Stan Lee powered my imagination and made reading, science and art fun. How much more impact can you have on someone?
As I poured over the tributes and looked back at the cultural impact Stan’s creations had on me, I was a little overwhelmed at the pervasiveness of his influence. Some of my first memories are of me rampaging around the house as the Hulk- especially after Bill Bixby morphed into Lou Ferrigno. I watched the 60’s cartoons religiously on WPIX11 and the old Channel 5. Then I watched the 80’s cartoons in Saturday Mornings when they were on. Those theme songs are etched deep in the synapses. As I became a comic book consumer, Marvel and Stan Lee’s creations were front and center. I was probably responsible for the oil crisis with the demands for being driven to Tarrytown to the local comic shop as I became acquainted with the X-Men, Daredevil, The Punisher and other groups.
As my tastes “matured”, the scope of Lee’s universe building brilliance took on greater meaning. The sheer scope of his accomplishments is staggering. His non-condescending progressiveness taught as many people to look at different people with respect as Sesame Street or Mr. Rogers. As animation and moviemaking techniques became cheaper and more advanced his stories and characters reached new heights and levels of darkness and maturity (most likely pushed by Frank Miller and the exploits over at DC)
His showmanship was amazing. His interaction with fans on Stan’s SoapBox made you feel like you were part of the team. His hucksterism was endearing and his voiceovers in the cartoons called to mind a favorite uncle! It was ok to be excited about the work that you do.
I’m aware of Lee’s complicated legacy with is artists and fellow creators. I have certainly heard of the conflicts that existed (and continue to exist- his estate is going to be a nightmare and probably have a lot of litigation amongst family members and other interested parties). That said, he leaves a formidable legacy. Lest I forget the Comic World has lost two lions this year in Lee and Steve Ditko (Spider-Man’s creator/artist). Add to that the genius of Jack Kirby and his cinematic scope and colorful vision . . . and you have a wonderful universe populated with amazing, soulful characters. They are truly modern (and sometimes in the case of Thor, Hercules and others . . . recycled) myths. I’m a member of a few comic groups and I found a quote which summed up the comic component of Marvel’s impact. Here is the quote from Gary Hoffman, “Kirby and Ditko made me want to read the next page. Stan Lee made me want to read the next issue.”
What has Stan’s influence wrought? Well, I’m a proud comic book dork- but hopefully I’m more than that. His influence made me a voracious reader, a curious scientific tourist, a wide-eyed consumer of art and history, and an attempted bon vivant. Most importantly, I have finally consigned myself to the label of being a “creative” with information gathering and processing synapses that extend like tentacles both wide and deep. I like to educate, I like to tell stories, I like to entertain, I like to surprise, I like to inspire action. It has taken a long time to get to that point.
With many projects out and more coming, I’m full of creative energy and (probably misguided!) confidence that my impact will extend far beyond a job description.
And to that, I say thank you Stan for planting a bunch of seeds that are blooming now.
Here is a nice podcast from Full Cast and Crew on Stan Lee’s Legacy.
Lee’s death should be a sad event. However, for me it isn’t.
Lee made it to 95. I’m happy that he got to see his creations make it credibly on the big screen. Not everyone loves the new wave of Marvel movies, but they are good representation of what he tried to create, but didn’t have the money to execute onscreen. I think he knew the effect that he had on billions of people. ‘Nuff Said!
Favorite Rogue’s Gallery: Spider Man’s
Some of my favorite covers and story lines: