Comic creator Mark Millar recently sat down with Big Issue for a discussion o the impact Stan lee had on his career, and the comic book industry as a whole. Here’s what Millar had to say about Stan Lee, who turned 93 earlier this month.
There’s not many people you could say it about but the world would be a very different place without Stan Lee. I would be doing a job I’d probably hate. I wouldn’t have discovered comics because the comics industry wouldn’t exist. Stan was one of two or three people who saved it back in the early 1960s.
He was the pioneer, giving us something we’d never seen. Before Stan, superheroes were very one-dimensional. They were guys with black hair or guys with blonde hair. They wore grey suits or blue suits. They did good and that was it, the stories were relatively unsophisticated. Stan humanised them. He gave them that second and sometimes a third dimension. Peter Parker (AKA Spider-Man) was young, skinny and not good looking. He made God-like characters relatable.
He did what I do (obviously I copied him), writing about the world we were living in. Everybody else was writing about fantasy worlds, whether it was Gotham City or Metropolis, but Stan’s Marvel Universe was the world outside your window.
Millar continues by comparing Lee to Walt Disney with the following rather controversial statement:
He’s more important than Walt Disney. Disney was in there in the beginning with Mickey Mouse but what followed wasn’t his own creations. But all the really good Marvel superheroes are the work of Stan Lee and his legendary co-creators Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko. Marvel has been existing on their ideas and characters for 50 years now, and in Hollywood the well they go to is Stan’s well. If you look back over the last 15 years, the top grossing movies tend to be related to Stan in some way.
While it’s safe to say that Stan Lee and Walt Disney are both immensely important in their contributions to our modern popular culture, we here at Masks&Capes are less concerned about who is more important than the other. That said, we completely agree with Mr. Millar’s next comment:
There is a contagious enthusiasm in his work. He wrote an introduction for a Spider-Man book I wrote a few years ago. I’d obviously read the book several times because I’d written it, and then when it was published I read Stan’s introduction and he got me so excited about my own story that I re-read the book. That’s the power of Stan.
Stan is who we want to be when we grow up. I went to the Palms Hotel when I was on a book tour. I was heading off at about four in the morning and the manager said I was a lightweight; Stan was here until six last week and he was up on stage dancing. He always has two Scotches so that he’s never without a drink. As one goes, the other is being refilled.
So, what do you think? Where would you rank Stan Lee’s contributions to our popular culture? Share your thoughts below: