Stan Lee, who along with such collaborators as Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Bill Everett and Don Heck created the Marvel Universe, was born 90 years ago today in New York City.
With a little help from his uncle, Lee was hired in 1939 as an assistant at Timely Comics, which was owned by his cousin’s husband Martin Goodman. Twenty-two years later, as editor-in-chief, Lee ushered in the Marvel revolution with the introduction of the Fantastic Four, followed quickly by the likes of the Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor, the Avengers, the X-Men and Daredevil. He rose to president (if only briefly) and publisher of Marvel, as well as its public face, before becoming its Hollywood representative in the early 1980s.
Now, as chairman emeritus of Marvel and co-founder of POW! Entertainment, Lee frequently goes by the title “Generalissimo” on Twitter, where he answers questions and keeps his troops up to date on his many projects. Despite pacemaker surgery in September, he shows few signs of slowing down. “One bit of philosophy I made up some time ago,” Lee told Comic Riffs this week, “[it’s] a bit of a paradox: Everyone wants to live to a ripe old age — but no one wants to be old!” The Washington Post blog also collects some birthday tributes from Tom Brevoort, Roy Thomas, Joe Sinnott and Danny Fingeroth.
To help mark the occasion, I’ve included a handful of my favorite Stan Lee photos (some of which come from this terrific vintage gallery) above and below.