Sideshow’s Week in Geek: Remembering Stan Lee
This week, we wanted to dedicate Sideshow’s Week in Geek to remembering and celebrating the life of Stan Lee, whose work and influence has played an immeasurable part in the formative geek experience of many staffers here at Sideshow- not just as artists, but as fans and True Believers.
We asked Sideshow team members to share their own stories, memories, or thoughts about his influence, to both commemorate and celebrate one of the architects of Marvel Comics, an absolute modern legend. Here’s what they had to say…
I don’t know that I can pinpoint what the life of Stan Lee means to me in one story. It ultimately was a series of stories, but very few of them even involved him directly. I’d say that if I am remembering Stan Lee and his life and his work, it comes down to the feeling that he gave me. It was (and still is) a feeling of security, that it was okay to be different.
In some instances, it meant that the difference made me special, but it was *my* difference and what I chose to do with it that mattered. Stan Lee gave me the choice and the confidence to walk through life with my head held high, knowing that there were heroic bits and mutant bits and awkward bits inside me, and all of that just meant that I had the power to save the world.
The man, the myth, the LEEgend.
Without the efforts of this man, comic book pop culture would be on a completely different level, maybe even non-existent? My favorite moment with Stan was when he mentioned to me, “Finders Keepers”… referring to my wife… who really didn’t have a problem with it.
Neither did I.
I met Stan Lee by chance an airport once- we were on the same flight!- and didn’t know quite what to say to him as we both waited in the gate seating area. It was going to be a long flight and if I didn’t say something before we boarded I knew I’d spend the whole time kicking myself for not thanking Stan for how much his work meant to me. I nervously introduced myself and thanked him for creating so many meaningful characters, some of whom have impacted my life in ways I cannot properly express.
He laughed, smiled, and said, “I do it for people like you.” Now, he didn’t know me, and he didn’t have to say that, but in my heart and mind I knew that as long as I was a fan of these heroes and worlds he created, I wanted to be someone that he would be proud to say that to. It was something I’ll never forget, and will carry with me now more than ever as we celebrate Stan’s legacy (along with the likes of Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, of course).
As a heartwarming, funny bonus moment- I boarded the plane some time after Stan, and as I did, I turned and noticed that on his in-flight movie screen he had started to watch The Avengers. Excelsior!
Despite his fame, we always found Stan Lee took the time to stop and say hello to the fans, especially the kids. This was always a highlight for the kids at each Comic-Con. This photo is from SDCC 2016, where he stopped to take a picture with the girls.
I have a weird habit of inadvertently sharing elevators with celebrities. It’s a very weird experience due to my introverted nature. After a minute or two, I feel the need to break the ice with a hello and an acknowledgement that I appreciate what they do. Usually they say thank you, which is then followed by a slow, quiet, and slightly awkward trip to the lobby or wherever.
There have been exactly two times where I have been too hero struck to actually say anything at all. The first was Neil Gaiman, where I froze and stared straight ahead at the gold mirrored wall the entire (agonizingly slow) trip up to my floor.
The second was Stan Lee.
It was at Comic Con in either 2016 or 2017. The doors opened to a very crowded hotel elevator, and right in the center of it all was Stan. He was laughing, and chatting with all the other riders. Again, I froze, and if not for one of my co-workers (who was already in the elevator) beckoning me to hop on, I likely would have just stood there and stared, mouth agape, as the doors closed.
What followed is something of a blur. Some people were taking selfies and laughing as Stan told a funny story I can’t remember. I didn’t get a selfie, but at my co-worker’s suggestion, I did finally say “Hi” and shook Stan’s hand.
And then that was it. The ride ended and everyone got off the elevator. Most of us just stood in the lobby for a few moments and watched as Stan and his handler walked off. Then we all turned to one another and smiled in awe of what we just experienced.
Yeah, it was kind of awesome.
I’m still working my way through the Spider-Man PS4 game- I picked it up again the day we got the sad news about Stan’s passing, and it made me feel like I could actually do something good in the (virtual) world. Swinging along, I realized he gave us more than just characters- he gave us blueprints for how to make an impact in our own world. The values these characters represent are really at the core of how someone can become super- responsibility, worthiness, bravery, loyalty, teamwork. Our differences are our strengths, and Stan knew that.
Stan Lee’s cameo in that Spider-Man game is probably my favorite that he has ever done. Without spoiling it, it’s the perfect thing to not only reference his legacy as a creator of so many iconic characters, but also it makes his world- Marvel’s New York- feel completely real. These characters live and breathe in our imaginations, and will continue to come to life as we celebrate Stan’s legacy well beyond just these last few days.
Big thanks to everyone who shared their experiences in celebration of Stan Lee. He will certainly be missed, but his legacy will live on in comics, movies, and our hearts. Thank you, Stan Lee, and excelsior!
Do you have a special Marvel memory or story you’d like to share? Join us in commemorating Stan The Man and let us know in the comments.