Remembering Stan Lee – Comic fans look back

Comic book stores like Worlds Collide in Oshawa showcase hundreds of comics inspired by Stan Lee's work. Photo credit: Peter Fitzpatrick

The man behind the Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man and many other beloved comic icons has died – but will “live on forever.”

At least that’s the opinion of Myke Pulito, a local musician, comic fan and former Durham College instructor.

“He’s going to live on forever as the face of what Marvel Comics was,” he said.

However, some people think Lee’s legend was overstated.

According to Brian Annan, an employee at Oshawa comic book store Worlds Collide, Lee hogged much of the attention from his collaborators such as Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko.

“He didn’t treat people fairly, he hogged way too much of the limelight and certainly most of the money,” Annan said.

Lee, nicknamed ‘The Man’, played a vital role in Marvel’s success. From his characters to his cameos in movies, Lee was a household name long before the rise of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Many comic readers were saddened – but not shocked – by Lee’s passing at age 95 on Nov. 12.

“Obviously it’s a bummer … it wasn’t like a whole ‘oh, I can’t believe Stan Lee’s gone,’ kinda thing, the dude was old,” said Pulito.

Lee, along with Marvel penciller Kirby and artist Ditko, forged Marvel Comics into the multi-million dollar company it is today and was important to the resurgence of the comic industry in the 1960s.

According to Annan, while Lee had a big voice in the comic industry, he hadn’t been an active participant in the process of making comics for close to 45 years.

“Everyone knows [Lee’s] voice, they know his face, he’s ever-present,” Annan said.

When the news came out about Lee’s death on Monday, Annan said customers in the store were disappointed and nostalgic. Some customers bought Lee’s work in anticipation of a possible future increase in value due to his passing, Annan added.

Pulito said Lee’s characters are so beloved because they are relatable, even with their superpowers.

“Underneath the ‘mask’ of these [characters] … they were real, they had bits of us in them, or bits of himself in these very human characters,” he said.

While Lee may not have done much to push the company near the end, his figurehead status won’t change even now, according to Pulito.

Lee was reportedly working on a new superhero named Dirtman, his daughter, J.C. Lee told other media outlets.