Stan Lee, the Marvel Comics co-creator who left an enduring mark on popular culture and changed the world of comic books forever, has died, reports TMZ.
Lee’s storied career spanned decades. ComicBook.com reports that before he was deployed during World War II, he was hired by another well-known name to do grunt work:
Lee was officially hired into comics by Joe Simon, who collaborated with Jack Kirby to create Captain America (although he was related to the publisher, so he had pretty good odds). Lee would shape the future of Captain America along with Kirby years later. At first, he mostly emptied Simon and Kirby’s ashtrays and filled their inkwells.
After a couple of years as a menial worker at the publisher, Lee graduated to some writing work, including a prose story featuring Captain America and some backup features, in 1941. Later that year, Lee — only 19 years old — took over as interim editor of the publisher following the departures of Simon and Kirby.
His career took off after he returned, and he remained active for the next several decades.
Lee is widely credited for establishing the concept of shared universes in comics, telling the Las Vegas Review-Journal in 2017 that he thought it would give characters more realism:
Well, I used to read the competitors’ books, and they always lived in fictitious cities and drove cars that were whizbang V8s. And I said, “Why not have real things?” If I had Johnny Storm, a teenager, who wanted a car, he’d want a Chevy Corvette. And if they went to the movies, they wouldn’t go to The Bijou, they’d go to Radio City Music Hall. I wanted to keep everything real. I wanted them to live in New York. Iron Man lived on Fifth Avenue facing Central Park in a townhouse. So I felt you could identify people if you know who they are, where they live, what they do instead of making up phony backgrounds for them.
Lee was 95.