Writer/editor Stan Lee (1922-2018) made comic-book history together with Jack Kirby in 1961 with Fantastic Four #1. The monumental popularity of its new style inspired Lee to develop similarly themed characters — including the Hulk and X-Men with Kirby, Spider-Man and Doctor Strange with Steve Ditko, and Daredevil with Bill Everett. After shepherding his creations through dozens of issues — in some cases a hundred or more — Lee allowed other writers to take over, but he maintained steady editorial control. Eventually, he helped expand Marvel into a multimedia empire. In recent years, his frequent cameo appearances in Marvel’s films established Lee as one of the world’s most famous faces.
Roy Thomas joined the Marvel Bullpen as a writer and editor under Stan Lee, scripting key runs of nearly every title of the time: Amazing Spider-Man, Avengers, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, Sub-Mariner, Thor, X-Men and more. He wrote the first 10 years of Marvel’s Conan the Barbarian and Savage Sword of Conan; and launched such series as Defenders, Iron Fist, Invaders and Warlock. At DC, he developed All-Star Squadron, Infinity Inc. and related titles, proving instrumental in reviving the Golden Age Justice Society of America. Thomas later became editor of Alter Ego, a magazine devoted to comic-book history, and co-scripted the sword-and-sorcery films Fire and Ice and Conan the Destroyer.
Steve Englehart’s history-making contributions to the Marvel Universe began with the Beast’s solo feature in Amazing Adventures, in which the eloquent X-Man first assumed furry form. As Avengers writer, he masterminded such major events as “The Avengers/Defenders War” (in both teams’ titles) and “The Celestial Madonna Saga.” In Captain America, he identified and solved the “mystery” of the 1950s Captain America (later revived by Ed Brubaker), and gave the true Cap the alternate identity of Nomad. Englehart’s Dr. Strange storyline in Marvel Premiere established the character as Sorcerer Supreme and covered the creation of the universe itself. At DC, he helped revamp Batman, Green Lantern, Superman and other major heroes for the 1970s. Back at Marvel, he wrote the first few years of West Coast Avengers and Silver Surfer. His published novels include Countdown to Flight, Hellstorm (part of the TALON Force series), Majorca, The Point Man and, with wife Terry Beach, books in the DNAgers young-adult series. Englehart has also written TV episodes and designed video games.
Don Heck (1929-1995) worked for Harvey, Quality, Hillman and other publishers before arriving at Atlas Comics, later Marvel, where he penciled and inked stories for virtually every genre: crime, horror, jungle, romance, war, Western and more. With Stan Lee and others, he launched Iron Man, his supporting cast and his early rogues gallery — including the Black Widow, Hawkeye and the Mandarin. He also succeeded Jack Kirby on Avengers. At DC, his artwork appeared in Justice League of America, Flash, Wonder Woman and other titles.
John Buscema (1927-2002) literally wrote the book on being a Marvel artist — namely, How To Draw Comics the Marvel Way — and few were better qualified. His career dated back to the Timely/Atlas era of the late ’40s and early ’50s. Soon after beginning the Marvel Age of Comics, Stan Lee recruited Buscema from the advertising field to the Marvel Bullpen. Buscema followed a long run on Avengers with the long-anticipated first Silver Surfer series. He subsequently succeeded Jack Kirby on Fantastic Four, Thor and other titles. By the time of his retirement in 1996, Buscema had penciled nearly every Marvel title — including his personal favorite, Conan the Barbarian.
After a start as inker to his older brother John, Sal Buscema penciled Captain America, Defenders, Incredible Hulk and more. Famed for his ability to meet tight deadlines, he spread his talents across multiple genres. His 1970s work ranged from Ms. Marvel and Nova to Sub-Mariner and Spider-Woman’s first appearance in Marvel Spotlight. He was the uninterrupted artist on Spectacular Spider-Man for more than one hundred issues and penciled the web-slinger’s adventures in Marvel Team-Up, in which he and writer Bill Mantlo introduced Captain Jean DeWolff. After handling more team-ups in the Thing’s Marvel Two-in-One, he reunited with brother John on Steve Englehart’s Fantastic Four. He later provided inks for Tom DeFalco’s Spider-Girl titles and Thunderstrike miniseries.