There’s not a lot that can be said about Stan Lee that’s not already been said. Writer, editor, cheerleader, industry mascot, take your pick, they all fit him, no one will argue over what you choose to call him. All that should be remembered is Stan’s collaborations with some of the greatest artists of the time led to many happy memories for readers, and to a later extent, viewers of this vibrant and energetic universe he helped usher into the world.
My first encounter with Stan Lee wasn’t a comic book, it was through television when he was the narrator on the animated The Incredible Hulk (1982).
Lee would introduce the episodes with his usual upbeat, energetic style and offer narrative comment throughout the show. It was enough to have me hooked and I haven’t looked back since.
From those early days watching that show I went on to develop a deep love of comic books and came to learn more about the man behind the voice. His work with Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby, John Romita, and many others, filled me with a sense of wonder and excitement I’m truly thankful for. Of course, you’ll have many people argue that Stan wasn’t solely responsible for this creation or that creation, but it doesn’t matter. Comic books, and the whole pop culture industry in general wouldn’t be where it is today were it not for his tireless work in promoting the medium, and later, the brand of Marvel.
Most people remember Stan now for his cameos in the Marvel movies or he’s listed as the creator of someone or other, but that’s not how I remember him, to me, he was the voice of my childhood introducing one of my favourite cartoons.
In the U.K., it was popular for the American comic books to be reprinted in oversized format for the magazine market, and that’s where I first touched comic books. My first official Marvel comic was a Spider-Man and Hulk Christmas annual. The Spidey stories were Ditkos and the Hulk belonged to Kirby, but there was one name in the front, a signature if I remember rightly, and that name was Stan Lee. My young brain linked it to the cartoon and slowly the connections built. Then the internet comes along and you find out more and more about this guy, but with him comes the creative politics of the comic book scene and who was responsible for creating what, but that’s a story for another time. Not here.
To Stan, I raise a glass. Excelsior.