There are times when a celebrity makes an impact on thousands, even millions of people world wide. Elvis, Lennon, Cobain; these are some of the artists who contributed to the meaning to so many lives in this world. With out these artists, the world seemed to grow a bit darker.
This week my childhood died. Rest in peace to the man who had the most impact on my life, Stan Lee. I can’t remember a time that his creations weren’t apart of my life.
When I was small, I would watch Spider-man and His Amazing Friends, or one of the other cartoons based off of his co-creations. I remember reading an article about how today’s super heroes are our modern day mythology, I wish I remember where I read it. It was good. It compared our heroes to the God’s of old, and the entertainment of their stories.
As the father and co-creator of so much that is popular in today’s society, Stan’s stories leave a legacy that defines a generation. For me it starts with what some would call his greatest creation: Spider-man. This character reached so many people because he was the different hero. The alias of Spider-man, Peter Parker was an average kid with everyday problems. He wasn’t considered the good looking, popular person that was the arch-type celebrated at the time. He wasn’t a jock and was considered a geek, when geek wasn’t a celebrated choice. He was described in Amazing Fantasy number fifteen, as a “wall flower”. He was bullied, and didn’t get the girl of his dreams.
That’s probably why he ended up being so popular because he spoke to the realities of most people. When his Uncle Ben was murdered, the quote, “With great power comes great responsibility,” has been something that has spoken to my heart and has stayed with me. Spider-man was who I could relate too, much like Black Panther was a character that the African-American community could relate too. Stan’s stories were made for us.
Note that I did start this blog on Monday as I read of Stan Lee’s death.
I felt a loss that was like I lost a grand parent, I lost a teacher. This was like I lost a mentor, who taught me everything I ever needed to know in life. Grandpa Stan, telling me the stories to entertain and educate. I was fortunate to meet him in 2011 at the San Diego Comic Con, it was a moment that meant so much, because I looked up to his works my whole life. I thanked him for doing the work that impacted my life. I doubt that my personal story with his work, is unique. I mean he had a huge stage, and millions of fans. Some famous people are among the fandom, and I’m glad that I get to see people share the stories of how Stan impacted their lives.
I should say that my love of comic books helped me get into the highest reading level classes in school. My imagination is very open to the strange possibilities of what the impossible can do, and I don’t think many things would surprise me if that happened. (Alien invasion, anyone?) This is what carried on with my high work ethic, and part of the reason I like to help people.
My helping and motivating comes from the lessons learned in the stories that I would read, and I still continue to read to this day. Selfishly, that’s the way I feel when I help someone. It gives me a real glimmer into that world that I so love. I was able to save a friend from taking their life, and it was the greatest feeling, I had that impact, much like the hero’s on the page.
Stan got me to actually like reading and being a fan of comics got me into seeing all the comic movies that would come out. That in turn lead me to seeing the movie that would change the direction of my future. Sin City(2005) was that movie that changed my life. Watching how that movie looked just like a comic, caused me to want to become a director, and that’s one of the great things I get to do these days.
Stan has had an impact on my family as we bound over the love of comics and superheroes. I see that my son loves the Hulk, and I’ve been able to sit down and read the comics to him. My oldest loves Spider-man, which I was surprised about, but I’m glad that our love for Spidey is something we’ll share over the rest of our lives.
If there could be something I would say to Stan Lee, I would say this: Thank you. Thank you for being the voice of reason, the voice of inspiration, and imagination. Thank you for giving people who felt like losers a safe place to escape too. This world is a harsh place, and your legacy will continue to inspire generations. As a fan of mythology, thank you for giving us a newer, updated mythology to follow. I hope one day to be as inspirational as you, and I thank you for making my life just a bit more enjoyable.