Stan Lee, the man who pretty much reinvented superheroes and comic books, died recently at age 95. That's a good long run for anyone, and considering all the joy he brought into the world this doesn't seem like a time for grief so much as remembrance and celebration.
Stan Lee was a prolific writer whose work was paired with that of a spectacular array of comics artists: Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Wally Wood, and too many others to name. Together they created Marvel comics, which were simultaneously more fun and more serious than the "kid stuff" comics which preceded them. Stan the Man was the driving force behind cultural phenomena like Spiderman, the Avengers, Iron Man, the Fantastic Four, the Black Panther, the Incredible Hulk, and dozens (if not hundreds) more.
Unlike previous superheroes, those written by Stan Lee had greater complexity, insecurities, and identifiable problems which superpowers alone couldn't solve. Not that their superpowers weren't spectacular and satisfyingly kinetic.
As a youth who could be charitably described as a waddlesome nerd some 55 years ago, I loved the Marvel titles and collected them religiously. My idea of Heaven at the time was to buy the latest issues at the drug store (comics were priced at about 12¢ then) and scurry off to my basement bedroom, frequently with a bag of BBQ chips to enhance the number of senses being stimulated at the same time.
I thought I was just having fun, but it turns out I was also learning a lot about concise, visual storytelling. This served me well in later years when I was writing and laying out picture books, as well as scripts for television and film (stories for another day). But did those comics do more for my career than four years of college? In all likelihood, the answer is yes. And here I am, more than half a century later, still telling stories with characters who live in little boxes and speak in word balloons.
I still have a lot of those old comics, lovingly stored in individual plastic envelopes. And it's a good thing, because new Marvel comics really aren't what they used to be. Oh, the films are alright if you're in the mood for big, dumb, eye-popping CGI spectacle (and sometimes I am). But the comic books themselves have taken a hard left political turn and are now primarily vehicles for the wish fulfillment of their Social Justice Warrior writers and artists.
You have superheroes fighting Trump stand-ins, storming the battlements with (not against) Antifa types, and fighting things like income inequality and inflexible gender roles rather than city-devouring monsters, evil scientists, and planet-conquering aliens. Many of the classic superheroes created by Lee have been "updated" with minority figures in the name of diversity. And there's nothing wrong with diversity, but when Stan Lee wanted a black superhero, he damn well created one who was black rather than simply transferring the costume of an existing hero to whatever ethnic stereotype was the flavor of the month.
And I don't have a problem with Ice Man from the X-men coming out as gay, but do we really need page after page of him flirting with other guys instead of saving the world? Is Captain America a better hero for our times since Marvel declared that this super-patriot has actually been an undercover Nazi all along? And is The Mighty Thor quite as awesomely god-like now that he's been given a vagina? A process which sounds like it would leave you mighty thor, as Daffy Duck might say.
Mind you, all of this SJW stuff is absolutely killing Marvel financially on the comics shelves. Unsurprisingly, no one wants to read this crap.
Stan Lee gave us heroes instead of whiners. And in so doing, became something of a hero himself.
Stan Lee has a cameo in almost every Marvel film.
I enjoyed several of Stan Lee's movies but, like most franchises, feel that the sequels perhaps should not have been made. Did we really need an Ironman 3 ?
It was fun spotting Stan do his Alfred Hitchcock-like cameos.
Got a handshake and a "hi!" from Stan at one of the east coast comic cons decades ago. Nice chap.
Excelsior, True Believers! (raises a glass)
Flirting is an art form. I'm a middle aged cis het dude my own self. I practice with a lesbian friend of mine, Does that make me a bad person?
Bravo!!! Well said !!!.......getting caught with a comic book in my day was not always a good thing (wasted time and such) ...........
Catching a kid with a comic book nowadays is not always a good thing (and wasted time is the least of a parents worries).........
"Here son ....give the comic book and I'll give ya a 'Playboy'..."
@ Geoff King
so you are not eagerly awaiting IronMan XXVII ???
Make mine 'Sgt. Fury and the Howling Commandos" any day........
Stan was a genius. But you’re right, Stilt...the SJW stuff has ruined the “Marvel Universe”.
Prime example; just LOOK at the Avengers cast. A bigger bunch of far-Left jackasses
you’d be hard pressed to find. Those lunatics have pretty much ruined that entire genre
for me. Bastards.
What the flock did he just say?
