Whether you are a comics fan or not, chances are you have heard of Stan Lee. His larger than life personality and dedication to the fans are some of the many things that people are remembering in the wake of his passing this week at age 95. Lee, Marvel’s “Chairman Emeritus,” unofficial ambassador, and alliteration admirer, was a staunch champion of the power of comic books over his nearly 70 year career in the comics industry.
He was best known for co-creating such legendary characters and series as the Avengers, Black Panther, Dr. Strange, the Falcon, Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Thor, the X-Men (I could go on).
His decades long career, much of it as Editor-in-Chief and later Publisher at Marvel, meant that he also touched nearly every character and series to come out, from the well-known to the more obscure – everything from westerns to romances. I loved being able to look through our comic book collection to find some of these stimulating samples of Stan’s stories:
We are also fortunate here at the Library of Congress to have two original storyboards that Stan Lee co-created: the ‘birth certificate’ of Spider-Man with Steve Ditko, as well as a page from Captain America no. 147 (February 1972).
Steve Ditko, with whom Stan co-created Spider-Man and Dr. Strange as well as villains Doc Ock and Sandman (among others), also passed away this year in June 2018. Sara W. Duke, Curator of Popular and Applied Graphic Art in the Prints & Photographs Division (where the original art lives here at the Library) says “What’s great about the Spider-Man art, is that there was a real dialogue between Stan and Steve. The hand-writing underneath the balloons on the splash-page, is the same in the marginalia [on page 9]…. The Marvel method was one of collaboration, and while he [Lee] famously took a lot of credit he also generously promoted people who were skilled at their craft.”
Duke also said “There is a pronounced sense of loss of several greats in the comic book community this year, and of course Stan Lee was the most famous because of the work he did to promote Marvel, create compelling superheroes with whom Americans could connect on a personal level and [he] reinvigorated the superhero genre.”