This week started out with a very sad loss and one I couldn’t let pass without mentioning or at least saying something about. We lost the great, universe creating and genre defining, literally, Stan “The Man” Lee. While of course a lot has been said about the man since his passing, which as ever has been a mix of positive and negative an inevitable in the condensing of a life to a single printed page at most especially one as long as his. I’m sure only more will continue to be published and circulated but no matter what Lee’s passion and influence on an entire genre, a form, an industry cannot be denied. Especially now in the modern world where many of his creations and co-creations rule supreme not only on the printed page but on the small and large screens. Sadly I was never afforded an opportunity to meet the man and yet his impact on my life, personally, has been incredible and is immeasurable. Not just for gifting us the likes of his boy Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four and countless others but for his grace, his love and passion for the industry, for his fans, for the true believers.
Stan revitalised a flagging industry and in the process crafted himself in to the all-mighty-rock-n-roll godfather of it. He was a man that understood his fans were the lifeblood of what he did and he treated them with all the compassion and respect they deserved. Stan had this sense of reachability long before social media upped the game. Even as a young boy I knew when I was reading Stan or hearing Stan, he had a voice so clear and distinct you felt like he was right there with you, talking to you. At a young age I remember loaning out How to Draw the Marvel Way by Stan with John Buscema from the local library. It was a book that literally felt like a private tutorial in the presence of the great men themselves all thanks to Stans jovial and humorous writing. From commenting on how great Buscema’s work was to on how he shouldn’t really tell you this but… he gave you all the tricks of the trade. Unafraid of sharing his success, of imparting wisdoms, he wanted the next generation of artists, writers, colourists, letterers, inkers, editors not to be just as good as him or his fellow compadres but better. Stan, Buscema, Ditko, Kirby and so many others inspired me at first to draw and would have me hunched over my desk drawing away before the writing bug fully took hold! I could go on and on about how these figures inspired me and continue to inspire me, I would love to meet them all but I know the likelihood is I won’t, I wouldn’t want anything other than the opportunity to say thank you.
Of late a lot has been said concerning the way we address celebrity and artists deaths. Of the insincerity, the defensiveness of other fans, how mournful we can feel, the sense of acting like you have known the person. What stands above this all though is how impactful such a death can be, it is completely different to losing a family member and yet at the same time its just as raw and familiar. In a sense we barely know these people having only listened to or read or watched their work and yet through only a single listening or viewing or reading we feel like we know them. They have offered up a piece of themselves no matter how fictitious or fantastical it still contains a piece of them. Now more than ever though we feel an even greater connection thanks to social media and the instant connectivity with it and others. With our range of influences broadening so does the possibility for the unknown to make an impact upon you. Outside of the obvious it is impossible to count the number of persons or people or things that have had an impact or an influence on your life but if you thought about it and tried to take stock of all those people, all those musicians, poets, artists, writers, actors, speakers, politicians, whoever they are whatever they are the number would be staggering. It’s a number you would never be able to meet to say thank to no matter how hard you tried because we are constantly being inspired and inspiring others. All we can do is remember them and know in our hearts what they mean to us. To hold your worn, dog eared copy of the Amazing Spider-Man number whatever and say a little thank you to those that inspire.