I never wanted to be Spier-Man or Thor or the Silver Surfer or Conan (though Conan was tempting) or any other comic book character when I was a kid, I wanted to be a comic book writer.
My parents didn’t like me collecting comic books and often told me to spend more time reading “real books.” They didn’t understand that comic books combine literature and art in a unique way you can’t find in a museum or in a library. Only film and TV come close to this wedding of the visual and language to create story.
Comics taught me to love literature and to love art (especially illustrative art), but not in a status way – comics were anti-snobbery, they were sheer love of story-telling in its rawest form and had no time for or use for “high literature” that was written only for the hyper-educated so they could lord their superior intelligence over lesser mortals. Comics were entirely American in that way, too: Written for the prols, the mob, the little guy, the kids, written without an ulterior motive, written without the writer drooling after the applause of his social superiors.
And Marvel was always the best. In my entire collection (and it was pretty big when I was a kid) there are only a few non-Marvel titles: Marvel knew how to tell stories. My first writing ambition – may first ambition at all – was to be a comic book writer.
And through all that, this one name ghosted like a great mentor, like an ancestor God looking over us all, Stan Lee. His invention, his humanity, his humor, all that h gifted us through his comics, reading Stan Lee was like channeling Stan Lee, sucking in his spirit through the comic as through a straw.
I’m glad he lived to see a new heyday of his creations in the movies and games. Back then I would read these comics and run off to the movies and think: Boy, wouldn’t it be great if these stories could be turned into movies that almost looked real? I hated all the movies and TV adaptations back then – the Hulk series, Spiderman as an animated series, Schwarzenegger’s Conan – I felt they were all half-assed, no one took the stories seriously, they didn’t come close to the comics. Now that time has come and I am glad Stan Lee lived to see his visions come to life in such a spectacular way.
Excelsior, old friend.
The New York Times: Stan Lee Is Dead at 95; Superhero of Marvel Comics
Eric T. Hansen is American author, journalist and satirist, who lives in Germany and today in Berlin for over 20 years. His books: Planet Germany. Eine Expedition in die Heimat des Hawaii-Toasts) oder Die ängstliche Supermacht: Warum Deutschland endlich erwachsen werden muss. Eric T. Hansen The Hula Ink Blog.
In german: Mr. Lee und ich