The comic writer Stan Lee – co-creator of iconic characters including Iron Man – the Fantastic Four – Spider-Man – Daredevil and the X-Men – has died aged 95.
Teaming up with artists such as Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko – Lee revitalised the comics industry with his superheroes – giving them complex emotional lives to colour their all-action adventures.
As a writer and editor charged with keeping multiple stories going at the same time Lee wove them together into a seamless fictional world where Iron Man could join forces with the Fantastic Four and Captain America could find himself a wedding guest alongside Doctor Strange.
The Marvel Universe he created crossed from page to screen in a series of TV and movie adaptations and changed the face of popular culture.
TMZ celebrity news website said an ambulance was called to Lee’s Hollywood Hills home early on Monday and that he died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
Born Stanley Martin Lieber on Manhattan’s Upper West Side in 1922 Lee’s childhood was marked by the Great Depression.
In his 2002 autobiography Excelsior! – Lee described how his father’s struggle to find a steady job had forever affected him: ‘It’s a feeling that the most important thing for a man to do is to have work to do – to be busy – to be needed’ he wrote.
At 17 Lee landed a job at a publishing company owned by his relative Martin Goodman and began writing scripts for superhero and mystery comics.
When Goodman fell out with his editor in 1941 Lee found himself editor-in-chief at just 19.
Apart from a brief stint writing copy for the army during the second world war Lee spent the next 20 years giving voice to a succession of caped crusaders – cowboys and cops.
But as the 60s dawned – the formula was starting to wear thin.
What happened next is the subject of some dispute.