VFT:LA OCT '13 ft. STAN LEE (Chairman Emeritus of Marvel Comics)
VFT:LA was honored to host a moderated Q & A with the legendary STAN LEE in Hollywood! Not only is Stan the Father of comic as we know them, he's also a WWII Vet. After his great talk, Billy Ray Cyrus decided to show up to sing us a few songs. It was truly an epic night. Check out photos below or here on the VFT Flickr stream.
Stan Lee Bio:
Stan Lee is the former chairman of Marvel, and co-creator of many iconic characters such as Spider-Man, Thor, X-Men, Avengers, Iron Man, and many more. And as a WWII veteran...he's one of us. Lee entered the U.S. Army in early 1942 and served stateside in the Signal Corps, writing manuals, training films, and slogans, and occasionally cartooning. His military classification, he says, was "playwright"; he adds that only nine men in the U.S. Army were given that title. Vincent Fago, editor of Timely's "animation comics" section, which put out humor and funny animal comics, filled in until Lee returned from his World War II military service in 1945.
Read his full bio below and be sure to follow him on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/TheRealStanLee
Stan Lee (born Stanley Martin Lieber on December 28, 1921) is an American writer, editor, was the Chairman Emeritus of Marvel Comics, and memoirist. Though no longer officially connected to the company, save for the title of "Chairman Emeritus", Stan Lee remains a visible face in the industry.
With several artist co-creators, most notably Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, he co-created Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, and many other characters, introducing complex, naturalistic characters and a thoroughly shared universe into superhero comic books. He subsequently led the expansion of Marvel Comics from a small publishing house to a large multimedia corporation.
Lee was born in New York City, New York, in the apartment of his Romanian-born Jewish immigrant parents, Celia (Solomon) and Jack Lieber. His father, trained as a dress cutter, worked only sporadically after the Great Depression, and the family moved further uptown to the cheaper Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights. When Lee was nine, his only sibling, brother Larry Lieber, was born.
Lee attended DeWitt Clinton High School in The Bronx, where his family had moved next. A voracious reader who enjoyed writing as a teen, he worked such part-time jobs as writing obituaries for a news service and press releases for the National Tuberculosis Center; delivering sandwiches for the Jack May pharmacy to offices in Rockefeller Center; working as an office boy for a trouser manufacturer; ushering at the Rivoli Theater on Broadway; and selling subscriptions to the New York Herald Tribune newspaper. He graduated high school early, at age 16½ in 1939, and joined the WPA Federal Theatre Project.
With the help of his uncle, Robbie Solomon, the brother-in-law of pulp magazine and comic-book publisher Martin Goodman, Lee became an assistant at the new Timely Comics division of Goodman's company. Timely, by the 1960s, would evolve into Marvel Comics. Lee, whose cousin Jean was Goodman's wife, was formally hired by Timely editor Joe Simon.
Young Stanley Lieber's first published work, the text filler "Captain America Foils the Traitor's Revenge" in Captain America Comics #3 (May 1941), used the pseudonym "Stan Lee", which years later he would adopt as his legal name. Lee later explained in his autobiography and numerous other sources that he had intended to save his given name for more literary work. This initial story also introduced Captain America's trademark ricocheting shield-toss, which immediately became one of the character's signatures.
He graduated from writing filler to actual comics with a backup feature, "'Headline' Hunter, Foreign Correspondent", two issues later. Lee's first superhero co-creation was the Destroyer, in Mystic Comics #6 (Aug. 1941). Other characters he created during this period fans and historians call the Golden Age of comics include Jack Frost, debuting in USA Comics #1 (Aug. 1941), and Father Time, debuting in Captain America Comics #6 (Aug. 1941).
When Simon and his creative partner Jack Kirby left late in 1941, following a dispute with Goodman, the 30-year-old publisher installed Lee, just under 19 years old, as interim editor. The youngster showed a knack for the business that led him to remain as the comic-book division's editor-in-chief, as well as art director for much of that time, until 1972, when he would succeed Goodman as publisher.
