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By Richard Bruce BA, MA, and PhC in Economics

Stan Lee wrote about Super Humans, not Superheroes

Stan Lee co-founder with Jack Kirby of the Marvel superhero universe died in 2018.

Stan started his work in the superhero comics industry in 1939 as an office gofer, he was 16. Stan was 95 at his death. So he fell just short of eight decades in the field, if we ignore his military service during World War 2.

At his death five of the eight top box office earning movies released in 2018 were set in the Marvel universe which Stan helped create, the majority of the five had characters he helped create.

While Stan started writing and publishing superhero stories when he was still in his teens, and was promoted to editor within a few months after his first story was published, his real big break came twenty years later, in 1961.

Stan wanted to quit comics and write novels with fully developed characters. His wife suggested that he simply write comics with fully developed characters. She argued that it did not matter if they fired him as he was planning on quitting anyway.

So Stan did just that. His heroes had flaws, his villains had virtues. His characters were super humans rather than superheroes.

The comics were so successful that everyone in the industry was soon forced to follow his lead.

Stan not only implemented his wife's advice, he implemented the standard wisdom of English teachers, create well rounded, human characters with both strengths and weaknesses.

This might be a good message for English teachers to pass on to their students. Stan started an empire worth billions using the advice of English teachers.

It is claimed that H. L. Menchen said that, Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people. The closest anyone could find to this in his published works is, "No one in this world, so far as I know ... has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people."

Actually a host of people have gone broke underestimating the public's taste. Stan Lee, his partner Jack Kirby, Lucas, Spielberg, and many others have made billions by not being cynical about the public's taste, even if the public they were courting included a lot of children.


Last edited August 26, 2015

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