2018 has been a very rough year for those who have grown up loving comics.
Marvel Comics in particular.
When earlier this year we heard the sad news of the passing of Steve Ditko and then Marie Severin, many of us in the comic community looked to that rock, our constant, the ageless ever energetic Stan Lee for reassurance that things were still okay in the comics world. However, we could all see the signs. The reports that Stan’s health had been not what it once was filled us with an unspoken dread about what could be to come.
Then the news came today.
There are some moments when it’s time to get very serious indeed and pay our most humble respects to the passing of a legend of the comic book field. A man that should be on the short list of faces etched on a comic book Mt. Rushmore, the unstoppable creative force which was Stan Lee.
Stan Lee passed away sadly at the age of 95 today, leaving behind the foundations on which an entire comic book empire was built. A staggering body of world renowned work and a mark on the comic industry the likes of which we may never see again. Although many in the upcoming days may highlight the fact that he was the co creator of so many of Marvel’s most iconic characters such as Spider-Man, Iron Man, and the Hulk, the sheer impact of the loss of this comic book great will take years to truly understand.
To that end, the Ghosts are going to take a few moments to speak about their own stories and how the wonderful Stan Lee helped shape their comic book lives.
“As a merry member of the Marvel marching society since I was a wee lad in short pants, Stan Lee has always been the first name on the tip of my tongue when I talk about the greatest comic book creators ever. So much so that he was the first comic creator I could name even at the tender age of 6. I mean he was the one announcing my Spider-man and his Amazing Friends cartoons!
Of course, back then, I thought Stan Lee created everything at Marvel by himself as did many, and it wasn’t until I got older that I appreciated how much Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko brought to Stan’s writing as co creators.
Still though, without Stan Lee, there would be no Fantastic Four, no Spider-Man, No Hulk, No Iron Man, No Avengers, or Ant Man, or Mighty Thor. No X-men. No Doctor Doom. No Coming of Galactus or Silver Surfer. No Black Panther or Dr. Strange. In short, No Marvel Comics.
Because whether or not he created these characters or did it in coordination with others, his ability to not only write engaging dialogue but also sell the concepts to the masses is the real reason we know of all these characters today. He made us all want to buy Marvel comics through his sheer force of will.
With showmanship that would rival the great PT Barnum, he forged himself into the living breathing embodiment of what Marvel Comics stood for and with Stan as our Shepard, he took this small competitor to DC and transformed it into the House of Ideas we know today, and in the process permanently ingrained Marvel’s characters into the American Consciousness in the same way as Coca Cola or Mcdonalds.
As someone that finds himself acting as editor in chief of our little blog and podcast, I have nothing but the utmost respect for Stan as the pitch perfect pitchman and in so many ways try to emulate his bombastic approach to not only writing but getting people personally invested in that writing.
The world has suddenly become a more drab, uninteresting, and definitely less creative place with out you, Stan. May you rest in peace.
Below are just a few of my favorite stories ever penned by the late great Stan Lee.”
“It seemed like such an easy joke to make.
For years now, I would see friends mourn the passing of this artist or that actor or this celebrity or that leader, but I never felt all that personally moved. Obviously any death is tragic, but it was hard for me to feel directly impacted by the passing of someone I never met, even if his or her life’s work had somehow meant something to me. So I would just shrug and remark that I was saving all my grief for when we lost Stan ‘The Man’ Lee, since it was his work that so largely shaped the person I would become. And, like I said, it was easy to make that joke because Stan seemed as immortal as the bombastic creations he helped give the world.
Through the last twenty years of cinematic cameos in films based on characters he co-created, Stan seemed an omnipresent entity. Surely, as long as these movies were being made, Stan would be there to give a one-liner and all but wink right at the camera, right? Maybe he looked a touch older in Infinity War than he did in X-Men, but he was still there, so it all felt right. It felt like he would always be there. It became a game akin to debating which of his powerhouse creations you thought was the strongest: ‘what was the best Stan Lee cameo?’ And while we all had a favorite, there would always be the next one to which to look forward. That’s how it seemed, at least. As foolishly hopeful as it may have been, I would have thought that they’d stop making Marvel movies before we’d face the day where Stan might not be in one.
Obviously Stan meant a lot more to the world than a few chuckle-inducing movie scenes. He was a creative force of nature that helped shape the entire face of the entertainment landscape for the past sixty years (unforgettably with the assistance of other geniuses like Jack and Steve). It’s just hard to put that into words. He was a legend, and we are all lucky to have shared our brief time on this world with him.”
I met Stan Lee once.
For me, my interactions with Stan Lee the person were very brief. I was shuffled through a line of adoring fans, and when my moment came, I got to say hello and thank you before being shuffled off in favor of the next fawning fan. I got to say thanks to one of the most influential folks I’ve ever met; it was glorious.
After his passing today, I really appreciated the Onion’s headline: “Stan Lee, Creator of Beloved Marvel Character Stan Lee, Dead at 95.” Honestly, that’s the Stan Lee that I knew and loved. In no way do I intend to be disrespectful in saying this, and my heart goes out to Stan’s friends and family and those who knew him dearly on a personal level. But real life people have flaws and foibles and are beholden to our human forms. I didn’t really know that guy. My version of Stan Lee transcends all of that. My Stan Lee was a bombastic character, a hyperbolic huckster of fantastic fiction, and a champion of those that needed championing. When finally given the opportunity to do things the way he wanted to do them, he ended up with the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, the X-Men, Black Panther, Daredevil, and Spider-man among hundreds of others lasting creations. He birthed the “Marvel Method” of creating comics out of necessity and spawned a new dawn of creativity in the disregarded realm of comic books. Stan Lee stood up to the comics code and he stood up to racists and bigots and those that would hate their fellow man. He created heroes for the misfits, disenfranchised, the blind, and the horrific rock monsters among us.
Seemingly, no man alone could do these things, and no man himself did. In real life, Stan had lots of help from some very creative and very ambitious people and sometimes conniving folks, too. But the character of Stan Lee did that and more without fault or fail. His enthusiastic voice boomed in my favorite cartoons and movies. His letter columns reached out to the countless fans and made them feel like valued members of a secret club. His stories helped form who I am as a person almost as much as my closest family members. My wife joked today that Stan Lee’s death today was like “losing a close family member; only one you looked up to.” The fiction of Stan Lee and the fiction from Stan Lee added up to a greater sum than the real life Stan Lee could ever conceive possible. The fiction of Stan Lee will live on far longer than any of us will, probably. He will always be out there, striving to encourage us, to teach us hope and tolerance, to guide us to a bold and exciting tomorrow, or maybe just to pick up that next issue (even if in real life we’re just filling in the words as we go while the story presents itself). For that, I say once again, thank you sir. R.I.P. Stan Lee. Excelsior!