LOS ANGELES (CelebrityAccess) — Stan Lee, the iconic comic book writer, editor, and publisher of Marvel Comics, who revolutionized the superhero comic book industry, has died. He was 95.
Lee’s passing was reported by his family attorney, according to the Associated Press.
During his long tenure at Marvel Comics, Lee created, or co-created a universe of characters that include The Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, The Avengers, including the Mighty Thor, Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, and Ant-Man, among numerous others.
In 2009, Marvel Entertainment was acquired by the Walt Disney Co. for $4 billion, bringing the brand’s superheroes to the big screen in what have become some of the top grossing movies and franchises of all times.
Born Stanley Martin Lieber, Lee landed his first job in the comics industry in 1939 when he became an assistant at Timely Comics, which would later evolve into the Marvel Comics brand.
At the time, superhero books were quite popular but their luster faded into the 1940s and early 1950s amid changing consumer tastes and public scrutiny from critics such as Fredric Wertham, who attempted to link juvenile delinquency with comic books.
In 1956, Lee, along with creators such as Robert Kanigher, Gardner Fox, helped to redefine the superhero genre for a new era in what would become known as the Silver Age of comics.
Lee’s key contribution to the medium were characters who, while equipped with fantastic powers, had believable lives, personality flaws and some of the same problems the book’s readers grappled with, along with more serious and sometimes darker themes. The changes broadened the appeal of comics, bringing older readers into the fold, while still appealing to younger fans.
Lee’s first creation (with the late artist Jack Kirby) was the highly successful series the Fantastic Four. Lee and Kirby went on to launch titles that included The Mighty Thor, The Incredible Hulk, The X-Men, and Spider-Man.
Lee served as editor at Marvel from 1945 to 1972 and later became the chairman, CEO and public face of the company. He briefly served as president but later transitioned into a publisher role at the comics company.
In 1998, Lee launched Stan Lee Media, an Internet-based superhero creation, production, and marketing studio, and the company went public through a reverse merger the following year, but several investors related to the enterprise were investigated for securities fraud and the company filed for bankruptcy protection in 2001.
Lee also launched other comics-related ventures, including Stan Lee’s Sunday Comics and POW, but never achieved the same success he found with the Marvel brand.
In 2002, Lee published the autobiography Excelsior! The Amazing Life of Stan Lee and since the Disney acquisition has appeared in numerous on-screen cameos.
In his final years, Lee’s life appeared to become tumultuous. Several times this year, Lee reported significant thefts, including allegations that $1.4m had gone missing from his bank account, and a separate alleged theft of $850,000 and $300,000 which auditors discovered had been diverted from his accounts.
As well, in June 2018, it was revealed that the Los Angeles Police Department had launched an investigation into claims of elder abuse against Lee.
Lee’s survivors include a daughter J.C. and younger brother Larry Lieber. Another daughter, Jan, died in infancy. His wife Joan, who he married in 1947, died last year due to complications of a stroke.