner of West 98th Street and West End Avenue. He grew up dreaming that one day he would write the next “Great American Novel,” and got his start writing press releases for the National Tuberculosis Center, and writing obituaries for a local news service.
He later moved into the space of comic books in 1939 with the help of his uncle when he started as an assistant at Timely Comics that would later become Marvel. He started doing all of the odd jobs around the shop, doing anything from refilling the inkwells of the artists, to fetching lunch, to erasing the pencil marks from the finished drawings. He quickly moved up to writing in filler for the comics they were producing, and then after a falling out between some of the heads at Timely, Lee was promoted to be the interim editor at just 18, and showing a knack for it became editor-in-chief, and later publisher a role that he would use to shape the way that the world looked at comic books.
In a response to rival comic book publisher DC’s revamp of the Flash who would team up with the superhero group The Justice League of America, Lee was tasked with creating a similar group. At this time in Comic history, most of the characters were pretty one dimensional and had no major flaws or hardships to endure. While talking about this new assignment with his wife, and still harboring the hope of writing the next Great American Novel, she suggested that since he was looking for a career change anyway, he might as well experiment and write a story that would interest him, because if it didn’t go well, he was looking for a career change anyway.
This change created a more mature, and a flawed hero that had problems and issues that any regular person would face. This change led in part to the mass appeal and influence that comics would have on the culture that we live in and help them become as popular as they would become, giving the fans something to connect to in the humanity that they would find on the page and a connection to the characters that Lee and his partners introduced.
One of the other things that Lee changed was the relationship that the fans would have with the creators of their favorite hero. He introduced credits on the splash pages of their comics that would let the reader know not only who created the character, but who the illustrator was, who the writer was. He included news about the staff at Marvel as well as the monthly column he would write entitled “Stan’s soapbox.”
Throughout his career, Lee had a deep love with his fans, that lasted all the way until his passing, in a recent interview as the cameras were getting set up Lee went off about how much he really cared for those that, even though he would never meet any of them, how much he still cared about them.
So many wonderful moments with Stan came spontaneously. As we were setting up the camera one day, he casually started talking about his fans. We know how much Stan meant to you, and we thought it would be nice for you to hear how much your support meant to him. pic.twitter.com/WTX8U1afLm
— stan lee (@TheRealStanLee) November 14, 2018
Lee also had a special love for the fans of what some have called the nerdiest state in the union.
Dan Farr one of the creators of FanX Utah’s largest comic convention remembered how impressed Lee was when he visited Utah, especially with the people.
“The people here are just amazing,” Farr said, “Especially when you know the fans go all the way up to the governor of the state! You know the governor picked [Lee] up from the airport both times that he came here, and I bet Stan didn’t have that happen at any of the other conventions that he went to.”
His experience in Utah was quite the memorable one too, leaving him to remark, “You people have the greatest Comic-Con in the world!
To hear the rest of the conversation as the Movie Show remembers Stan Lee, as well as the backstory about how Stan Lee wasn’t planning on coming to Salt Lake, but how we were able to get him here on multiple occasions, check out the podcast below.