Stan Lee is probably the worlds most well known comic book professional and if you don't believe it, ask anyone who doesn't read comics on a regular basis to name someone in the profession. (Okay, Charles Schulz and Walt Disney might be the first names you hear because people who don't know anything about comic books really don't know anything about comic books, but that's a technicality that can't be helped.)
He was a 40 something comic book editor sick of his job and ready to quit when he came up with the Fantastic Four. The comic was successful and so he stayed and created Spiderman, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, Daredevil & a host of other demi-gods that populate the world of modern American mythology.
Stan, like Walt Disney was one of the few creators smart enough to establish a bond with his audience. On Sunday evenings Uncle Walt would visit your living room personally introducing you to his characters & theme park . "Stan the Man" did the same thing monthly in the Marvel letters column. With nicknames for the Marvel Staff (known to regular readers as the Marvel Bullpen), and gimmicks like The Merry Marvel Marching Society & the Marvel No-prize, Lee had a way of making you feel you were a part of something cool and you didn't have to take it seriously.
For me, Stan was the Dave Letterman of comic books. It was his sense of humor that made him one of my childhood idols. He made reading comics fun. I wanted to be Stan Lee or at the very least, have a job at Marvel. Reading the monthly antics of the Marvel Bullpen and realizing that this was how some adults actually made a living made me envious. I could hardly wait to grow up, move to New York and write Iron Man stories for a living and if you knew just how much I hate cold weather you would see just how powerful Stan's monthly brainwashing really was.
Happy Birthday Stan. Thanks for populating my childhood with stories of amazing heroes overcoming impossible odds and thanks for the laughs. Until the Hulk wears a tutu and sings "I'm A Little Teapot", make mine Stan Lee.