As news of Stan Lee’s death broke this week (see “RIP Stan Lee, At 95”), the comics community and the world mourned the loss of the man who helped create some of the biggest characters on the comics page and beyond.
The New York Times dedicated space on the front page and most of an interior spread to the man who “spun tales of great power,” including images of many of the characters he co-created with artists such as Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko. The New York Times doesn’t often give so many column inches to a remembrance, but as Jonathan Kandell and Andy Webster write, Lee “was for many the embodiment of Marvel, if not comic books in general, overseeing the company’s emergence as an international media behemoth.”The New York Times website, Brian Michael Bendis used a five-page comic to share the tale of his encounters with Stan “The Man” Lee. “My Moments With Stan,” which is illustrated by Bill Walko and colored by Howie Noel, spans Bendis’s somewhat embarrassing childhood encounter with Mr. Lee to a lunch meeting in 2014, during which Mr. Lee spoke frankly about his poor eyesight and hearing, but neither hindered his enthusiasm for creating comics.
Peter David also wrote about his encounters with Mr. Lee for Vulture. David wrote of Mr. Lee’s famously terrible memory, noting that he introduced himself to Mr. Lee four times before Mr. Lee finally recalled his name on the fifth encounter. “My breath was taken away.” Peter writes of the meeting, conveying the esteem that many held for Mr. Lee. “I was stunned. Stan Lee remembered me. That was it. I had now fully arrived in the world of comic books.” David also spoke to the ways in which Lee helped humanize superheroes, letting them squabble, have issues, and otherwise express imperfections otherwise ignored on the comics page.
Mark Millar took to Twitter to talk about how Mr. Lee changed his life, first introducing Millar to the idea that he could help create superheroes and then encouraging him to expand beyond writing for existing characters into creating his own worlds. “Without Stan's advice, I'd never have written Wanted, Kick-Ass, Kingsman or all my other franchises,” Millar tweeted. “There would have been no big Netflix deal last year. Without his stories when I was wee I doubt I'd have even picked up a pen.”The Hollywood Reporter. But Mr. Lee was still enthusiastic about one thing according to Thomas. “But he was still talking about doing more cameos. As long as he had the energy for it and didn't have to travel, Stan was always up to do some more cameos. He got a kick out of those more than anything else.”
Fan tributes have been widespread, from photos with Mr. Lee to anecdotes about meeting The Man to artwork celebrating his contributions to comics. One fan tribute in particular stood out. Artist Bosslogic (Kode LGX) shared a heartrending piece of art in remembrance of Mr. Lee on Instagram. “You were one of the people in this world that gave us the fuel to dream about being heroes, creating heroes and being inspired by heroes,” he writes in the caption to the piece.
There’s an obvious commonality to these posts about Mr. Lee: everyone was a fan of him and the characters he helped usher into the world, even creators like Bendis, David, and Millar. And while there’s little comfort to be had right now, Mr. Lee’s own words might provide it. “I realize it’s so lucky to have fans, fans who really care about you,” Mr. Lee said in a video shared on his official Twitter account. “And that’s the reason I care about the fans. Because they make me feel so great.”