This is going to be a difficult one…
It’s not that I’m overcome with emotion or anything like that (marble statues have referred to me as “stoic”) but the sense of loss I’m experiencing is a profound one.
Stan Lee, Stan “THE MAN” Lee, has died.
It’s such an odd thing to write down for me. Lee has always been around in some form throughout my entire life. When Steve Ditko passed on, I wrote a bit about how I got my start reading (and my introduction to comics) in the form of the Marvel Comics Presents reprints of the original Spider-Man books that were created by him and Lee.
The other thing that happened in the early 80’s was the Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends cartoon which Lee narrated. His narration sounded exactly like the panels of text in the Spider-Man comics I was so familiar with. He was a showman, his excitement for his creations was contagious and it fostered my love for comics all the more.
Here was a man, in his 60’s at that point, that was telling fantastic stories about superheroes. The effect that had on me, that someone who was my grandparents age, was still excited about things that I found important, changed me forever.
Lee continued to be synonymous with Marvel comics throughout my youth. I read the daily Spider-Man comic strips every day in the Detroit News. His name was literally on thousands of books, Stan’s Soapbox was a regular feature in Marvel books, and he appeared in pretty much every Marvel film in recent memory. In fact, he pre-filmed a bunch of cameos for future Marvel films last year…we haven’t seen the last of him and we probably never will.
The hottest of hot-takes are going to be inescapable today. Stan had a lot of trouble over the last couple years and watching it unfold as a fan was a totally upsetting. There’s also going to be a lot of talk about how much of Marvel he really created as his contributions to various characters were hotly debated both in the public realm and with his various co-creators. Stan Lee was less a personality and more a cosmic force of nature that often tended to overshadow his collaborators. I think we all know that nothing can truly be done alone.
I never put down comics. I never grew out of superheroes. I still live for the escapism that new comic book days provide me.
I have Stan Lee to thank for that.