Stan Lee passed away this week at the age of 95, and I don't think it's hyperbole to call him the most influential creator of the 20th Century. He co-created Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, The Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, and many others, making Marvel Comics a force to be reckoned with. He even created a new way to write comics in order to keep up with writing duties, as he was writing most of the comics at the start. The Marvel Method: Stan would give a plot to an artist and have them draw it. When they were done, Stan would add the dialogue, this is how he could write so many comics at once. I know there's some controversy over how much credit Jack Kirby, and others, received, and some will say Stan "screwed over," those individuals. I wasn't there, and I can't say what did or didn't happen. But if nothing else, Stan Lee DID share credit with Kirby, Ditko, and the other Marvel artists as co-creators. That's more than Bob Kane ever did for Bill Finger.
The thing about Stan is that while he essentially become the face of Marvel Comics, he never felt like a corporate shill, he felt like a friend. Whenever you read one of "Stan's Soapboxes," or his replies to readers in the letter columns, it felt like he was talking to you personally. I got to meet him once at a convention several years ago, and I'll never forget it. I was in a line to have one of my trades signed, and it was being directed at a quick pace, so everyone only had a few seconds with the man. As he signed my Spider-Man" Sinister Six Hardcover I said, "I'm a big fan of your work." Stan replied, "Why thank you, I'm so glad you could come." I was on cloud 9 for the rest of the day. I'm sure Stan said that to everyone in that line, but it still felt like he meant it. And that was Stan's real genius, his ability to connect with other people.
95 is a good run, and I don't think anyone can say he was "taken too soon." He'd already outlived most of his contemporaries, and his wife passed away last year. Despite knowing that, losing Stan Lee still hurts. You'll always be in our hearts Stan, thank you for all the stories, and for bringing a bit more light into the world.