I have an inscribed, autographed Stan Lee poster hanging on my wall. It features a group of superheroes from a comic feature most folks never heard of -- 7th Portal. It was an online animated series from about ten years ago, and ran for 20 or so episodes before the whole thing went bust when the dot.com bubble burst.
I treasure the incription and the autograph -- Stan Lee probably had more to do with me becoming a cartoonist than any other influence. But I often wish that the poster featured any other Stan Lee-associated artwork, something more familiar, such as the Fantastic Four or Spidey, instead of these obscure cookie cutter creations from the latest venture Lee was hawking at the time. But I console myself with the idea that perhaps the 7th Portal, failed or not, was a more authentic Stan Lee production (he even provided one of the character's voices) than the many more-famous comic book icons with which Lee was credited as being "co-creator." There's a famous quote by Jack Kirby (Fantastic Four, Captain America, and many more) that "Stan Lee and I never collaborated on anything! I’ve never seen Stan Lee write anything.”
But despite the controversy over his creativity and his writing, there's little doubt that Stan Lee's marketing genius created modern comic book culture. To that end, in January, the Producers Guild will be awarding Lee a special Vanguard award, citing the claim that he “has exerted more influence over the comic book industry than anyone in history."
Read more about Lee and the award here at Entertainment Weekly.com.