STAN LEE: The Most Important Man in Comics in the Last Six Decades

Including a 13 COVERS birthday salute!

I’ll make this simple: Without Stan Lee, there’s no modern comics.

A lot of you are sure to scream at this. But it’s true.

For good or bad, no single person has loomed larger in comics in the last 56 years than Stan the Man, who turns 95 today.

That’s not to say he was the greatest writer or creator or even boss: He wasn’t, by many, many accounts. The lines between what he wrote or Jack Kirby or Steve Ditko or whomever have been hopelessly blurred across the decades amid acrimonious debates, lawsuits, claims and counterclaims. I’m not arguing any of that.

What I am saying is that Stan Lee was a flat-out visionary — a man with an unsurpassed ability to sell Marvel Comics to a generation of readers hungry for something new and different. In so doing, he knocked the Distinguished Competition off its perch and forced the industry to radically alter how its stories were told — and how its comics were sold — well into the next century.

Did he do this alone? No, of course not. But his particularly irradiated brand of opportunism upended the comics world and reset the rules — even if that wasn’t necessarily what he set out to do.

Now, a couple of years ago I did a kind of snarky 13 COVERS salute (click here) featuring the second issues of some of his best-known titles. It was a way of pointing out that Stan Lee didn’t deserve a lot of the artistic credit bestowed upon him by himself and others.

This year, I’m playing it straight.

Because Stan was the Goddamn Man.

Because without him — and, yes, his collaborators — we don’t get THIS:

Jack Kirby pencils, George Klein inks

Kirby pencils, Steve Ditko inks

Kirby pencils, Dick Ayers inks

Kirby pencils, with Sol Brodsky or Frank Giacoia inks

Kirby

Kirby pencils, Joe Sinnott inks

Kirby pencils, Don Heck inks

Kirby pencils, with inks by Syd Shores and Sinnott

Kirby pencils, Bill Everett inks

Kirby and Giacoia

Steve Ditko’s splash page from Strange Tales #110. Dr. Strange’s first adventure was not featured on the cover.

Kirby pencils, Sinnott inks

Kirby pencils, Ayers inks

Cover images and credits from the fantastic, amazing, mighty, uncanny, incredible Grand Comics Database.

MORE: Roy Thomas’ Birthday Message to Stan Lee. Click here.

Author: Dan Greenfield

Share This Post On

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: