On the 14th of November the world lost a visionary in Stan Lee, who leaves behind a legacy of stories, characters but most importantly the gift of imagination.
As the wave of tributes and outpouring of love flow in, I thought it appropriate to add my small reflection to the millions of others on how this New York writers gift reached across globe and shaped the life of a man from Sydney.
I, like many nerds before me, have always gravitated towards stories of the spectacular, reading about men who crawled on walls like spiders or superhuman beings with uncanny mutations and abilities. These were what captured my attention as a boy and a teen, and still captures it today in my adulthood.
The comic-book technology changed and we changed with it, with the medium moving from the pages of a book onto moving images on our televisions. I spent most mornings watching Spider-Man: The Animated Series on free to air tv every morning before school, along with the X-Men series of the same kin.
At first these stories captivated me with their acrobatic action, other-worldly villains and explosive powers but I was sure that this was just a phase that I would grow out of (or at least that’s what society was telling me). Instead of becoming more distant, my love affair for these worlds grew stronger.
Of course it was never deemed ‘cool’ to be a nerd of comics back then but I found a loyal band of misfits who shared my passion and together we would amass our collective knowledge, basking in the warmth of these marvellous creations and birthing our own ideas on how to progress these heroes.
It was upon this reflection of my own experience that the epiphany of Stan Lee’s greatness came over me swiftly - not only was it his creations that began my love of comics (and all nerd things) but it was his imagination that inspired my own, he was the spark which started the fire; like Robin Williams in ‘Dead Poets Society’, Stan Lee was the captain to an entirely new culture, shifting our perspective about what could be through the power of imagination.
His characters brought (and still bring) people together, allowing them to feel included in something beyond themselves and share in the joy of fandom. This is the greatest gift any of us wish to achieve, to leave behind a legacy of unity, respect and happiness.
As I sit here writing this, it does sadden me that I will never be able to thank the man who gave me (and us all) one of the most extraordinary parts of my life but I smile and take solace while watching my son jump around my living room, pretending to shoot webs from his hands, that his awe-inspiring gift will continue to flourish for many more generations to come.
Thank you Stan Lee.