STAN "THE MAN" LEE
The universe went a bit darker this week. Stanley Martin Lieber--better known to the world (not just the comic book world!) as Stan Lee--went to his maker. I suppose God needed him more we did.
But, boy, will he be missed!
Except for my parents and my maternal grandmother, no one had a greater impact on my life than Stan Lee. I never had the privilege of meeting the man, the myth, the legend and never worked for him (even though I did have a writing tryout with Marvel when I was a wet-behind-the-ears twenty-something), but his presence has permeated my life for more than a half-century.
He's the reason I wanted to become a writer, specifically a comic book writer. All his scripts, all the incredible characters he created (and co-created with his brother Larry, with Jack Kirby, with Steve Ditko) were so vitally important to me growing up. He saw comic book super-heroes (I recall he liked to call them "long-underwear characters") as real people, with real problems and foibles. What he was really saying, I believe, was that anyone could be a super-hero.
But he was the true super-hero. To so many young kids like me in the '60s and '70s.
First came The Fantastic Four, then Spider-Man, then The Hulk and Ant-Man and Iron Man and Thor. Quick on their heels were The X-Men and The Avengers. The ideas never stopped. The imagination never wavered. The man spoke to our souls.
His ever-popular Bullpen Bulletin column that ran faithfully in all his comics for years is the inspiration for this Hyper Space column you're reading now. Without Stan and his uncanny ability to reach out to his readers and make them care, this column and perhaps Hyper Epics itself would not exist.
His legacy is indelibly stamped in the fabric of popular fiction. His characters have thrilled millions on the Silver Screen--from Iron Man to Captain America to Thor to Spidey and the Black Panther. I'm so grateful he lived to see his creations in all their Hollywood glory.
But I feel cheated that the world will never experience his 100th birthday party. What a bash that would have been!
I read once that when mankind finally travels to the far reaches of the known universe (sounds like a classic cosmic Lee script!) that we will find the signature of Jack "The King" Kirby in the lower right-hand corner. Kirby was the consummate comic book artist and as legendary as The Man himself. The pair collaborated on more comic books that anyone could count.
But, I really believe that if Kirby's signature is in that corner of the universe, Stan's name would have to be there as well. Just a little bit higher.
Thomas A. Tuna