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Danny Fingeroth explores Stan Lee's overlooked (and just as Marvelous) early years

By Mike Avila

Nearly a year ago, Stan Lee passed away and left an unmatched legacy in the realm of comics. At Marvel Comics, Lee co-created many of the heroes who have become box office sensations in the MCU. But Lee's works of heroic fiction weren't the only meaningful chapters in his 95 years of life.

Comics editor and writer Danny Fingeroth took it upon himself to explore Lee's legacy in his newly released book, A Marvelous Life: The Amazing Story of Stan Lee. Over the course of three years, Fingeroth dived into all aspects of Lee's life. Fingeroth also admitted that he was surprised by the way Lee’s later creations were informed by his early years.

"When I started writing the book, I thought most people are most interested in what Stan did from 1961 to 1970," recalled Fingeroth. "That’s when the main Marvel characters were created. Then as I researched more, I went 'oh, there's a lot of interesting stuff in his early life, in his family life, in those years of doing those comics that are not as well remembered.'"

"Without all of that, you don't have the Stan Lee who emerges in his late 30s in 1961 with Fantastic Four #1," continued Fingeroth. "So I had a lot more of his early life because it turned out to be a lot more relevant and interesting than I thought it would be."

Perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of chronicling Lee’s life was sorting out fact and fiction. In many ways, Lee became a larger than life persona whose history was intertwined with Marvel itself.

"After all of these years of Marvel comics and Marvel movies, the stories of the people who created the characters, their lives become almost as mythic as the characters they wrote and drew about," noted Fingeroth.

A Marvelous Life: The Amazing Story of Stan Lee is out in stores now.

For more from Danny Fingeroth on Stan Lee, watch our latest Behind the Panel One-Shot.