Well, True Believers, the time finally came. a month before his 96th birthday, Stan Lee passed away. Down the Tubes
has a couple of nice pieces: In Memorium by Alan Woollcombe
and Tim Quinn’s piece “How to be a Hero.”
Both of these pieces, as well as many others, recount Lee’s history, his start as a teenager working for Timely Comics (which became Marvel), and how he, as no one else ever had, came to personify the field and the artform. Buzz Dixon
, in particular, speaks of the man
and his problematic relationship with the industry
His professional life and the evolution of comic books went hand in hand. So since the details have been done better elsewhere, I just want to say a few personal words.
To say he had an effect on my own writing is a gross understatement. While my own favorite hero
was not one of his creations, his creations did shape my imaginative life. I’ve been reading comics since I could afford to buy them, borrow them, or trade with friends to get them. In 6th grade, I and a classmate made our own superheroes, based on the Stan Lee model. I studied character origin stories at the feet of the master, reading Origins of Marvel Comics, Son of Origins,
and Bring on the Bad Guys
until the covers fell off and had to be taped back together (and long since lost, so if anyone wanted to replace them…).
My love for science fiction and fantasy can also be traced back to Stan and comic books. In jr. high, some of my favorite memories involve stopping on the way home with AAron to read the latest issues at the local Safeway or spending weekend afternoons hanging out at the comic shop with my grandfather. Comics were responsible for the first time I really completed a project I’d started, which was collecting every appearance of the Ghost Rider.
Back in those days, being a comic book fan was a secret club. We had our own language and were able to identify with these characters because we didn’t fit in with most of the kids we were with in school. This was long before the MCU and the multi-billion dollar industry. This was back in a time when you’d read the comic and then flip to the letter column to see what Stan had to say. He was the ultimate geek and made you feel included in the world behind the scenes.
And now he’s gone.
I’m getting to that age when my heroes, the people whose creativity infused my own DNA, are starting to depart. A couple years ago we lost Bowie
, and now Stan Lee. But I’m still here to pass on what they taught me.