Fans mourning ‘architect’ of modern comic book

The Associated Press
Andrew Dalton
Dave Zelio

LOS ANGELES–Stan Lee, the creative dynamo who revolutionized the comic book and helped make billions for Hollywood by introducing human frailties in Marvel superheroes such as Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, and the Incredible Hulk, died yesterday.
He was 95.
Lee was declared dead at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, according to Kirk Schenck, an attorney for Lee’s daughter, J.C. Lee.
As the top writer at Marvel Comics and later as its publisher, Lee widely was considered the architect of the contemporary comic book. He revived the industry in the 1960s by offering the costumes and action craved by younger readers while insisting on sophisticated plots, college-level dialogue, satire, science fiction, and even philosophy.
Millions responded to the unlikely mix of realistic fantasy and many of his characters, including Spider-Man, the Hulk, and X-Men, went on to become stars of blockbuster films.
He won the U.S. National Medal of Arts in 2008.
Recent projects Lee helped make possible range from the films “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Black Panther,” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” to such TV series as “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” and “Daredevil.”
Lee was recognizable to his fans, having had cameos in many Marvel films and TV projects–often delivering his trademark motto, “Excelsior!”
“Captain America” actor Chris Evans mourned the loss on Twitter.
“There will never be another Stan Lee,” he tweeted. “For decades he provided both young and old with adventure, escape, comfort, confidence, inspiration, strength, friendship and joy.
“He exuded love and kindness, and will leave an indelible mark on so, so, so many lives. Excelsior!!”
Lee considered the comic-book medium an art form and he was prolific. By some accounts, he came up with a new comic book every day for 10 years.
“I wrote so many I don’t even know. I wrote either hundreds or thousands of them,” he told The Associated Press in 2006.
Lee hit his stride in the 1960s when he brought the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Spider-Man, Iron Man, and numerous others to life.
“It was like there was something in the air. I couldn’t do anything wrong,” he had said.
His heroes, meanwhile, were a far cry from virtuous do-gooders such as rival DC Comics’ Superman.
The Fantastic Four fought with each other. Spider-Man was goaded into superhero work by his alter ego, Peter Parker, who suffered from unrequited crushes, money problems, and dandruff.
The Silver Surfer, an alien doomed to wander Earth’s atmosphere, waxed about the woeful nature of man. The Hulk was marked by self-loathing.
Daredevil was blind and Iron Man had a weak heart.
“The beauty of Stan Lee’s characters is that they were characters first and superheroes next,” Jeff Kline, executive producer of the “Men in Black” animated television series, told The Blade of Toledo, Ohio in 1998.
Some of Lee’s creations became symbols of social change. the inner turmoil of Spider-Man represented ’60s America, for example, while The Black Panther and The Savage She-Hulk mirrored the travails of minorities and women.
“I think of them as fairy tales for grown-ups,” he told The AP in 2006.
“We all grew up with giants and ogres and witches,” he noted. “Well, you get a little bit older and you’re too old to read fairy tales.
“But I don’t think you ever outgrow your love for those kind of things; things that are bigger than life and magical and very imaginative.”