An Appreciation: Stan Lee Would Have Been 96 Today. He Was Responsible for Some of the Most Rewarding Relationships of my Life.

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This one still hits hard, folks, as Stan represented to me both artistic inspiration, and a very happy childhood. The best of all worlds. Today is December 28, 2018. Stan passed on November 12, just under a month and a half ago. What follows is a revisit of my Facebook remembrance, posted on the day of his death ...

I started collecting Marvels when I was 6.

When I turned 7, and my family moved from New York to Colorado, my Brooklyn “Bubbe” used to send me and my brothers Marvel comics in the mail. I was prickish. I always took the best ones.

You see, we moved so I could get rid of my asthma. My family sacrificed everything to make me healthy again. Part of my ”treatment” included diligently reading Marvel Comics. I would devour the adventures of Marvel’s relatable heroes, many conceived or co-created by Stan, build myself up with a strict exercise regiman and follow their examples.

When we moved back to New York at 11, I began seriously collecting. Boxes, plastics, boards, the whole shmear.

At 13 or so, I attended comic cons with my dad and my cousin, Randy. Or, with my bud Jay and his dad.

I met Stan “The Man” for the first time at 15, and let him know how much he meant to me.

My cousin and I began trading. Jay and I began trading.

At one point, I had over 30,000 comic books in my collection. Three-quarters of those were Marvels.

I began selling at conventions at 20. I had again met Stan — and hung out with Jack Kirby — on more than a few occasions at those conventions.

I collected throughout college. Stopped when I was 30. Started again at 35. Stopped at 36 when I met my future wife. Began again — but digitally — at 50.

Saw Stan for the first time in many years at a Book Expo signing. He signed my paperback first printing of “Origins of Marvel Comics.” But something interesting happened. He didn’t like the signature. He had security stop the line for a minute until he found another pen. He found another pen, and signed a second signature just below the first one. “I hope you’re happy now,” he said, smiling. Those in earshot laughed. He stood up, hugged me and thanked me.

“You’ve supported me since you were yay high,” he said. “Thank you.” I had no idea — still don’t — if he was just being polite, or he remembered. No matter, I had bragging rights.

Today …

I argue all the time with all my nephews about the worth of certain Marvel films. Ethan, particularly, has become an addict of all things Marvel.

He’s barely ten, and a chip off the old uncle.

I look back and see I’ve made some amazing friends over the years spawned by our mutual love of Marvel Comics.

All these years later, our Fearless Leader is now gone and we’re gonna be talking about him more than ever over the next few months, years …

His legacy is right there with Walt Disney’s.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t note this. His battles with Jack Kirby were unfortunate … and unfortunately not all that rare in similar partnerships. Time softened those conflicts a bit. Not entirely. But a bit. Regardless, they were indeed sad, and yet we would not care if these men — both now, gone — didn’t mean as much to us as they do.

How many careers has Mr. Lee inspired? How many lives have his worked shaped? What will remain his ultimate legacy?

Stan, you really were “The Man.” You’ve raised generations upon generations of children and adult children. I’ve been very close to my family and friends in large part due to your efforts.

Collaborators have done amazing things with the work Jack and now you have left behind.

Thank you.

Excelsior.

Joel Eisenberg is an award-winning author, screenwriter, and producer. The Oscar in the profile pic isn’t his but he’s scheming. WGA and Pen America member.

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