The Man passed today.
I’m the “Comic Book Guy” for my group of friends, so naturally people have been reaching out to me to commiserate, as if I lost a member of my family.
They asked why they feel so sad right now, even if they never met him.
Stan Lee’s loss is not a sad occasion. The Man lived a long and influential life. Whether you think he created the greatest superheroes, or was the pitchman that made the creations of others become household names, he shaped our childhoods. So no, he’s not family, but we all met him.
Every character he made a mark on, from being the first to have Captain America throw his shield to putting words in Uncle Ben’s mouth, became the foundations of our collective youth. Every time he cameoed on film, from the Hulk’s TV show to Eric Robert’s vehicle Ambulance to the expected cameos in the MCU (many of which have already been filmed), the audience smiled.
Stan Lee lived an uncanny life.
And he touched my life.
Back when when I was a reporter, I used the opportunity to interview Stan for the local paper. The phone interview was very nice (he was as gregarious as he seemed), and afterwards I did something totally unprofessional: I asked for a favor.
I figured I would never work with him in comics, so I’d never get a cool official Stan Lee nickname like Roy “The Boy” Thomas or Jack “The King” Kirby, so I asked him what he would name me, if we had worked together. He actually gave me some answers (and not the obvious “Kevin from Heaven” stuff), so I typed ’em in my notes.
Shortly afterward, the office updated their computer system and all my old notes were lost. I was crestfallen. Convinced I would never find (or remember) the nicknames again, I decided someday I’d have to think up another excuse to interview Stan Lee, and ask the same question again.
It turned out Stan Lee kept track of the names for me. Fellow Marvel Handbook-writer Rob London found Stan’s responses to me in the edition of “Stan’s Soapbox” that ran in 1999’s Spider-Woman #1 (and other issues from that same month).
Stan was amazing.