My copy of Amazing Fantasy #16 resides securely in my safe deposit box along with Conan the Barbarian #1 and Silver Surfer #1, all signed by Mr. Lieber. True fans will understand.
This is more education about comic books than I've had in decades; and it's sad that comics have changed so much and in this manner. Sad, but I suppose not too surprising. Back to the news today: Stan Lee did indeed have a good run;and this is a very nice memorial, Stilton.
Speaking of education: @CJ. Thanks for that post which I had to look up. You might assume a CIS-HET would know what he was; but I'm so damn far behind the times with all these acronyms.
The only new thing I've learned in years is how to do better job stretching my back, butt & hamstrings.
Ah, those were the days.
It should be mentioned that Mr. Lee was a veteran.
Isn't it truly sad how the left ruins EVERYTHING it touches. It's baked into their DNA.
So the question arises are comic books imitating reality or are people imitating the comic books. I always thought of them as Training Manuals for Superheros. Now that my powers are fully developed and my value to society is evident, I am in the process of selling my collection from the late 50s through the 70s, in hopes they may influence the next generation.
I didn't like Marvel comics growing up. The 'heroes' always had a dark side that put them in conflict with the law. DC comic heroes were always unambiguously on the side of the law.
Loved SGT Fury and His Howling Commandos. The rest of Marvel I could take or leave, and usually left. After SGT Fury moved into Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD, I lost interest.
Still, Stan Lee had a magnificent run. RIP, sir.
May his loss remind us all that great things can come from the mind of one, and inspiration may engage the world.
@Geoff King- I completely agree about sequelitis. Robert Downey Jr makes a fun Tony Stark, but I believe it was Iron Man 3 in which he had whole armies of autonomous robotic Iron Man warriors, which just turned the movie into dumb CGI overkill. Stan Lee made sure his stories stayed character focused. Hollywood would do well to remember that.
@M. Mitchell Marmel- I didn't get a handshake, but as a kid I had a letter published in "The Mighty Thor" which Stan answered.
@JC- Didn't you get the memo? No one is a bad person anymore (grin).
@REM1875- It's my love of old comics that makes me particularly intolerant of much of the crap out there today. And yes, there is sexual content WAY beyond what one used to find in Playboy.
@REM1875- By then, movies will be streamed directly to the chips in our brain. And they'll still stink.
@Regnad Kcin- Oh yeah, Sgt Fury and the Howling Commandos were always good fun. And though I wasn't overly into war comics, I'd devour anything illustrated by Jack Kirby or (on the DC side) Joe Kubert.
@Section147- I still haven't seen the most recent Avengers film, though vaguely expect to enjoy it. But it doesn't take much of an SJW reference in a film to really cheese me off. So to speak.
@Jim Irre- Ewe heard him!
@Uatu- At a tender age, I sold off almost all of my first editions (and hundreds of others) for a grand total of $300. I still get sick to my stomach when I think about it. And I'm not kidding.
@Rod- There was plenty of news worth talking about today, but damn it - I don't have many people I look up to, and I wasn't going to let Stan pass without saying so.
And yes, CIS-HET is the new term which has replaced "normal."
@OC- I didn't mean to skip Stan's military service, by any means. And I think his experience was reflected in his work.
@TrickyRicky- As the Hollies once sang, the Left is like "King Midas in Reverse."
@Spec-Ops Medic- Based on your username, I'd say you ARE a superhero! And while I'd hope that a new generation could take inspiration from those older comics, I'm skeptical. I'm afraid there's too big a gulf between those years and these. Damnit.
@Liberty Card- I liked Marvel and DC, though considered Marvel to be the better of the two. I agree that they did shade things differently, but in general I think most of Marvel's heroes stayed on the good side of the law.
@MAJ Arkay- I made the transition from SGT Fury to Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD successfully but eventually left the fold when the artwork of Jim Steranko (whom I really liked) just got TOO dang psychedelic. It was still impressive to look at, but broke the cinematic flow too much.
@Bob Singer- An excellent point. He made a difference in the world.
I too grew up in the 12c comic era. Bought my comics at the local Stop-n-Rob or bicycled for miles to see if another S-n-R had comics I had missed. Now they want Mint/Near Mint from that era, but we bought them off a magazine or comic rack for Gods sake! They were NOT placed tenderly onto the rack by store managers. But I didn't care. Wanted to read the next Jack Kirby chapter of Captain America or Mighty Thor. The art was so dynamic.Sad what has happened to our comics. Just sad. 'Nuff said.
