The comic book world lost a true legend yesterday when Stan Lee died at the age of 95. Lee was a writer, editor, and publisher of Marvel Comics, and he began in the business in 1939 and went on to create or co-create characters like Spider-Man, Black Panther, the X-Men, Thor, Iron Man, the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk, Daredevil, the Silver Surfer, Doctor Strange and countless more.
My first memory of Stan Lee is from the early 1980’s when he narrated episodes of the animated series “Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends.” I was pretty young at the time, maybe five or six years old, so I didn’t really understand who Stan Lee was. As far as I knew, he was just some random narrator for the show. Little did I know he created most of the characters that I was watching on Saturday mornings.
This went on for another few years until I began collecting comics. My first few comics just happened to be Spider-Man books, and back then all Marvel Comics began with a little blurb about that book’s particular character and finished with the words “Stan Lee Presents.” It was thanks to these little intros and the regular “Stan’s Soapbox” column that I began to understand the magnitude of Stan Lee’s contributions to comics.
I think one of my favorite things about Stan Lee was how much he loved comics and wanted everyone to read a comic. To me, it always seemed like he was trying to say “The movies are great, but check out the comics too.” That makes complete sense to me, and introducing new people to the world of comics is not a bad idea at all.
A few years ago I was lucky enough to be at a convention where Stan Lee was one of the guests of honor. Although I wasn’t able to meet Stan, I was fortunate to be in the same room with him. The pop the crowd gave him when he took the stage is unlike anything I’ve ever seen or heard before. And I’ve been to football and baseball games, to Wrestlemania, even to the Rolling Stones, and those crows can’t compare to the ovation Stan Lee got that day.
I turned 40 earlier this year and for 30 of those years, I’ve been reading comics with characters created by Stan Lee. His creations taught me right from wrong and about accepting others. Stan’s heroes also kept me going during the loneliest time of my life. There is nothing I can say to Stan Lee other than thank you for the countless hours of entertainment your characters have given me.
Rest in Peace Stan.