Stan Lee, RIP

So Stan Lee died. Over the last ten years or so there’s been a lot of animosity about him having stolen more credit than he deserved; but in general I’ve always kinda sided that his position as editor, publisher, & curator as well as writer/co-creator of the characters made his side of the argument sensible.
But the thing that really makes him interesting to me is if you look at the story of his creativity, it seems he spent his time from age 17-39 hacking away in the comic industry learning his craft & gaining competence at it & exploded on the scene in 1962 with 10 years as one of the hardest working creatives with writing credit on around 600 comics during that period & since then I’d guess he has “only done” 100 comics while spending a lot of time as curator/ambassador/exploiter of his work & the comics medium in general.
I was born in 1975, so by the time I could read Stan Lee was long retired & just a legend & I’m not sure I actually read anything from his classic era until I was in my 30s & read the first 25 issues of The Avengers. I was shocked by the quality & how much I could relate to Captain America (a character I assumed represented everything dumb about America) as a guy feeling isolated & alone in a world that no longer needed him going on quasi-suicidal quests to defeat evil. A broken hero, which I guess is what Stan Lee made popular in the 1960s with Spider-Man & The Hulk & The Fantastic Four & the rest of the Marvel pantheon that have generally been watered down over the decades since Stan let them be taken over by other creators & compromised to be more marketable for kids’ cartoons. So go back & read some of his work. I have a couple of romance comics he did during the 1950s in my reading stack & I hope they’re just as great as the stuff he was doing with super heroes in the 1960s.
So thanks Stan, not just for creating a beloved world of characters that may last as long as Shakespeare’s, but also for letting us know that you can hit your creative peak in your 40s & when you want to walk away from it, that that’s okay too.

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