Not to get too schmaltzy here, but if you grew up reading Marvel comics, especially during the ‘60s, ‘70s or ‘80s, you probably feel like you have a special connection to Stan Lee. His writing and editing days were mostly gone by the time I fell hard for Marvel in the mid ‘80s, but Stan’s presence still loomed large over the entire company through his Stan’s Soapbox column, which ran, at different points in time, on the Bullpen Bulletins page found in every Marvel comic and in the Marvel Age promotional series. Stan was always in peak form in these columns, taking Marvel’s pulse every month with the breezy, gleefully insincere showbiz patter he had perfected during his time overseeing Marvel in the ‘60s. Making everybody feel like a friend who was in some secret club might’ve been Lee’s greatest gift, and it’s hard to think of anybody else in American culture who pulled that off for so long and with so many different generations. Stan Lee was like a Walt Disney who felt real and approachable and human, and even though 95 is an amazing run for anybody, it’s still terrible to have lost him.
Pretty much the entire entertainment world has been paying him tribute since news of his passing broke yesterday, but the most touching memorial so far has come, unsurprisingly, from Marvel Comics. Earlier today the company shared this moving eulogy on YouTube and social media, with anecdotes from current Marvel execs and fantastic archival footage of Stan from throughout the decades. It would’ve been nice to have a few words from some of the few remaining 1960s Marvel Bullpen members (especially John Romita, Roy Thomas, Sal Buscema, and Lee’s own brother, Larry Lieber), but it’s understandable that the company couldn’t put that together on such short notice. This is still a great, short remembrance of Stan Lee, whose promotional prowess and way with words turned the comics he helped Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and others create into timeless pillars of pop culture.
And yes, I cried just a little at the end. I’m not ashamed to admit it.