Given today’s precarious job market it may be quite incomprehensible for young people to think that they could be at one company for three-quarters of a century. It’s not impossible, you just would have had to be hired in 1941. Like Stan Lee. Lee is well-known for creating the entire Marvel Universe as we know it in the 1960s, but his career at Marvel – and it’s various previous identities – goes all the way back to the 1940s. The Walt Disney Company took time out recently to remember that, and remember the long career of the man that made the company they now proudly own.
Disney’s top bosses, including chairman Robert Iger, recently bestowed the coveted Spider-Man and Mickey Mouse bronze award on Lee just in time to mark Lee’s 75th “Stanniversary.” (Or “Diamond JubiLEE” if you like.) The one-of-a-kind statue made for Lee will join other accolades for the comic book icon including induction into the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1995. Lee also received a National Medal of Arts in 2008.
Lee first joined Marvel – then Timely – Comics in 1939 as an assistant, doing odd jobs around the office. Over the next few years he began writing filler for Captain America comics, and had graduated to writing his own books when he was suddenly thrust into the role of “temporary” editor when Jack Kirby had a falling out with Timely publisher Martin Goodman in 1941. Although Lee served in the armed forces during World War II, he returned to Timely in 1945, picking up where he left off and writing comics. In 1960, when Goodman tasked Lee with creating a new superhero team, the result ended up launching a revolution.
Lee created the Fantastic Four, Thor, Spider-Man, X-Men, Hulk, Iron Man, and the Avengers through the 60s, and continued writing both Fantastic Four and Amazing Spider-Man until 1972 when he stepped down as writer and became Marvel Comics’ publisher. Even without an official position in the company in recent years, Lee has remained Marvel’s foremost cheerleader and ambassador. At the age of 94 he’s only shown a few signs of slowing down, but he continues to appear in Marvel movies in various cameos, and the second season of the series he co-created, Lucky Man, is presently shooting in the U.K.
Stan Lee can presently be seen in theatres everywhere in his Doctor Strange cameo.