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How Marvel’s Stan Lee Led A Collective Of Creative Minds
By Mikelle Leow, 04 Dec 2018
Image via Jaguar PS / Shutterstock.com
The late Stan Lee, who passed on last month at the age of 95, was described by Marvel Comics executives as someone with an appeal alike P.T. Barnum, billed as the “greatest showman.” In the span of his career, Lee imparted his drive for creative exploration to anyone who had crossed his path.
“It’s just something he infused the group with,” said Dan Buckley, President of Marvel Comics, in a tribute video to Marvel Comics’ former president. “And it’s something that people who followed him have been able to kind of keep that energy going.”
For his book titled Superbosses, Sydney Finkelstein—Professor of Management and faculty director of the Tuck Executive Program at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College—studied the management tactics of Stan Lee and other “superbosses”: leaders who “identify, train and build a new pipeline of talent” rather than focus on surpassing targets.
Most notably, Finkelstein observed that Lee prioritized “keeping talent busy,” as well as eschewed from censoring talent. The author pointed out that Lee gave his workforce plenty of wiggle room to figure out the creative details.
“It seems to me that if a person is doing something creatively, and he feels that’s the way it ought to be done, you’ve gotta let him do it,” Lee told Jeff McLaughlin, a philosophy professor at Thompson Rivers University in British Columbia, who chronicled his interviews with the man in his book, Stan Lee: Conversations.
Lee also believed in giving credit where it’s due, a virtue that still needs working on in the creative world. Finkelstein said Lee motivated his team by creating credits pages in comic books, giving them a “chatty tone.” Before, credits pages were few and far behind in comics, and artists remained anonymous.
Lee reckoned that the increased publicity would not only keep creatives inspired, but also connect them with readers who might enjoy their work.
Lastly, Lee urged his team to dream big. With incredible foresight, he predicted that comic books had the potential to inspire social commentary while remaining lighthearted. Additionally, he defended that comics shouldn’t be seen as less than viable art, which naturally spurred talented artists to want to be a part of Marvel Comics.
[via Seattle Times, cover image via Jaguar PS / Shutterstock.com]
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