The man certainly dissolves a spot in the pantheon of American comic book creators (if not a spot on the Mount Rushmore of them). I know there’s a lot of controversy about how much he contributed in his collaborations with Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, much of which no one really knows the full story. But that aside, you can’t discount how much effect he had on the direction of comic books at the time.
Everyone can agree that comics were pretty lame by the time Lee took over Marvel, and his ideas of the stories that comics could tell helped turn things around. It didn’t hurt that he was collaborating with some of the greatest men to pick up a pencil and comic board.
But what he did so well was serve as a public figure-head to why comic books were so much fun. He became the person when people thought about comic book creators (and I still think he holds that title today). Just as Walt Disney and Jim Henson became synonymous with animation and puppetry, Lee did with comics.
I think in the modern comics world there really needs to be someone like that who just exudes a certain excitement and showmanship to their craft. In that regards, I think the closest would be Mark Millar, who uses his bombastic personality to get attention to his projects.
Anywho, thank Stan for dedicating his life to the medium! The comics world would certainly be completely different without him!