Exhibit features never-before-seen creations from the life of Stan Lee and co-creators, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and more.

License Global

June 27, 2023

3 Min Read
Kartoon Studios

In a further tribute to the legendary Stan Lee as part of his 100th birthday celebration year, Kartoon Studios, the controlling partner of “Stan Lee Universe,” will debut a first-ever exhibit, “Excelsior! The Life and Legacy of Stan Lee,” on July 18, at the Comic-Con Museum, a division of the San Diego Comic Convention. 

In advance of San Diego Comic-Con, the new exhibit, which runs for eight months as part of the Comic-Con Museum, will feature never-before-seen items donated by auction houses and private collectors, including DC Comics, Metropolis Comics, Funko and more.    

Curated by Michael Uslan, originator and executive producer, Batman movie franchise, and David Uslan, both consultants to Kartoon Studios’ “Stan Lee Universe” and the Comic-Con Museum, the exhibit will be highlighted by a series of paintings of Stan Lee from Rob Prior.  

The entire exhibit's first section is devoted entirely to Stan Lee’s co-creators of the Marvel Universe, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko and others. The comic books on display begin in 1941 and follow the history of Stan Lee at Marvel Comics. Pieces of original art from the “Golden Age” include the earliest art still featuring Stan’s comic book writing, plus a rare copy of Captain America #3, 1942, which includes his first use of the pen name “Stan Lee.” The many comic books to be featured across the walls and in display cases include the first issues and first appearances of what would soon constitute “The Marvel Universe.”  

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From what Stan Lee dubbed “The Marvel Age of Comics,” the exhibit will also showcase a few of the rarest pieces of original artwork focusing on the co-creators of the Marvel Universe: Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Don Heck, Gene Colan, Johnny Romita, John Buscema, Marie Severin, Jim Steranko and others. Never-before-seen paintings by the legendary Greg Hildebrandt, who painted the first Star Wars movie poster and the 1970s Lord of the Rings artwork that influenced the look of the films, will be on display.  

Courtesy of DC Comics, there will also be a display of comic books and original art from the historic time Stan Lee met with his chief competitor, DC Comics, where he re-imagined Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash and many others the way he would have created them at Marvel. 

“Excelsior! The Life and Legacy of Stan Lee” will also feature one of the final creations of Stan Lee, never before published.       

“It has been our privilege to manage the rights of the Stan Lee brand and to ensure that we honor the legacy of one of the most creative forces of our generation, as we grow it into an ongoing robust business,” says Andy Heyward, chairman, chief executive officer, Kartoon Studios. “As we celebrate what would have been Stan’s 100th birthday year, we are grateful to have the Comic-Con Museum and the talents of Michael Uslan and David Uslan to curate this unprecedented exhibit and to continue to develop initiatives that pay tribute to the man responsible for creating some of the most memorable and successful characters and stories of all time!” 



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