Observations of life by author and poet Charles L. Chatmon
It happened so fast. I sat on a cement block close to the apartment my grandmother used to live in holding something in my hand. The contents inside held my interest. The attraction of the cover prompted me to open to the illustrated pages inside. What I was reading back in the 19-, well it was a long time ago, was a Marvel comic book. Its well known writer of tales wasn''t the author found on the credit of the comic book I was reading (Hulk #157) but sure enough, it was and forever more will be a Stan Lee Production.
Stan Lee. Stan 'The Man' Lee passed away today. I feel as a writer I owe a debt of gratitude towards him because he was an influence on me to pick up a pen and follow his footsteps. Back in the 1960's when the Marvel Universe exploded as part of pop culture, it was through the influence of Stan I either picked up a Marvel comic book of The Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Captain America and the Falcon, the Incredible Hulk, the X-Men, the Silver Surfer, Thor, Irving Forbush....well, except for the last entry, it's conceivable to believe Stan helped to create a lot of characters with many of the hang-ups we mere mortals had to face. Peter Parker, Don Blake, Bruce Banner and Steve Rogers dealt with the changes in their world much like the readers in their days had to do the same.
I read an interview Stan had enough of the comic book business and wanted to become a playwright or novelist. Funny how it was his wife Joan (who proceeded him in death) encouraged him to write a superhero comic that his publisher wanted him to create. That 'superhero comic' turned into the Fantastic Four. For someone who looked up to writers such as Paddy Chayefsky and Rod Serling, Stan would move on to inspire scribes from every color, creed and nationality to follow his example by the tales he wrote.
To build a universe like Marvel's it takes a team effort which is why I also have to thank Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and all of the other artists who worked with Stan to visually create the stories I read and collected for many years. Along with Stan's stories, it was the artwork that kept me buying my seventy-five cent comics month after month. (yes, once upon a time comic books were affordable)
There will be many well deserved tributes for Stan which as of today have started and possibly will continue until Avengers Four next year. The one thing I've taken away from Stan's passing is that he enjoyed the creative process of using his imagination, creating the next big storyline. As a writer I feel that I should continue to have that same devotion to my own works. I should enjoy the process and have fun with it along the way. In one of Stan's last interviews, there is a quote that as a writer, I should take heed and learn from. Responding to a question from Mark Ebner in his Daily Beast article (link below) he asks Stan if he misses 'the life'. Stan answers:
I don't miss the signings. I miss the creating. And that's the writing I'm waiting to do.
If we profess to be writers and hopefully one day leave a legacy close to Stan's, this should be our goal. Stan, thank you so, so, so much for being a part of my childhood and inspiring me to write stories in my adult life. Take care and sleep well. Excelsior!
Daily Beast link: Stan Lee Breaks His Silence: Those I Trusted Betrayed Me