Role Models & Heroes: Stan Lee (2018)

By March 3, 2018 November 15th, 2018 Bnei Mitzvah, Heroes & Role Models

The following essay about Stan Lee was written by Jacob Genick, a middle schooler, enrolled in City Congregation’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah program. Students spend a year and a half researching their heritage, values and beliefs, and write on a Jewish subject of their choice, their major project; an example of this last component can be seen below. The process improves both the student’s writing and critical thinking skills, as well as his/her self confidence and overall maturity.

A hero is someone who you may not want to be, but you want to have the same values. A role model is a person who has the same values you do and you aspire to be like them.
My role model is Stan Lee. He was born Stanley Leiber on December 28, 1922 in New York City, a first generation American. He had Romanian-born Jewish immigrant parents and was raised in New York City. His parents were not very religious. In 2002 he was asked about his belief in god and replied, “Well, let me put it this way… [Pauses.] No, I’m not going to try to be clever. I really don’t know. I just don’t know.” Lee attended DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx. Stan Lee is still alive today. He is 94 years old. He is married to Joan B. Lee and has two children, Joan Celia Lee and Jan Lee. Lee’s favorite authors include Stephen King, H. G. Wells, Mark Twain, Arthur Conan Doyle, William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, and Harlan Ellison.
Stan Lee got his first job in the comics because he was related to the first publisher of Timely, Martin Goodman, who was Lee’s cousin-in-law. Goodman had an opening in his comic company. In the beginning, Lee was just an intern. He would get sandwiches or coffee every time the people at the company were hungry. If a comic book was missing some dialogue and nobody was free, Lee would fill in the blanks for the comics. Every day, Lee did more and more until he became a fellow writer amongst his peers Jack Kirby and Joe Simon. He also had help from an illustrator named Steve Didko. (I will talk about these wonderful creators later.)
First there were things like funny animal comics, romance comics and comedy comics. Then came what’s known as “The Killer Act” via the creation of superheroes. The first ever superhero was technically Popeye, but the first ever costumed hero was none other than the Phantom. It created a gold rush across America. As a result, Timely decided to get into the superhero business. It started with Marvel Comics Number 1in the 1930s. It then introduced the
Human Torch, Johnny Storm, the Fantastic 4, the Angel, the Submariner, the Masked Raider, and Ka Zar. The two that would go on to have their own series in the 30s were the Submariner and the Human Torch.
They became so popular that Timely Comics decided to make a crossover
between the two characters. At that time, there were not many comic book
crossovers because superheroes were just recently invented. Timely was creating
series competition for DC Comics.
During World War II America was changing. The times called for a hero. Goodman said to Stan, “Stan, I want you to create an ultra-patriotic hero. Someone for the public to look up to.”
So, Stan Lee, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby (Joe as writer, Jack as artist) created a superhero that would revolutionize comics: Captain America. The first issue sold over a million copies. But it was very controversial. It showed Cap going into Nazi headquarters and punching Hitler in the face. The first issue came out when the war had not started yet. Timely was afraid that someone would shoot Hitler before the comic could come out. Many people got mad over this.
Now, this is where Stan The Man came in. He took over the job of writing the
Captain America series for Joe Simon. Joe Simon continued to work for Marvel, just not on the Captain America series. The first issue that Stan Lee did for Captain America was #3. It showed another cover picture of Cap busting Hitler’s face. People started to go to Timely’s office and throw things at the building. Mayor LaGuardia eventually had to put Timely under protection. They started receiving death threats from the Nazi empire.
Lee enlisted in the army in 1941, so he had to hold off on Captain America for the next few months. He got out so fast because he just created slogans for the army and was no use as a soldier. He then came back to Timely, and created Bucky Barnes, Cap’s sidekick. He was using Stan The Man as his comic writer’s name. He explained, “Because I felt someday I’d be writing the Great American Novel and I didn’t want to use my real name on these silly little comics.” So he was not a big comic fan at first, but when he was looking for a job and Martin Goodman had an offer, he took that offer. It was probably the smartest choice he ever made. He changed his named to Stan Lee after WWII.
He started to make comic series every month. Most of them were not superheroes. Some were, “Nelly The Nurse” or, “Eddie of Hollywood” but they were just funny characters, not action heroes. When World War II ended, comics were at a turning point. The public didn’t think that we needed superheroes anymore, that America should, “move on”. The comic industry started going back to the way things were before superheroes were created.
In the 1950s, America was settling down for television. Romantic comedies quickly became the best sellers of the decade. If studios would see an opening for a movie about comic romance, they would take it. When the war was over, parents were concerned about how violent the comics were. So the government developed the comics code authority. It was a rating on a comic book indicating that it was approved by the government as not too violent, not too sexy. Basically, it’s an approval for a PG comic book.
Lee went on to create the characters we all know and love such as Spider-Man, Thor, Xmen, the Incredible Hulk, Daredevil, Iron Man, and Ant Man. The list goes on and on. What I’m saying is, he created many of the world’s most popular super characters for the public. He was the father of our favorite super heroes. And he will be for a long time. He has appeared in numerous Marvel movies playing himself. People think, “Oh, that’s Stan Lee!”
Everybody who is a comic book fan knows who he is. And even if you are not, then you might have at least heard of him. I am now going to discuss the values of Stan Lee that I find important.
Courage. In 1970, the comics code authority was becoming less of a help and more of a negative in the industry. So Stan created a Spiderman comic and said, “Martin, I think we ought to publish this without the approval of the comics code.” That’s how it started. Pretty soon all Marvel comics did not have a C.C.A. And it led to a boom in comics sales. That is one thing I like about Stan Lee. He stands up for what he believes in.
Creativity. This one is pretty obvious. If it weren’t for him… well I would not be writing this paper. He has shown the world massively amusing entertainment for everybody to enjoy. Superheroes would have been nothing without this legend.
Confidence. Stan Lee really has a lot of confidence when it comes to superheroes. When he creates something new, he seems to know that it will be something that his readers will like. Kindness. Stan has given much of the credit to his fellow artists. Steve Didko, Joe Simon, and Jack Kirby were all on his team. He does not take all the credit for his work.
Stan Lee has earned many awards, appeared in many movies and TV shows, and has even directed some. He is a very creative, honest, charitable, man. That is why I choose him to be my role model.