July 26, 2021

Stan Lee, the man who made superheroes a myth (of business) | Culture

Stan Lee, the man who made superheroes a myth (of business) | Culture

Stan Lee, in his office in Beverly Hills, California, on June 18, 2004. In video, The characters of Stan Lee.

It is early to assess the impact of Stan Lee, deceased today at 95 years, in the popular culture of the 20th century. His figure has been mythologized as creator of the most famous and recognizable superheroes of the comics of today's all-powerful film producer Marvel Comics, a paradox if you like, but that perfectly represents this particular character full of chiaroscuros and contradictions. Lee knew how to change the way of making comics by moving the focus of the characters and artists towards an editor turned into an absolute star: beyond his controversial contribution to the creation of icons such as Spiderman or The Fantastic Four, Lee's success was to devise a system where the genius of Jack Kirby or Steve Ditko, real masters of the pencil and true co-creators (in many cases, unique creators) of the series, was in the background.

His "Stan Lee presents" – as the company's comic book presentation labels still indicate today – was based on a "Marvel method" that completely diluted authorship among a greased creative team where his name stood out above the rest. But, above all, Lee was an innovative teacher of marketing at comic-book, whose successes and successes should be more compared with those of famous entrepreneurs such as Lee Iaccoca than with the most renowned artists of the genre. It is true that one of those great successes, if you can award him some creative merit, was to direct the superheroes of his editorial to reality, getting to make believable the contradictory fact that a man or woman with superpowers in pajamas is "more human"; but it is likely that this success is nothing compared to another more important: create the first "social network" in history, the Marvel Universe, a recognizable space in which the fans were involved with the characters and the editor through emails of the readers where Lee chatted with informal proximity with readers, increasing his legend and taking advantage to lay the foundations of the comic as the axis of the future transmedia.

Its very questionable management of the authorship of the characters and the company, which ended in bankruptcy in the nineties, never tarnished his image: Lee knew how to sell and recreate himself as one of his characters, a true superhero of comics that crossed reality to recreate, himself, in an icon of popular culture of the 20th century projected through its cinematic cameos in the 21st century.


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