Everything I needed to know about life, I learned from Stan Lee.
He was the architect of my childhood. The man who created the heroes that inspired me to try and be a better person — to try and be a hero.
Spider-Man taught me that with great power comes great responsibility, and that there is nobility in doing the right thing — even at great personal cost. The X-Men showed me that being different could be a source of strength, instead of weakness. And I learned from Captain America that believing in a cause bigger than yourself can make you a bigger person.
A year ago last July, I was fighting my way across the crowded floor of the San Diego Convention Center with my daughter Anya in tow behind me. Suddenly I was pressed against the wall — crushed as the gathered throngs of pop-culture geeks and comic-book fans parted like the Red Sea.
“Do you see him?” I whispered to my daughter — more to check my own senses than to make sure she could spot the incredibly obvious. She nodded silently in assent.
With the assistance of a security guard, Stan Lee was walking the floor of Comic-Con.
I caught his eye. I had a fraction of a second to act before the moment was gone and he was once again swallowed by the assembled hordes of the faithful. I couldn’t find the words to tell him how much he meant to me; how much the characters he created taught me about the kind of person I wanted to be. There was no time. So I simply said, “Thank you.”
“Your welcome!” he replied. “And thank you for being a fan!”
Goodbye, old friend.