3 Things I learnt from Stan Lee

On the 12th of November 2018 we lost a legend in Stanley Martin Lieber (1922 – 2018), at the age of 95.  His first big break was found in authoring a two-page Captain America Issue 5, published in 1941, where before he started his career in 1939 as a 17-year-old errand boy at Timely Comics.

Known for his amazing work in the comic book industry, Stan Lee inspired millions of people around the world with his storytelling.  As a fan, and a person, it is hard to lose a goliath in the media industry – but I did learn a couple of things from the man, the legend, Stan Lee.

  1. Go against the grain

When Stan contributed to the creation of some of our most popular comic book characters, they were all pretty much based on doing something that other people weren’t.  An example is Spider-Man, an idea about a superhero teen with a ton of personal problems from being an orphan to the weight of being a superhero while trying to balance being a goof at love and not bringing harm to those closest to him.  An idea, which by the way, his boss hated. And said would never work.  An idea much like The Incredible Hulk, whom Stan felt was close to the story of Quasimodo, in that people wanted to cheer for the monster.  Something as simple as creating the Human Torch, Johnny Blaze, but giving him a sister in Susan (the Invisible Woman).  (Another odd fact is Stan created the ‘Thought Bubble’ to show that superheroes had inner feelings!)

Simple ideas maybe, but all against the grain of what was already working, and others said should stay the way they were, so that they could keep on working.

To quote Shuri from Black Panther “Just because something works, doesn’t mean it can’t be improved on”.

  1. Be an advocate for every part of your passion

You could say that when you look up Marvel in the dictionary, a picture of Stan Lee’s face will pop up.  But even though all things Marvel are associated with Stan, you will find Stan loved everything about his passion – the comic book and fiction industry.  As a sidebar fact, Stan’s boss told him to throw his Superman comics away, as they would be worth nothing one day.  Stan pushed everything, and that included his ‘competitors’.  From Superman to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, it’s refreshing to see someone put their ego aside and support everything about the industry they contribute to and love so much.

  1. Live like you’re going to die young

Stan said that his mother believing in him, gave him all the confidence in the world.  (In fact, another random fact, she believed he would be president one day, and he felt that he was a bit of a disappointment working in the comic book industry).  But that changed quickly.  Living a full 95 years, Stan, married the girl of his dreams Joan Clayton Boocock (of which he did so only after a couple of dates in), served in the army and amongst many awards, won the National Medal of Arts, was inducted into the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame, has his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, was the winner of the Vanguard Award, a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Visual Effects Society, and was named a Disney Legend.  He said ‘yes’ to following his dream, and he made it all happen, all the time.  He took every opportunity to live his life for the better.

Stan, you will be missed. Excelsior!

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