Monday, November 12, 2018

RIP, Stan Lee.

You've heard the news, sad but not surprising. Stan Lee has passed away.

So many memories are flashing through my mind right now:

* As an 11 year old in 1967, confined to bed for a few days after surgery to repair a badly broken right arm, my life-long friend Steven brought me two comics, Fantastic Four #65 and Amazing Spider-Man #51, both scripted by Stan Lee. That set me on a path of loving comics, of finding solace and escapism in between the pages of my favorite comics and books. It also set me up as a huge fan of Stan "the Man" Lee and the hall of fame artists he worked with on those two comics, Jack Kirby and John Romita.


* After college, I sold radio advertising and did promotion work for KJOY-AM 1280 in Stockton CA. In 1985, I had the goofy idea to ask Marvel Comics to name Stockton as the "Birthplace of marvel Comics' Fantastic Four" for Marvel's 25th anniversary. Stan Lee was called by the LA Times for his reaction and he said something like "At Marvel, we're accustomed to saving universes on a daily basis. This is the least we could for good ol' Stockton."

Shortly after that interview, Stan called my KJOY office and I could hardly believe it! Months later, Marvel sent him to Stockton where Stan and I shared the stage for a special presentation on the steps of city hall. At lunch after the event, Stan said to me "You did a great job with this promotion, kid." And I responded "Well, Stan, if you ever need a public relations' guy, give me a call." I was stunned when he did call a few months later. I wound doing publicity for his lovely wife Joanie's novel, "The Pleasure Palace." Stan called me his "outside man."


* After the success of the FF campaign, Stockton area comics promoter Bill Herrell invited me to a planning meeting for a convention that would start in 1987 with the unwieldy title "The Wonderful World of Comics Convention." Bryan Uhlenbrock gets credit for shortening it to "WonderCon" in 1989. Stan was a guest, at my personal request and his acceptance, at the first three WonderCon events.

* In '88, I made the jump from radio to comics retailing. On the day we opened, October 3, 1988, there was message left on the store's answering machine. It was Stan, congratulating me on getting the store open with his and Joanie's wishes for the success of Flying Colors.

* In April 1990, Stan made his first visit to Flying Colors. It was on a Saturday morning of WonderCon weekend, so it was a short visit. But Stan told me he wanted to see the store, but for me to keep his appearance low key. He told me to invite no more than 20 of my friends and customers... and that became a very special time, when I was able to return the favor to my friend Steve, the one who got me into comics back in '67, by inviting him to the private Stan event.




  * In 1995, when Flying Colors was the recipient of the Will Eisner "Spirit of Comics" Award for Retailing Excellence, I was able to share a moment with Stan and Joanie and let them know I was grateful to them for encouraging me in comics retail.

* 1998: Flying Colors' 10th Anniversary. I decided to take a page out of the Marshall McLuhan playbook ("the medium is the message") and so we published our first comic book. I was thrilled when Stan agreed to write the introduction for it. I was far less thrilled when the comic didn't sell much. Oh well.

* 2001: Stan was inducted into the Cartoon Art Museum's Hall of Fame with a "Sparky"--- an award named in honor of Charles Schulz. I was honored to give Stan's introductory speech to his induction.




* 2013: The San Francisco Giants did their first "Stan Lee Night" at the ballpark. Prior to that event, Stan returned to Flying Colors for our 25th anniversary and for a whirlwind afternoon of photos, signatures and media.

Look, I could on, but so could everyone of the millions who knew Stan either personally or through his Marvel persona. Stan was wonderful to me and to my family and I'll always be grateful to him.

Stan and Joanie were a wonderful couple, married just shy of 70 years! A friend of mine who dealt with Stan regularly in his later years said "When he was in Los Angeles, Stan would agree to do things as long as they didn't take more than 59 minutes. Once it hit one hour, Stan would say 'I've got to get back to my Joanie.'" Stan and Joanie together were a great love story!

I'm sad about this, as are all Stan's fans. But I am grateful for all he did for me and for the wider world of comics and pop culture. I'm happy to have known him and found him to be a good man, a man of his word and a devoted husband.

RIP, Stan. Thank you.
-->




Post a Comment