Growing up there wasn’t a lot of money for entertainment. My biggest outlet was my library card, and it took me to many magical places. Places I still and will always remember. On rare occasions there were a few dollars here and there for comic books. I would clutch my wrinkled dollar bills and stand in front of the tall metal carousel at the drugstore, spinning it endlessly, trying to choose just one story from among the many. It was never an easy choice, but that is where I first made the acquaintance of Mr. Stan Lee.
Not directly, he didn’t make cameo appearances in small town drugstores. No, I met him through Thor, the Fantastic Four, Spiderman, Iron Man and Captain America. I was such a geek that when I saw the name “Jocasta” on the memory stick, when Jarvis morphed into Vision and Tony Stark was choosing a new assistant, I literally bounced in my seat with excitement. I had it bad. I still do.
That’s the power of good storytelling. That’s the power of art. It resonates, and you remember. The feelings of anticipation and excitement, of being invested in what is happening, and in finding yourself in the story.
I spent many happy afternoons being a part of Stan Lee’s world. I never got the chance to tell him personally, but maybe that’s best. Instead, I use my own stories to do him honor, and hope that I reach someone the way he reached me.
We don’t get to stay here. We pretend that’s not true. We diet and exercise and slather ourselves with the latest miracle treatments, but no matter what we do, we don’t get to stay. The best we can hope for is to make a difference. It doesn’t have to be the big kind of difference like Stan Lee made, inspiring and entertaining millions. It can be the difference we make to just one person, but that difference is our only true legacy here in this place.
Stan Lee’s imagination was a springboard for millions of creators that came after. Countless graphic artists, writers, actors, producers, and fans all owe some small debt to the inspiration he provided us. His passing is sad day for me, but I feel so grateful that I had a chance to be a part of his world, and for the positive influence those times had on me.
Thank you, Stan. I hope wherever you’re going next you still get to make beautiful things, and share them with those around you.