Sunday, November 11, 2018 will be a date that takes a little bit of the soul of all comic book fans (and even some non-comic book fans) – it was the day Stan Lee died. We knew it was coming; reports on bad health have been circulating for year and he’s been reducing his convention traveling for a while now. It doesn’t take away the sting though.
Lee is responsible in part for most of the Marvel Universe (the list of characters he created is here. For every Spider-Man, you have a forgotten character like Growing Man and Living Brain. For every Daredevil that comes to the big and small screen, you get Goom or Galaxy Master that are left behind to never be used again. Frankly, he had more misses than hits; but the hits that stuck have impacted generations of kids and adults.
I started reading comics in 1991 (I had been flipping through comics before that at the grocery store); my first book was G.I. Joe #109. I was mesmerized that one of my toys had non-cartoon stories about them. While it wasn’t a Lee comic, it was from Marvel and they wouldn’t have the licensing rights without Lee’s creations. It was soon after that I started picking up X-Men books – probably the series that sucked me in and took the majority of my money since then.
From the X-Men and other mutants, I started getting everything; my collection has various runs and trades of Spider-Man, Black Panther, Dr. Strange, the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, and so on. I started to absorb the history of the characters. From there, I expanded to DC and eventually the creator owned stuff that came with Image, IDW, etc.
As I got older, my collecting when in and out. I didn’t buy as many during college; then I got a “real grown-up job” and had some disposable income to start collecting again. Eventually monthly floppies turned into digital books and trades. Almost 18 years later and I can still keep people informed on what’s going on.
The last 10 years have been exciting for Marvel fans; the movies have revitalized the industry. Iron Man is a household name, people are interested in Ant-Man, and “I am Groot” has been uttered more than it really should have been. I have friends asking me about characters that normally wouldn’t care about comic characters. Because of Stan, I was ahead of the time (like most comic book nerds).
There are a lot of “because of…” related to Stan. Because of the movies, my kid have a love of Stan; they look for him in every movie. Because of the Man, they want to know more about the characters. Because of Stan, I have a deep bond with my kids. Because of Stan, I read for more than an hour a day.
I told my kids Monday night that he had passed and I thought my son was about to cry (he held back the tears). They asked if we’d see him in more movies and cartoons; I said at least 2 more (I assume he’d be in Captain Marvel and Avengers 4).
Over the last few days, I’ve watched tributes, listened to memories, explained the deep roots of Stan. Here are a few of my favorites…
Here is every Stan cameo:
One of my favorite theories of the MCU was Stan as the Watcher; thank you James Gunn for doing it at the end of GOTG2:
And how can you talk about Stan without his cameo in Mallrats (thank you Kevin Smith):