“keep moving forward, and if it’s time to go, it’s time”

13 Nov

So yesterday, we lost Stan Lee.

We all know who he is (well, I hope we do, if you’re reading this): the guy who had a hand, along with other prolific storytellers like Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, in creating so many of the iconic superhero characters we see today pretty much everywhere – movie posters, lunchboxes, t-shirts, all over the walls of my office – but probably more importantly, he was the tireless pitchman, using his iconic voice and bombast to become the face of Marvel comics and the Marvel Universe (even if his love of the spotlight sometimes irked his other, more introverted co-creators), becoming a hero himself to so many of us; giving us, the often disaffected, socially awkward youth someone to look up to, who made us feel like part of the exclusive cool kids’ club.

I could repeat all the stuff you’ll read in the obituary pieces that are everywhere today, but I won’t, beyond what I’ve written above, though Stan’s passing, as expected as it was (he hasn’t been in good health the last few years), still feels personal, to me, and to so many of us. Stan gave me Spider-Man to read when I was a youngster (and who I still revisit today), he gave me Doctor Strange, who’s psychadelic adventures (so vividly illustrated by Ditko) captivated me. He was the face of the company that published the 80s GI:JOE comics Larry Hama wrote that got me into comics collecting and culture, visiting with me and thousands of other readers every month in the “Stan’s Soapbox” column in Marvel’s Bullpen Bulletins in each issue. He made us feel welcome and appreciated; he gave us a place and a community, and made it feel, on some level, like he was speaking to us personally.

I never got to meet Stan. I saw him from afar once or twice; we’d been guests at the same conventions a couple of times in the last few years (not that the “Chuck Parker, convention guest” experience even slightly compares to that of “Stan Lee, Convention Guest”!); As most con performers, my time is often spoken for for most of an event, certainly not leaving me enough time to stand in line for a couple of hours to get a few seconds interaction and an autograph, though if I had run into him and had a chance to speak to him for a while, my story wouldn’t be much different than that of so many other friends, acquantances, and fellow nerds who have gotten that opportunity over the years…

I’d just say “Thank You.”

‘Nuff Said.

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