Born on December 28th, 1922 in Manhattan New York City, NY USA, Stanley Martin Leiber (better known to the world as the beloved Stan Lee) created a world where fantasy and superheroes became real to all of us. He was the primary creative leader for two decades within the family business, Marvel Comics, and made his name legendary to any and all who found their dreams between the pages of a comic book and more recently the movie screen. He led the way in re-evaluating the technique of a more naturalistic creative approach to comic writing and even went so far as to indirectly challenging and changing the Comics Code Authority.
Mr. Leiber (Lee) was an icon in his own right, telling and illustrating tales we could all somehow relate to, finding the hero in all of us. He was awarded the Nation Medal of Arts in 2008 and prior to that was inducted into the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1995 and the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame in 1994.
There is so much that could be said about this man and his influential life, but I want to move away from the things you can find repeated all over the internet. I want to delve a bit more into why his art and creations meant so much to all of us.
I think childhood heroes and experiences can shape and mold us – and sometimes we seek out the alternative to our reality, which often can be bleak or maybe dull, even traumatic for many – and find a place where our mind can touch a bit of magic and fantasy. Imagination in the young is vital and it seems like society nowadays wants to choke that out of them completely through early programming and the push for societal normalcy and conformity.
Yet, we all have those moments or platforms that we can bend our ear (and eyes) to that has saved us from drowning in those oceans. And I think Stan Lee was one of those platforms – a hero to many a child at heart.
He showed us a world where the impossible was possible. Where dreams didn’t just have to stay dreams and where things like truth and justice prevailed. He created places where the battle of good vs evil came to life before our very eyes, touching deeply the hope in all of us that things in our own world could be different.
He told stories about superhumans and superpowers in a way to make us see that there is still a place for the imagination in this world. And while maybe there isn’t such a thing as a man that rockets between buildings shooting spider webs from his wrists or a girl that can become invisible at the touch of a hat, I still think that these stories hold vital truths for us all.
Stan Lee passed away from this world on November 12, 2018, and I think that some of the light in this world left with him. I know he will be sorely missed by many of us. We will cling tight to his creations, quieting our grief with the knowledge that he lived his life leaving something behind – we can see in him a real-life hero that brought conformity to its knees for an all too brief moment in time.
RIP Mr. Stan Lee – and thank you for showing the rest of us that we don’t have to give up on our dreams, and that imagination is alive and well in all of us … we just need to let it shine a bit more now that you’re gone.