Political correctness has utterly ruined entertainment. And those content producers who've surrendered to virtue signalling are being played for fools. No matter how many PC characters you create today, tomorrow you'll discover it's still not enough. The Norse god Thor a female? Soon "she'll" have to be a black female, then a black Muslim female, then a black Muslim transgender lesbian with chlamydia.
Captain America was a Nazi? Thor now has a vagina? Seriously?
I'd heard that the Obama-era comic world had gone all SJW. No doubt part of that "fundamental transformation" we were promised a decade ago. Also not surprised that this will ultimately kill the genre. After all, wasn't the whole point of superheros about being super? Instead, they've turned them all dysfunctional. Just proof that when you "get woke," you "go broke".
Progressives ruin everything they touch. Even superheros and comic books.
I was born a few years before The War and spent my youth trying to read every comic book I could lay my hands on (at 10 cents per). The colorful publications were a major influence on me until I discovered girls, after which time my admiration seemed to wane for Captain America, Plastic Man, Superman, and the biff-bop-bam superheroes who always came out on top in the fight the Japs and Germans.
Japanese soldiers were always depicted as having thick glasses and buck teeth, and nothing was said. Of course, nothing could be said by Japanese-Americans because by-and-large they had all been sent to internment camps, and there was no TV or internet to provide for any type of protest. Not a problem for us kids, however; promptly at 5:00 PM, I could live my dream with radio episodes of Straight Arrow, Sky King, Bobby Benson and the B-Bar-B riders, and decipher messages with my trusty Captain Midnight secret decoder ring while remaining in my dorm room at the now long-defunct San Rafael Military Academy.
I might have been suspicious of the relationship between Batman and Robin, but such things were never discussed with children by parents in the small California town where I was born and raised. Around 1950, the hero comic books began to be replaced by such nonsense as "Crime and Punishment," and "comics" that featured endless stories about ghosts and muddy lagoon-creatures crawling out of swamps.
No matter; I read them all and could have been considered an addict in a similar fashion as today's kids who can't seem to function without their constant eyeballing of an iPhone or iPad.
Captain America is a Nazi? I really HAVE been away too long.
That's a dead-on shame. Patriotism is NOT a code word for Fascism. I wish they'd create something themself, rather than piggyback on what WE made.
I don't get how any of these can be called "comic" books. My idea of comics are Donald Duck or Bugs Bunny, Uncle Scrooge, etc. I kinda liked Archie and Superman and Batman though. I guess I'm too old to get it.
All this talk of super hero's and in particular Thor reminded me of what I saw the other day in Walmart. Hallmark has their Christmas tree ornaments out and they have one of Thor. You know the Norse god of thunder. I guess nothing says the birth of Christ like a Norse god. I know I am being just a bit overly sensitive but really doesn't anyone think of these things before they market them?
I also remember a lot of the same comics as the rest of you and God I wish I still had some of them around because sometimes they were a pleasant escape from the real or imagined pains of the day. I will miss the thought of an artist like Stan being around.
This was mostly all news to me today, but then it's not really surprising.
Who would be MORE attracted to fantastic comics than a bunch of f-----g Democrats?
One small thing is clear: I'll not vote for another Democrat ever. And that could include some good people especially in local races. But if they're running as Democrats; they will not have not sufficiently separated themselves from all the others.
Lee was a rabid NY Leftist. He made the X Men to represent the gays and how they were so badly treated- boo hoo.
Heard a brief bio of him, during the war, he was in Signal Corps, among other things, he made training movies w/ F. Capra, and T. Geisel - aka, Dr. Seuss...
My misspent youth was not with comics but pulp "Men's" magazines. Oh, the stories they told to my wide eye wonder. Their renditions of the female was a sight to behold. In my entire life, I have never ran across one as portrayed with their drawings of a damsel in distress. Anyways, if you are not familiar with these, google pulp men's magazines. A sight to behold. Bravery beyond belief. Evil men holding maidens in bondage (I really couldn't blame them, wow!!) That lasted from about 10 to 12 when the real deal kicked in.
An excellent and well written tribute. Excelsior! I remember when I first discovered Stan Lee's Marvel. I was back in the sixties and I was about eleven years old in my Grandmother's house rummaging through my cousin's stuff (snooping where I shouldn't have) and I found this box of Marvel comics. The very first one I opened up to read was the Fantastic Four. I had never read or imagined such a comic, my favorite up until then was Space Family Robinson. I was lost for the rest of the day.
