Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Stan Lee (December 28, 1922)

Jewish comic-book author Stan Lee (Stanley Martin Lieber) co-created the Fantastic Four comic series in 1961 for Marvel Comics. He's responsible for Spider-Man, the Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, and X-Men. Surely that makes him a hero to a lot of comic readers!

Like Jewish popular music composers, Jewish comic book creators made an enormous contribution to their field. The first tabloid-sized funny paper reprints appeared in 1934, published by an unemployed Jewish novelty salesman named Max Gaines (née Max Ginzberg) and Harry L. Wildenberg, who worked at Eastern Color Printing; their idea took off. The next big thing in comic books -- Superman -- was invented by artists who also happened to be Jewish. I have not seen a credible explanation for either phenomenon, though I found a history of their role that attempts to explain the role of Jews throughout comic history up to Mad magazine. The last paragraph reads:
MAD's conversion from a comic book to a bimonthly magazine marked the end the Golden Age of comic books, which, for its creators, was like a drama in two acts. In act one, Jews seeking to escape poverty invented a new genre that melded popular art and storytelling, and projected Jewish (and adolescent) power fantasies onto their "all-American" superhero creations. During the shorter second act, the five-year reign of EC Comics was marked by an overriding concern about morality, sometimes emanating from a Jewish sensibility. In the words of The X-Men creator Stan Lee: "To me you can wrap all of Judaism up in one sentence, and that is, 'Do not do unto others...' All I tried to do in my stories was show that there's some innate goodness in the human condition. And there's always going to be evil; we should always be fighting evil."

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