We’ve lost comics giant Stan Lee.
I’ve been waiting on this sad news for a while now, but it still doesn’t make it any easier. Reading the posts all over Facebook today has saddened me on a level that I wasn’t quite ready for, even though the news wasn’t totally unexpected. After all, Stan was 95, hadn’t been well for a while, and had been having a rough time since his wife died a couple of years ago. But it’s still hit me hard on an emotional level that I wasn’t expecting. I am almost 58 years old, after all, and I’ve supposedly long since ‘grown out of’ mainstream superhero comics many years ago (still love the old Silver and Bronze Age comics, though, for the sheer nostalgia). So why has the not-unexpected death of an old comics guy hit me so hard?
When looking back at my childhood, it’s obvious just how much of a towering giant Stan Lee was in my life. I discovered the first of the Marvel UK titles at the end of 1972, just before my 12th birthday, when I found the Mighty World of Marvel issue No.6 in a local shop. I was hooked immediately, and sent off the princely sum of 50p (yes, half of one pound) for the first five back issues. That was 25p for the five comics, and 25p for the postage. Unbelievable what you could get for your money back then! It was like a dozen Christmases rolled into one when that package came in the post.
I was already a Marvel addict, and collected every single issue of MWOM, and later Spider-Man Comics Weekly, the Avengers, Conan the Barbarian, and whatever other weekly comics that Marvel UK threw at us. Also, around 1974 or so, I started buying a large number of the then-current Bronze Age US Marvel titles via mail order from specialist UK comics dealers. From the moment that I bought my first issue of MWOM, Stan Lee and his stable of Comics Titans had a HUGE influence on my young life, from that point onwards at the very start of my teens, all the way through the 70s, into the 80s and beyond. For the first half of my life, I was a total Marvel Junkie.
Even now, in late middle age, the memories and the nostalgia of those early years are incredibly important to me. My love of comics (particularly Marvel Comics), SF/sci-fi and music have always been a foundation and fundamental part of who and what I am. I wouldn’t be me without them. I can’t even begin to guess how much of an influence Stan and the rest of the guys at Marvel Comics have had on my life. The passing of Stan Lee is yet another great figure from my childhood now passed beyond the Rim, another part of my past gone. So it saddens me at the deepest level.
I’m sitting here with a big lump in my throat and tears in my eyes right now. RIP Stan ‘The Man’ Lee. You lived long and hard, and brought joy to countless millions. You will be missed. 😦