Monday, December 24, 2018


There is a hole in the universe where a man once stood, or more accurately sat, behind a typewriter, tirelessly creating that very universe that he and countless millions of avid devotees inhabited for many decades. I, myself, inhabited that universe for more than fifty years before finally meeting my hero, Stan Lee, for a few brief but indelibly memorable and indubitably magical moments only three years ago. Our quick exchange (the line for the photo shoot snaked far out of sight) allowed me to thank him for that 50 years that so immeasurably influenced my life and career, and Stan (Mr. Lee, I called him) thanked me! Legends live forever in our hearts and memories, and no one could ever leave a greater and more lasting legacy than The Man without whom, the comics industry itself may have withered and died. Unfortunately, all men must depart our world, even the long-lived and and in-all-ways-but-one immortal Stan Lee. The news hit me like a blow from Thor's hammer when I heard of his passing, and I've been slow to adjust to a world without Stan Lee in it.

As for the above image, it's my guess that when the also recently and sadly departed Steve Ditko fashioned the hand gestures that were used by both Spider-Man to shoot his webs and Doctor Strange to conjure spells, he probably didn't know that it was also sign language for "I love you." In my illustration, some of Stan's most famous characters pay tribute to their creator. I included a certain shield-slinger because, though he was created by two other guys, Stan Lee's first published story at Timely Comics (seen here and here) was in Captain America #3, and also because Stan's 1960's revival of the character really brought him to life, in more ways than one.

One of the challenges in executing an illustration is knowing when to stop. I thought about including an image of Stan in the night sky above his creations, or perhaps his signature in the stars, but ultimately I decided he would be more conspicuous by his absence, which after all, is the sad point of this tribute.

To paraphrase one of Stan's most enduring proclamations, "With great responsibility comes great power!" Throughout his career, Stan gained the power to touch and influence the lives of countless millions of people world-wide. He did so with grace, humor, integrity, and vision. Never has there has been, nor ever again will there be another like him. Thank you Mr. Lee, and of course, "EXCELSIOR!"

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