Happy Accidents #017 - Stan Lee
On the brink of quitting, a 'Fantastic' accident is created that saves the day
Accidents can sometimes lead us to unexpected, beautiful places. And that was the case with comic book legend, Stan Lee.
In fact, Lee's journey to becoming one of the most iconic figures in the comic book industry was a happy accident.
SETTING THE STAGE
In the late 1950s, Stan Lee was about to quit his job and leave the comic book industry for good. He was struggling and felt discouraged.
Instead, he ended up creating one more story that would go on to change the course of comic books forever.
That story was "The Fantastic Four"
But here's where the happy accident comes in: Lee's initial concept for the comic was actually quite different from what it eventually became.
Lee had initially planned to create a story about a team of superheroes with a more traditional dynamic - the typical leader, sidekick, and love interest.
But as he began writing, Lee found himself struggling with the story's pacing and character development.
THE HAPPY ACCIDENT
That's when his wife urged him to create the kind of characters he wanted to write about, rather than what he thought would sell.
He decided to create a superhero team with flaws and personal problems, unlike the perfect heroes that had come before.
And that's how the Fantastic Four - a team of superheroes with real-life problems - was born.
Lee's fluke decision to take a different approach paid off in a big way. The Fantastic Four quickly became a hit with readers and helped to usher in a new era of comic book storytelling.
But Lee's happy accidents didn't stop there.
The success of the Fantastic Four led to the creation of more iconic characters like Spider-Man, the X-Men, and the Hulk. And Lee's willingness to take risks and try new things helped to transform the comic book industry into what it is today.
And to think, he was THIS close to leaving comics for good!
So, the next time you're feeling discouraged or unsure about the path you're on, remember that sometimes the happiest accidents can lead us to our greatest achievements.
Some fun facts:
Stan Lee was born Stanley Martin Lieber on December 28, 1922, in New York City.
Lee started as an assistant at Timely Comics in 1939 and eventually worked his way up to become the editor-in-chief in the 1960s.
Stan Lee's real-life cameo appearances in Marvel superhero movies have become a tradition.
Stan Lee is credited with co-creating over 300 different characters during his time at Marvel Comics.
Lee was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1995.
Stan Lee was married to Joan Lee for almost 70 years until her death in 2017.
The lessons here:
Perseverance: Stan Lee's story teaches us the importance of perseverance. Even after considering leaving the comic book industry, he continued to work hard and create innovative ideas that eventually led to his success.
Collaboration: Collaboration played a big role in Stan Lee's success. He worked closely with artists and writers to bring his ideas to life, and this collaboration helped him create some of the most iconic characters in comic book history.
Adaptability: Stan Lee was adaptable and able to change with the times. He embraced new mediums, such as movies and TV shows, and was able to keep his characters relevant and popular for decades.
Believe in Yourself: Stan Lee believed in himself and his ideas, even when others didn't. He had the confidence to pitch his ideas to publishers and fought for his vision, which ultimately led to his success.
And hey, check out this fun story from Jason Feifer (Editor in Chief of Entrepreneur Magazine) about his random meeting with a business founder who ended up with his old cell phone number. It's a crazy story about how they met and then hit it off through complete serendipity!
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