If you’ve read a Marvel comic or if you’ve ever seen a Marvel movie, then you’ve come across Stan Lee’s work. He is the man that made many people dream as he creates iconic figures such as Spider-man, the Black Widow, the X Men, the Fantastic Four, Thor, Hulk and many more that eventually contributed to the creation of one of the most popular movie franchises ever created. As one of the greatest storytellers and producers of all times, he managed to accumulate a fortune of more than $50 million.
He was born on December 28, 1922, in Manhattan, New York City, the son of two poor Jewish immigrants. As a child, he reportedly showed interest for books and movies, probably also because due to his small size and younger age compared to his high school friends, he struggled to make friends and spend most of his time daydreaming about his favorite movies and escaped into fantasy.
Later he started working as an usher at The Rivoli, a movie theatre in New York. With this job, he managed both to alleviate the financial stress his parents were going through and also to amuse himself as he could watch as many movies as he wanted for free. It was during this time that he sensed that a right career path for him would be the one of a screenwriter or movie actor.
At 15 he entered a high school writing contest promoted by the New York Herald Tribune after which he started writing full time, under the suggestion of the journal’s editor. So he eventually graduated very young from high school and entered the WPA Federal Theatre Project. Finally, he landed a job at Timely Comics when he was 16 as an assistant artist, only earning 8 dollars per week at the time that today in 2019 would correspond to about $145.
After some internal disputes within the company, Lee was put at the place of the creative director and head writer after they disagreed with Timely Comics publisher. During that period, Lee started to develop Captain America’s character while World War II was going on. He also went abroad to serve in the US army as a screenwriter but then went back to the US.
Once back in the US Timely Comics had already changed its name into Marvel Comics, where Lee was working full time. Unfortunately, then, during the mid 90′ comics that depicted crimes and fights (the genre that Lee liked to write about) was considered dangerous for civilians. Due to this, Lee was forced to write comics for children that were tedious for him.
He was about to leave the industry after years writing such comics, but he had to support his family, so he spoke to his wife that advised him to write comics destined for adults, where lee could put all his talent, even if it went against the censorship rules. So he did, and that’s how the Fantastic Four have come to birth, making Marvel more successful than expected.
Lee, seeing the impact that he was causing, continued to develop his characters, giving birth subsequently to Spiderman, Hulk, Iron Man, and the X Men. All those characters were a reflection of what was going on in the socio-political environment at the time they were created. San Lee was already a huge success and started touring and giving creative writing lessons across universities.
Today he has left us with a legacy of comics that have also been transposed into movies, impacting even more people worldwide and making Marvel one of the most successful comic businesses ever created.
3 Lessons we can learn from his story
Lesson 1: Follow your inspiration
Lee was passionate about movies and reading since he was young, thus possessing those inclinations naturally. He has been one of these men who never let go of their essence, in this case, a creative and fantasy one, fact that not only led him to a huge financial success but also a personal sense of accomplishment and purpose that no money can ever buy.
Lesson 2: Just Do It
When he first had the concept of Spiderman in his mind, his superior criticized the idea, pointing out that nobody likes spiders and a teenager with problems can’t be a superhero. Nonetheless, Lee went on and put the idea of Spiderman at the last pages of a book they were releasing that it became a best-seller. From this, we can learn that when you have a gut feeling that something’s going to work, probably it’s going to work, so do that something that you feel like doing.
Lesson 3: Be a Black Sheep
At the beginning of his career, he felt embarrassed writing comics as there were man building bridges, working in factories and fighting the war; real things according to him that brought actual results. After years he realized that his work brought so much joy to people that entertainment is vital in people’s lives as if you can take somebody’s mind out of their problems that’s a good thing.
5 Tips to Succeed
Tip #1: Have Fun
To keep yourself creative, you should go to it with the mindset of having fun. If you can keep yourself amused and enjoy the process of doing what you do, then your creative flow will always stay with you, exactly like in the case of Stan Lee. Don’t believe Stan’s right? Albert Einstein thinks the same as he once said that “Creativity is intelligence having fun.”
Tip #2: Do what you like
If you create products that you like, then most likely than not you’ll find people that have the same tastes as yours. Do it for your own pleasure first as if you don’t like or believe in what you’re creating, how can you ever imagine that somebody else will? Then put a lot of attention in creating a good product, meaning to pay attention to the details and quality of the product.
Tip #3: Inject Warmth
He said that he felt that every other comic book had a good story and structure but lacked warmth. What he did instead was injecting warmth into the letters pages of his comics to make the kids feel like being a part of Marvel. Even if he got a letter with written “dear editor,” he changed it into “dear Stan” and instead of answering with “Dear Anthony, thanks for the letter.” he wrote, “Hey Tony thanks for the letter!”. This was a genius move from him as he understood that human relationships thrive on authentic connections.
Tip #4: Think Outside the Box
If you’ll ever start a business or do anything in life, be sure that there will be people doing the same thing as you. This means that you’ll have to directly compete with them unless you think outside the box. In our world, the only way to avoid direct conflict with another entity that provides similar products or services is by making ourselves different by being creative. If you can think outside the box, then there’s no space you’ll have to fight for as you’ll create your own space out of nowhere thanks to the infinite possibilities that our mind has to create something new.
Tip #5: Take Risks
Sometimes there were stories that Lee wasn’t sure about, anyway he always put them out taking the risk of not being liked by the public opinion. Anyway most of the times, whenever he jumped in the unknown, he had tremendous success. In life, there are times when you can’t help but take risks. You can’t predict how things will go, but if you can have enough courage to do what your heart tells you to do, you might hit the jackpot.
“Years ago, I used to feel somewhat embarrassed that I was writing comics.”
“People want entertainment; people want adventure stories.”
“I’d like to think of myself as an entertainer. I feel that if I can entertain people in any way, it’s gratifying.”
“I’m doing what I enjoy doing. To me is such fun creating characters, writing story. “
“It’s so tragic that so many people’s jobs are just jobs. If you enjoy your work, I believe that’s one secret to happiness.”
Rumors say that he was a victim of elder abuse to get access to his $50 million wealth.
Lee appeared as a cameo actor in many of his Marvel movies.
He used to draw the perfect woman for him until one day he found her at a party. She later married him.
His superior long back told him that Spiderman was the worst idea he had ever heard.
Stan Lee can be defined as the godfather of comics as he managed to create an empire that dominated this industry. He will be remembered as one of the greatest creative geniuses and entrepreneurs of human history. Thanks to his talent, persistence, and hard work, he managed to accumulate a fortune of more than $50 Million.