Lee entered the U.S. Army in early 1942 and served stateside in the Signal Corps, writing manuals, training films, and slogans, and occasionally cartooning. His military classification, he says, was "playwright"; he adds that only nine men in the U.S. Army were given that title. Vincent Fago, editor of Timely's "animation comics" section, which put out humor and funny animal comics, filled in until Lee returned from his World War II military service in 1945.
In the mid-1950s, by which time the company was now generally known as Atlas Comics, a so-called "decency campaign" led by psychiatrist Dr. Fredric Wertham and Senator Estes Kefauver blamed comic books for corrupting young readers with images of violence and sexuality. Comic-book companies responded by implementing strict internal regulations, and eventually adopted the stringent Comics Code.
During this period, Lee wrote comics in various genres including romance, Westerns, humor, science fiction, medieval adventure, horror and suspense. By the end of the decade, Lee, by now living with his family in Hewlett Harbor, New York, on Long Island, had become dissatisfied with his career and considered quitting the field.
In the late 1950s, DC Comics editor Julius Schwartz revived the superhero genre and experienced a significant success with its updated version of the Flash, and later with super-team the Justice League of America. In response, publisher Martin Goodman assigned Lee to create a new superhero team. Lee's wife urged him to experiment with stories he preferred, since he was planning on changing careers and had nothing to lose. Jack Kirby also suggested creating heroes with flaws, ones whose superpowers would not enable them to overcome personal problems such as relationships and money.
Lee acted on that advice, giving his superheroes a flawed humanity, a change from the ideal archetypes that were typically written for pre-teens. His heroes could have bad tempers, melancholy fits, vanity, greed, etc. They bickered amongst themselves, worried about paying their bills and impressing girlfriends, and even were sometimes physically ill. Before him, most superheroes were idealistically perfect people with no serious, lasting problems: Superman was so powerful that nobody could harm him, and Batman was a billionaire in his secret identity.
Lee's superheroes captured the imagination of teens and young adults who were part of the population spike known as the post World War II baby boom. Sales soared and Lee realized that he could have a meaningful and successful career in the medium after all.
The first superhero group Lee and artist Jack Kirby created was the family the Fantastic Four. Its immediate popularity led Lee and Marvel's illustrators to produce a cavalcade of new titles. With Kirby, Lee created the Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, the Mighty Thor and the X-Men; with Bill Everett, Daredevil; and with Steve Ditko, Doctor Strange and Marvel's most successful character, Spider-Man. He is also credited along with Kirby with the creation of the Silver Surfer.
Stan Lee's Marvel revolution extended beyond the characters and storylines to the way in which comic books engaged the readership and built a sense of community between fans and creators. Lee introduced the practice of including a credit panel on the splash page of each story, naming not just the writer and penciller but also the inker and letterer. Regular news about Marvel staff members and upcoming storylines was presented on the Bullpen Bulletins page, which (like the letter columns that appeared in each title) was written in a friendly, chatty style.
Throughout the 1960s, Lee scripted, art-directed, and edited most of Marvel's series; moderated the letters pages; wrote a monthly column called "Stan's Soapbox"; and wrote endless promotional copy, often signing off with his trademark phrase, "Excelsior!" (which is also the New York state motto). To maintain his taxing workload yet still meet deadlines, he used a system that was used previously by various comic-book studios, but due to Lee's success with it, became known as the "Marvel Method" or "Marvel style" of comic-book creation. Typically, Lee would brainstorm a story with the artist and then prepare a brief synopsis rather than a full script. Based on the synopsis, the artist would fill the allotted number of pages by determining and drawing the panel-to-panel storytelling. After the artist turned in penciled pages, Lee would write the word balloons and captions, and then oversee the lettering and coloring. In effect, the artists were co-plotters, whose collaborative first drafts Lee built upon.
Because of this system, the exact division of creative credits on Lee's comics has been disputed, especially in cases of comics drawn by Kirby and Ditko. Although Lee has always effusively praised the Marvel artists, some historians argue that their contribution was greater than for which they are given credit. The dispute with Ditko over Spider-Man has sometimes been acrimonious, although he and Lee are formally credited as co-creators in the credits of the 2000s Spider-Man films.
