Nov 13, 2018

In Pace Requiescat: Stan "The Man" Lee

Stan Lee (December 28, 1922–November 12, 2018) has passed away. Known for many things, including being the co-creator of the entire Marvel Universe, Stan needs absolutely no introduction. He's made cameos in almost all of the Marvel movies, and has, since at least 1961, been the face and the voice of Marvel Comics.

In Pace Requiescat: Stan "The Man" Lee
Comics Cube Roundtable

MIGS: Stan Lee taught us that heroes are normal people too. They are flawed. They make mistakes. They have problems. That's what makes them relatable. Stan Lee humanized superheroes. I became a comic book fan because of his creations. Without a doubt, The Face of Marvel.

BRIAN: Comics wouldn't be comics without what Stan brought to 'em.

KATHERINE: I love this quote that’s on Marvel’s homepage right now:

MATTHEW: When I was a kid, I wrote him a letter with a couple drawings inside. He wrote me back. It was one of my prized possessions. I'm going to lose it in the theater when I see the inevitable "In loving memory..."

TRAVIS: My nephew just asked how many days they get off school because Stan Lee died.

BEN: I’ve always found the argument about how much credit Stan should get for his creations to be yet another bit of annoying “see how much I know” fan bullshit. Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby should be lauded and remembered for their enormous contributions to creating Marvel as we know it, but that doesn’t mean we need to tear down Stan Lee to do it. He was the voice of the comics, and the voice of the company loudly proclaiming to the fans and readers, "See how great these comics are!" Not to mention, he edited every single book, which doesn’t mean he just corrected typos. He requested art changes, storytelling changes, reworking entire pages for clarity and impact if needed. Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko together revolutionized comics, and changed fictional storytelling as a whole. It’s only unfortunate that he has to die for some of us to appreciate him. I will forever be grateful for his contribution to comics that have impacted my life. Not to mention, he created an all new collaborative style for comics “the Marvel method,” which is still used to this day by superstar writers like Dan Slott and Grant Morrison.

MATTHEW: I honestly think that without his work alongside Kirby and Ditko, ushering in The Marvel Age, comics may very well have become a dead art. At least, comics as we know them.

LIZZY: Absolutely. The world of comics wouldn’t be at all what it is today without Stan Lee. Love him or hate him (and I loved ol’ crusty Uncle Sam, despite his less than savory attributes), he changed the world.

JD: Stan Lee is my personal Walt Disney.

MATTHEW: In the world of comics, there is a Before Stan Lee, and an After Stan Lee... and I don't think anybody else has ever even come close to his impact. Yes, his many wonderfully talented collaborators played heavily into it, and he couldn't have done it without them, but "Stan Lee Presents..." was something that was printed in every book for a reason.

NOAH: Stan going out to speak at college campuses about comic books elevated the art, not just in terms of recognizing comics could be for adults, but by intellectualizing the entire comic book process and making the discussion accessible. We’ll never know what comics would have been without Stan, and I’m glad for that.

MATT: He did make the state motto of New York world famous. The indelible nature and perseverance of “with great power comes great responsibility” will easily stand the test of time. If nothing else, that is the true motto of the Marvel hero.

DUY: There's going to be much debate in the next several days about Stan's merits and flaws, but there are a couple of the latter that I want to address in particular. First, the idea that Stan is "less" for being a hands-off writer, in letting Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko do much of the writing work, like pacing, blocking, and whatnot. As anyone who's ever worked on a group project knows, when you're working with someone who's really good, you stay the hell out of their way. Scottie Pippen's not taking the last shot from Michael Jordan. I will point out that Alan Moore, who writes super-detailed scripts, also leaves leeway for his artists, acknowledging that artists have a better visual sense. And Stan had two of the greatest of all time. And the script, the dialogue, all that stuff's important too. Do I wish he'd been more liberal with the credit? Sure. But let's not take away the credit he does deserve. Without Stan to tie together everything in the Bullpens, in the copies on the covers, in the splash pages; without his distinctive voice; without his narration and dialogue, nothing would have been the same.

MATTHEW: It's impossible to have any type of lengthy discussion about Stan without some of his flaws coming up. That's inevitable. It's important to remember that he never even pretended to be perfect, and he infused a lot of his imperfections and flaws into his characters. Those imperfections and flaws were the foundation for The Marvel Age. He crafted a great big, imperfect world, full of wild, imperfect characters that made mistakes, lost, got knocked down... and the heroes always got back up. He put the flawed hero at the forefront of the genre. Previous to that, a superhero was perfect, always knew what to do, and were the absolute best at what they did.

JEFF:  I enjoyed how he engaged readers, he spoke to us and made us feel like we were part of a special club for reading Marvel.

DUY: That's the best part.

JEFF: No, the enthusiasm he brought was the best. It was such a part of him, no one could fake the excitement he always seemed to have when he talked about what he was doing or promoting. It was like a neverending supply.

LAMAR: In scholarly circles you'll hear the phrase "man created God, so God could create man" thrown around often, and with a bright insistence. When I think about what that means, across ages, Stan Lee is one of the people that comes to mind first.

He didn't just create one God, he gave these Gods all the traits of mankind in a prominent manner not seen often in fiction until he did it.

Comic books are our modern day mythology and folklore, and Stan Lee is undoubtedly the singular scribe responsible for the spreading of these gospels to every corner of Earth. Another caretaker of gods, Julius Schwartz, said that if you take what you love and infuse passion into it, you will have more of what you love for both yourself and everyone else. To do so for 60 years, and never lose an ounce of this passion and fortitude through success as well as failure, is a task us mere mortals were fortunate to have eaten the labor fruits of.

RACHEL: He created things that made me feel. I was afraid of me and it was largely because of the way other people responded to me. I was a mutant and after, after his stories told me my own story, it made sense.

MAX:  I feel like anything I have to say about the man has been said better by others...but what an amazing life and talent.

TRAVIS: Stan Lee is Stan Lee's greatest creation, because no arguing or arbitration will take Stan's Stanness and credit it to anyone else. Stan Lee's hair. You can cartoon Stan Lee just from the hair on his head and face and it's Stan Lee. Did he grow it, did someone else make it? Doesn't matter: It's Stan Lee. And, he did invent this image. Stan Lee played a public role to the hilt for over sixty years of his life, a role so solidly conceived, so individual, that he is imprinted on all our minds.

DUY:  I also want to take this time to talk about Stan's social consciousness, in particular, Joe "Robbie" Robertson, one of the first African-American characters to be treated seriously, and Amazing Spider-Man #96-98, the drug issues that Stan decided to publish even without the Comics Code Authority's seal of approval. But that social consciousness is most evident in the Bullpen Bulletins that he wrote, which were as much a part of the Marvel manifesto as anything else. He wrote three Bullpen Bulletins that are now being reposted today all over social media, about how comics should say something, how they should stand against hatred and bigotry. 

That's as much a part of his legacy as any line of dialogue he's ever written and any character he ever created. And I'd like to close this off with four of the greatest lines in comics, and all of fiction:
"With great power must come great responsibility." -Amazing Fantasy #15 
"Only truth is constant. Only faith endures. And only love can save them. But where shall love be found?" -Silver Surfer, The Ultimate Cosmic Experience
"'Tis not by dropping out -- but by plunging in -- into the maelstrom of life itself -- that thou shall find thy wisdom! There be causes to espouse!! There be battles to be won! There be glory and grandeur all about thee-- if thou wilt but see!" -Thor #154  
"In a sleazy hotel room, in a shabby hotel, some sneaky sinners are startled by the sight of a sparkling spider signal!" -Amazing Spider-Man #22

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