Stan Lee has passed away. Five words that comic fans knew would come, but hoped never to hear. But there they are.
TMZ reported that the legendary comic creator died in hospital in the early hours of Monday, November 12th. He was 95. Upon hearing that news, like me, you’re in shock and your heart is probably broken. Stan Lee, a man who has had such a tremendous impact on the lives of so many people of all walks of life is no longer with us.
Stanley Martin Lieber never intended to have his birth name published in a comic because he always wanted to write the Great American Novel, so he would instead use Stan Lee to sign off his first Captain America story. Stan Lee may have never written the Great American Novel, but he had an instrumental hand in creating and shaping something much more important; generations of comic and superhero fans.
For many of us, as kids we had no idea who created the comics or the cartoons they inspired. We had no idea that a lot of the colourful characters came from Stan Lee’s pen and Jack Kirby or Steve Ditko’s pencil. At least I didn’t. It wasn’t until much later that I discovered the man in the Soapbox was responsible for a lot of what I was reading and watching in my formative years. Whether it was X-Men: The Animated Series, Spider-Man or the Marvel Power Hour my Saturday mornings were spent engrossed in superhero cartoons based upon characters from the comics Lee wrote in the 60’s.
Later I would find my way to the X-Men, and through comics I would be introduced to some of the best people I have ever known (including my wife), few of whom I’ve actually met in person. Because that is the magic of Stan Lee. His work connects people of all ages, all creeds and all nationalities. Through his work, my life has changed. I don’t know where I would be without comics, and I don’t know who I would be. Uncle Ben’s often misquoted famous words came from Stan Lee, and with his great power he accepted the responsibility of his position – whether it was subverting the Comics Code to publish a story decrying drug use or giving every misfit or marginalized child a place at Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters, Stan Lee’s writing saved as many people as the characters he co-created.
I never knew Stan Lee, nor did I ever get the chance to meet him. But he has had an immense and unfathomable impact on my life. Comics have become such an integral part of my self identity over the years; they still make up the bulk of my reading materials, and have of late become the source of most of the movies I will see in the theater. Stan Lee has been synonymous with comics, despite his long association with Marvel Comics, and his passing marks the end of an era.
There will be hundreds, if not thousands of tributes to Stan Lee in the comings days and weeks. There will be people using this time to take issue with how much credit Stan Lee deserves with the writing in those early X-Men, Fantastic Four and Spider-Man stories, among others. But this isn’t the time for those discussions. Not now. Now is the time for us to grieve for him in our own way; some will be feel the grief like a gamma radiated fist to the gut, and some won’t know what to do with themselves.
Stan Lee has passed away, and the world has lost a beacon of the comic book industry. A family has lost a father and grandfather; industry veterans have lost a mentor; and we have all lost a man who, through his stories and infectious energy, inspired us to be better than we were.
Stan Lee’s comics have influenced and permeated nearly every aspect of popular culture these days, and Stan Lee’s hand can be seen in many of the Marvel characters on screen. Characters he helped create have been part of some of the biggest movies in the 21st century, and have appeared on more pieces of merchandise than any of us can honestly fathom. His legacy will live on in the characters and stories he co-created. Stan Lee may be gone, but he will never be forgotten.
Also published on Ramblings Of A Comics Fan