I just saw the news about the death of comic book mogul Stan Lee. I don’t know much about Stan Lee the man, but I do know something about the characters and worlds he created within Marvel comics. Lee’s stories and characters were a big part of my childhood. He didn’t create stereotypical superheroes. He humanized them in ways that a kid like me could relate to. The New York Times describes his work this way:
Under Mr. Lee, Marvel revolutionized the comic book world by imbuing its characters with the self-doubts and neuroses of average people, as well an awareness of trends and social causes and, often, a sense of humor.
In humanizing his heroes, giving them character flaws and insecurities that belied their supernatural strengths, Mr. Lee tried “to make them real flesh-and-blood characters with personality,” he told The Washington Post in 1992.
“That’s what any story should have, but comics didn’t have until that point,” he said. “They were all cardboard figures.”
This is absolutely correct, and it is why Lee’s signature character Spider-Man captured my imagination when I was in the fourth grade. Continue Reading →