@Mudshark- Some of those old comics are available in eBook collections on Amazon. Sometimes even on sale! I've been enjoying some of those old titles recently. There's always room in my day for Jack "King" Kirby.
@Whoopie- I had to laugh about the black Muslim transgender lesbian with chlamydia superhero. I'm so nostalgic for the days when a superhero could change in a phone booth instead of an operating room.
@John the Econ- Wish I was making that crap up, but I wasn't. Happily, the marketplace is sorting it out. I'd rather see these characters gone rather than be debased.
@Alfonso Bedoya- What a pleasure to read your remarks! I enjoyed the nostalgia trip!
@Linda Fox- Sad to say that they DID declare Captain America to be a Nazi. And while I've enjoyed the Captain America movies, the actor who plays Cap has shot off his liberal mouth so often that it's hard for me to just watch the films. As you said, patriotism is not code for fascism. It's a shame that so many don't know that.
@Judi King- Carl Barks' "Uncle Scrooge" is considered to be a classic among comic connoisseurs, so there's nothing wrong with your taste.
@John Fernau- What have you got against Viking Christmas traditions? Have you never sung "Chestnuts Roasting on a Funeral Pyre?" Seriously, I agree with you. I understand that everything is product, product, product these days - but superhero ornaments are something of a new low.
And as I mentioned above, you can find some reasonably priced ebook collections of the old comics on Amazon. Turn your tablet into a time machine!
@Rod- I'm no Republican, but I'm with you: no vote for any Democrat ever again for any reason. You can't vote in a good one without empowering the horrible ones.
@Anonymous- I'm going to call "baloney" on that claim.
@Pete (Detroit)- I didn't know that about Lee, though I knew about Capra and Geisel making training films. Warner brothers did some great ones, too, which are available to watch or download for free at Archive.org.
@James Daily- I'm a great fan of pulp magazine art, and some of the best comes from those manly Men's magazines. A scantily clad dame being protected from a cannibal tribe by a bloodied but still-punching hero? THAT, my friend, is art.
@SFCGator b- Yeah, The Fantastic Four was always the jewel in the crown. Odd that Hollywood has been completely unable to make a decent film out of such a great property. And I liked the Space Family Robinson comics, too!
The "Coffee Spew Award of the Day" goes to "I'm so nostalgic for the days when a superhero could change in a phone booth instead of an operating room." Congratulations.
Speaking of anti-heroes of the left:
"Any accusations... are fabricated and meant to do harm to my reputation."
Brett Kavanaugh? Nope. Kavanaugh accuser, the Creepy Porn Lawyer Michael Avanatti, who was arrested yesterday on domestic abuse charges. Will his accuser get the respect that Kavanaugh's accusers did by the "believe all women" left? Tune in tomorrow, same bat time, same bat channel.
Once again, my favorite aspect of the Trump era is the rapidity in which karma swings back at Progressives.
Now, if only Marvel would finally go bankrupt so that their assets could be sold to people who can tell worthwhile stories...
Luke Uncaged as a black Muslim transgender plus-size bi/lesbian with chlamydia superhero who has a romantic connection with THOR and Black Panther ... and introducing SNOW LEOPARD... ASIAN transgen sometimes love interest of Black Panther/THOR/ BLACK WIDOW/Vision/Aunt May and Spidey.
Secret ID as a Democrat Far Left Socialist SJW female US Senator...storyline is basically a yearlong "date night" interrupted by crime emergencies.
The time is right to bring back Gilbert Shelton's WONDER WARTHOG!
@Gee M: CLANG! HONK! TWEET! ;)
@ Anonymous Philbert Desanex
I'm searching for my favorite episode where WW and Lois Lamebrain do the deed, and he shoots her completely across town.
It's been 50 years , I rely on fuzzy memory...very fuzzy.
My main screen name online is "Philbert"...
I'm partial to the Indy 500 story...
"He pulled away from me so fast I thought my car stopped and I got out to see what was wrong!"
Unlike previous superheroes, those written by Stan Lee had greater complexity, insecurities, and identifiable problems which superpowers alone couldn't solve.
Maybe some commenter's already said this, but, it's not just that superpowers couldn't solve their problems, their powers were frequently the very *source* of their great conflicts.
My own take, if I may link
Stanley Lieber Changed the World
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