Belated birthday wishes to Stan Lee who turned 90 yesterday. Stan Lee is one of my personal heroes and I wish him continued health and happiness and many more birthdays to come.
Like many of my generation, I first encountered Stan in the pages of Marvel Comics in the 1960s. His effusive, bombastic style really connected with me (and millions of other readers). Stan always made it seem like he was speaking directly to the reader, like he was letting us in on something special that he had created just for us. He was a genius at creating troubled protagonists, angst-ridden superheroes with personal problems every bit as compelling and dramatic as that issues' battle with a given super villain. Lee's writing was over-the-top at times and his stories often resembled soap operas with an A-plot line running on top and a B-plot line simmering on the bottom for a couple of issues before becoming the next A-plot with a new B-plot taking its' place. His continued stories assured that we would have to buy the next issue to find out what happened next and you can bet that we did.
Stan was also smart enough to surround himself with top notch artistic, creative talent and the early Marvel bullpen featured such stalwarts as Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Don Heck, Dick Ayers, Gene Colan, John Buscema and John Romita (among others). I'm not going to go into who created what and where proper credit is due except to say that Stan had a hand in every Marvel comic book for a number of years as either the writer, editor, writer/editor and finally, publisher.
I adored Stan Lee when I was young. He made me want to become a comic book writer. I never accomplished that goal but he provided me with untold hours of entertainment and escapist pleasure. My brother used to pester me about reading comic books when I was young. He thought they were a waste of time and he used to really get under my skin by telling me that "there is no Stan Lee. That's just a made-up name."
I knew better. Each issue listed the creator credits and there was Stan's name in every issue. Eventually photos of Stan and all of the other Marvel bullpenners ran in a Marvel comic and I had even more proof of his existence as a real-live flesh and blood person. Now, thanks to his cameos in the Marvel movies and other appearances over the years, EVERYONE knows who Stan is, even people who have never read a comic book in their life. My lovely wife Judy (who shares a birth date with Stan), knows who he is and she knows he means as much to me now as he did almost fifty years ago.
'Nuff said and Excelsior!