In 1971, Lee indirectly reformed the Comics Code. The US Department of Health, Education and Welfare asked Lee to write a story about the dangers of drugs and Lee wrote a story in which Spider-Man's best friend becomes addicted to pills. The three-part story was slated to be published in Amazing Spider-Man #96-98, but the Comics Code Authority refused it because it depicted drug use; the story context was considered irrelevant. With his publisher's approval, Lee published the comics without the CCA seal. The comics sold well and Marvel won praise for its socially conscious efforts. The CCA subsequently loosened the Code to permit negative depictions of drugs, among other new freedoms.
Lee also supported using comic books to provide some measure of social commentary about the real world, often dealing with racism and bigotry. "Stan's Soapbox," besides promoting an upcoming comic book project, also addressed issues of discrimination, intolerance or prejudice. In addition, Lee took to using sophisticated vocabulary for the stories' dialogue to encourage readers to learn new words. Lee has justified this by saying "If a kid has to go to a dictionary, that's not the worst thing that could happen."
In later years, Lee became a figurehead and public face for Marvel Comics. He made appearances at comic book conventions around America, lecturing at colleges and participating in panel discussions. He moved to California in 1981 to develop Marvel's TV and movie properties. He has been an executive producer for, and has made cameo appearances in Marvel film adaptations and other movies.
Lee was befriended by a former lawyer named Peter Paul, who supervised the negotiation of a non-exclusive contract with Marvel Comics for the first time in Lee's lifetime employment with Marvel. This enabled Paul and Lee to start a new Internet-based superhero creation, production and marketing studio, Stan Lee Media, in 1998. It grew to 165 people and went public, but near the end of 2000, investigators discovered illegal stock manipulation by Paul and corporate officer Stephan Gordon. Stan Lee Media filed for bankruptcy in February 2001, and Paul fled to São Paulo, Brazil. He was extradited back to the U.S., and pled guilty to violating SEC Rule 10b-5 in connection with trading of his stock in Stan Lee Media. Lee was never implicated in the scheme.
Lee created the risqué animated superhero series Stripperella for Spike TV. In 2004, he announced plans to collaborate with Hugh Hefner on a similar superhero cartoon featuring Playboy Playmates. He also announced a superhero program that would feature Ringo Starr, the former Beatle, as the lead character. Additionally, in August of that year, Lee announced the launch of Stan Lee's Sunday Comics, hosted by Komikwerks.com, where monthly subscribers could read a new, updated comic and "Stan's Soapbox" every Sunday. The column has not been updated since Feb. 15, 2005.
In 2005, Lee, Gill Champion and Arthur Lieberman formed POW! (Purveyors of Wonder) Entertainment to develop film, television and video game properties. The first film produced by POW! was the TV movie Lightspeed (also advertised as Stan Lee's Lightspeed), which aired on the Sci Fi Channel on July 26, 2006. POW! president and CEO Champion said in 2005 that Lee was creating a new superhero, Foreverman, for a Paramount Pictures movie, in tandem with producer Robert Evans and Idiom Films, with Peter Briggs hired to collaborate with Lee on the screenplay.
Lee in 2005 filed a lawsuit against Marvel for his unpaid share of profits from Marvel movies, winning a settlement of more than $10 million.
Marvel, in 2006, commemorated Lee's 65 years with the company by publishing a series of one-shot comics starring Lee himself meeting and interacting with many of his creations, including Spider-Man, Dr. Strange, The Thing, Silver Surfer and Dr. Doom. These comics also featured short pieces by such comics creators as Joss Whedon and Fred Hembeck, as well as reprints of classic Lee-written adventures.
In 2007, POW! Entertainment started a series of direct-to-DVD animated films under the Stan Lee Presents banner. Each film focuses on a new superhero, created by Stan Lee for the series. The first two releases were Mosaic and The Condor.
In June 2007, Walt Disney Studios entered into an exclusive multi-year first look deal with Stan Lee and POW! Entertainment. "It's like the realization of a dream. Ever since I was a young boy, Disney represented the best and most exciting film fare to me. ... I look forward with indescribable enthusiasm to being a part of that world and contributing whatever I can to keep the legend alive and growing," said Lee.
Date of Birth: December 28, 1921
Birthplace: New York City, NY