In his first piece writer Phil Desira looks with a personal sensitive nostalgic verve at the comic legend Stan Lee who recently died. As with any legend, their power and influence often transcends death-they evidently become immortal.
Legend is a word that Is often overused, Stan himself would modestly deny his stature, but in his passing the world is all the poorer. To me this isn’t just the world of superheroes and comic books in general, or even science fiction, but the entire world. Let me explain this to you.
The world is a cruel place, this is not news of course. Growing up I was an introvert and I felt like a geek before I knew what a geek was. I liked; cartoons, action figures, video games, movies…and of course comic books. I loved reading, it allowed me to escape into worlds and have adventures with new friends-this didn’t help my geeky stature. Significantly, I didn’t really have friends growing up.
Then I discovered Marvel Comics. One afternoon my mother bought piles of marvel comics. Over the next few weeks I devoured these and they blew my young mind into a thousand pieces. I’ve been joyfully putting the pieces back together in an impossible jigsaw ever since. Of course, I knew about superhero characters before through other comics and live action adventures, but this was different.
You see Marvel have their own style. They’re rock n roll or punk compared to DC’s Classical or Opera. And this was and is all down to Stan Lee. The Marvel Style is really the Stan Lee style. In the late 1950’s Stan was terribly dissatisfied working in comic books and the then Atlas comics and their creative direction. He felt frustrated and wanted to quit…so the legend goes. Confiding in his beloved wife Joan she advised Stan “well if you want to quit why not write comics the way you want to?” This gave Stan a fire in his belly and inspiration!
Stan Lee was/is the proverbial butterfly that created a hurricane with the beating of his wings.
Coincidentally his publisher Martin Goodman asked Stan to write their version of The Justice League…which was the Distinguished Competitions team at the time. Stan Lee took the opportunity and ran with it creating The Fantastic Four. Over the 1960’s Stan Lee and the newly branded Marvel Comics Group created the foundation of the Marvel Universe, one of the longest running cohesive fictional universes of all time.
Flash forward to the 1980’s and in those weeks, I was devouring this awesome stash of Marvel comics reprints. In those periods the Marvel style was a huge revelation for me. Every comic was headlined on the top of the first page “Stan Lee Presents…” Then there was a description of each character. The narration was literal prose, so descriptive and wonderful. Every comic had a page called Bullpen Bulletins. This was an in house group of columns…one of which was Stan’s Soapbox which was this mysterious gentleman’s opinion piece. I loved every word he wrote.
My love for comics has grown over the years continuing as a hobby. But it was always Marvel comics where I would go first. The way Stan Lee wrote grasped me firmly by the shoulder the way a good friend would and confided in me stories of wonderment with a glint in his eye and a chuckle in his voice. I would read everything I could and soon enough collected anything I could with Stan Lee’s writing- Daredevil, X-Men and mostly Spider-Man-my childhood favourite.
Stan Lee was the friend I never knew I needed. His writing became a friend to me and as an extension of himself, he infused his personality into everything he wrote. This meant the world to kids like me. I never knew anyone could understand how I felt over the decades. Peter Parker, helped me understand who I was and how I felt. For this I’ll be forever grateful. Beyond the superheroes, gods and universes, this was the most important aspect to me.
I love comics and the Marvel universe, its style and attitude and rebellious streak. They make me want to be a better man. My moral compass was defined by Stan Lee’s characters despite their faults and imperfections. They were humans in extraordinary situations, fantastic people living in the world outside my window. They gave/give me hope for a better world.
Stan Lee was/is the proverbial butterfly that created a hurricane with the beating of his wings. His writing created a world of wonder for us all and changed the world of entertainment making life a better place for us all. Thank you Stan so very much.
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Second image courtesy of Getty