Stan Lee -- an icon, a legend, a creative dynamo...the man who brought Iron Man, Thor, Spider-Man, the Hulk and so many other comic book characters to the forefront of pop culture. But who knew? An autograph session with Stan is not just business as usual; it’s a complete one man show. Of course, when Stan signs in public, there’s crowds, fans, flash bulbs, movie cameras,etc. When the great man is signing in a cavernous warehouse with an audience of just a few...well, that’s a different story.
I should note here that working with Stan Lee is more than just business for me. My first real contact with Stan was as a twelve year old fanboy writing gushing letters to “Stan & Jack” that were published in the back pages of Fantastic Four and Incredible Hulk comics.Many eons pass and when my son was but a lad, no surprise! He was a Stan fan,too. He proudly posed for a picture with Stan at the LA Times Book Festival one year.
So, it’s with great pride and privilege that our gallery was able to create giant reproductions of some of the comics Stan had more than a little hand in creating. As Stan told me when he saw our prints for the first time, “"I always felt what we were creating was art. It's fantastic to see it represented this way.”
When Stan arrives for the warehouse signing, he’s wearing one of his trademark Members Only jackets and as someone noted, “He’s the last member.” But he looks cool, ageless and energized. The signing goes on for hours and Stan’s determined to keep going, but he has to keep himself and the small team of workers entertained, right? He begins by offering succinct reviews on the curent flux of Marvel movies. The Avengers? “The best part was my cameo!” X-Men? “No cameo. They did that so people would come back and see it a second time. ‘We must have missed the Stan Lee cameo!’”
Still adding his signature, the man who inspired the entire comic book industry launches into a multi-layered tribute to his own classic inspirations. There’s Shakespeare -- no less than Julius Caesar. And not just Marc Antony’s “Friends, Romans, countrymen...” -- but Brutus’s speech, as well. “Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more.”
Then he moves on to Edgar Allan Poe. “Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary...” Of course, you can find all of the drama, nobility and romantic notions of Shakespeare and Poe in Stan’s writings, too. That's what he brought to the comic page. But Is that all? He teases Kahlil Gibran -- “’A loaf of bread, a jug of wine’...ah, we’ll get to that next time!" he barks.
As Stan wraps up his signing session, he offers a jaunty song or two -- the standards, of course: he sings, “Pack up all your cares and woes...” in a fine baritone. Turns out Stan’s a scholar, a musicologist, a national treasure and a true renaissance man. He’s certainly an entertainer who has given us great fun, adventure and iconic characters for some 70 years. Thank you, Stan Lee! Excelsior!
The Marvel limited edition prints, signed by Stan Lee, are available on ArtKandy.com.
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December 13, 2020