At 4:30 a.m. on Monday, I finally wrapped up work on a Spider-Girl cover after a tight three-day deadline. I heaved a sigh of relief and sent the cover artwork to my editor.
This marked my sixth cover for Marvel Comics after a few years of being scouted and working on my portfolio.
What seemed like a great working day suddenly came crashing down as I lay in bed scrolling through my phone’s news feed: “Stan Lee dead at 95.” Fans and followers echoed my disbelief that Marvel’s chief creative force had passed on.
I checked the official Marvel page and choked with emotion. I knew it would happen eventually, but part of me still wanted to bargain with Dormammu a bit longer.
Losing Lee was like losing an old friend—someone who hasn’t been in touch for some time, but will always be there for you in a heartbeat.
Even in his 90s, he still made an effort to attend comic-book conventions, greeting fans who flew from different parts of the globe and camped out to meet him, their hero.
As writer and editor, Lee, with artist and co-writer/editor Jack Kirby, created superheroes with a flawed humanity: the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, the X-Men, Daredevil (with Bill Everett), Doctor Strange and Spider-Man (both with Steve Ditko). That’s what endeared him to the geeks who identified with these complex characters.
Lee created these characters to resonate with readers, for people to realize that they, too, can be superheroes in their own way.
In a world plagued with injustice and bigotry, Lee believed that kindness and equality must always triumph.
I was eight years old when I started reading “The Amazing Spider-Man” comic strip in the Sunday papers. Whenever my dad bought the local newspaper, he made sure to set aside the comics section so my brother and I could read it.
I was fond of watching animé and cartoons on TV, but reading comics in the papers was more appealing.
When I learned that people could make a living by drawing comics, my curiosity grew even wider. I started to pick up my pencil and paper.
I remember saving up my lunch money to buy comics and manga in a local bookstore. I would try to recreate the drawings using my pencils and show them around.
Never in my dreams
I knew then that I would be an illustrator.
Never in my dreams did I think that, 17 years later, I would be drawing comics covers for Marvel itself! It wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for the wonderful world that Lee, Kirby and Ditko created.
It was 5 a.m. when another cover artist for Marvel, Koi Carreon, and I talked about Lee’s death. Like me, Koi was driven to pursue arts after being hooked on Marvel.
Watching the “Spider-Man” cartoon series on local TV, Carreon recalled one episode that featured Lee in one of his cameo appearances.
Like the heart pumping blood through our veins, Lee lives on through his principles and ideals.
Anyone can be a superhero, regardless of race, gender and status in life. In Lee’s words, “We are all part of a big family, and we all come together in the body of Marvel that moves upward and onward to greater glory.”
This is what Stan Lee has always believed in, and not even Thanos can snap his fingers on that.
In other words, Excelsior!
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