Tag Archives: Spider-Man

Jew of the Week: Stan Lee

The Genius Behind Marvel Comics

Stan Lee (Credit: Gage Skidmore)

Stanley Martin Lieber (1922-2018) was born in Manhattan to Romanian-Jewish immigrants. He grew up in poverty, working all sorts of odd jobs from a young age, including delivering sandwiches and selling newspaper subscriptions. He dreamed of becoming the next great American novelist, and wrote obituaries in his spare time. Upon graduating from high school at 16, he got a job as an assistant at Timely Comics, a company started by his cousin’s husband, Martin Goodman. Lieber spent his time refilling inkwells, erasing pencil marks, and bringing lunches – for $8 a week. Eventually, he got a chance to write something of his own. Joe Simon and Jack Kirby (also Jews) had recently come up with a new hit superhero – Captain America – and needed content. They gave the young man a shot, and he wrote his first story under the pseudonym “Stan Lee”. He would later explain that he did this because in those days comics were still unpopular and generally regarded as silly, and he was embarrassed to put his real name. His story was a success, turning Lee into a writer. When Kirby and Simon left Timely Comics over a dispute with Goodman, Lee was put as a temporary editor, despite being just 19 years old. As his stories continued to be hugely successful, Lee went from temporary editor to editor-in-chief, holding the position for over 30 years (except for a few years of service in World War II). Timely Comics would be renamed Marvel Comics, and Lee would co-create (mostly with Jack Kirby, who returned to the company) some of the most popular superheros of all time, including Spider-Man, Iron Man, and the Hulk; the X-Men, Fantastic Four, and the Avengers. Lee’s heroes and stories were unique in that they did not portray the typical, flawless protagonist. Instead, his characters were more complex, had everyday problems, and were sometimes just outright nerdy. The stories explored deeper, and at times darker, themes. These became wildly popular, opening up the comic book market to a much wider audience. Lee also pioneered a new approach of connecting comics writers with their fans to build a strong comic book community. Unlike others, he would credit writers and illustrators right at the front of the issue, and even name inkers and letterers that were typically omitted from mention. Lee was at the forefront of social change, writing about serious topics that were still taboo (like drug abuse), while introducing the first African superhero in comics in 1966 (Black Panther) and the first African-American superhero in 1969 (Falcon). Lee himself wrote countless stories, edited just about all the others, and also penned a monthly article, “Stan’s Soapbox”. In 1981, he moved to Los Angeles to take Marvel from print to television. He would serve as a producer on multiple TV and film adaptations of Marvel characters, most famously in the current Marvel Cinematic Universe – now the highest-grossing film franchise of all time. Lee was also a noted philanthropist and has done a great deal of charity work (especially through his Stan Lee Foundation). He was happily married for nearly seven decades. Lee struggled after his wife passed away last year, and a number of people sought to take advantage of him in his old age. Sadly, he passed away yesterday, at 95. Disney CEO Bob Iger called him “a superhero in his own right,” and said: “The scale of his imagination was only exceeded by the size of his heart.” Click here to see a tribute to Stan Lee, featuring some of his best movie cameos.

9 Ways to Talk Like a Jew

Words of the Week

I used to be embarrassed because I was just a comic book writer while other people were building bridges or going on to medical careers. And then I began to realize: Entertainment is one of the most important things in people’s lives. Without it they might go off the deep end. I feel that if you’re able to entertain people, you’re doing a good thing.
– Stan Lee

Stan Lee’s First Comic, 1941

Jew of the Week: Menachem Golan

Menachem Golan

Menachem Golan

Menachem Globus (1929-2014) was born in Tiberias, Israel to Polish-Jewish parents. He served as an air force pilot and bombardier during Israel’s War of Independence (when he changed his last name to Golan). After this, he studied theatre and drama in England, followed by film-making in New York University. Together with his cousin Yoram Globus, Golan began making Israeli movies in the 1960s. They would go on to produce some of Israel’s most famous classics, such as Operation Thunderbolt about the IDF Entebbe raid that saved Israeli hostages in Uganda, and the comedy series Eskimo Limon, which left a permanent mark on Israeli culture. In 1979, Golan purchased the Cannon Group and expanded into Hollywood. Throughout the 1980s he produced some of the biggest action hits of the time, including Sylvester Stallone’s Over the Top, Chuck Norris’ The Delta Force, and Jean-Claude Van Damme’s Bloodsport and Kickboxer. He was also one of the first to see the allure of adapting toys and comic books to film, producing Masters of the UniverseSuperman IV, and trying to bring Spider-Man to the big screen (it did only after Sony bought out the film rights). In all, Golan produced over 200 films, and directed 44 of them himself, earning three Academy Award nominations, and the Israel Prize. Sadly, Golan passed away last Friday. Paying tribute to the filmmaker, Chuck Norris said that it was Golan who turned him into a superstar, and Van Damme tweeted: “I love you, and will always do.”

Words of the Week

…splitting Judaism into ‘orthodox, conservative, and reform’ is a purely artificial division, for all Jews share one and the same Torah given by the One and same God. While there are more observant Jews and less observant ones, to tack on a label does not change the reality that we are all one.
– Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe