Yeah, I have a thing about commemorating influential people on their birthdays, even after they’ve passed.
This usually means someone who had an impact on me at an early age, and in particular when they continued to provide inspiration as I began finding my way as a would-be writer. Gene Roddenberry, Gene Coon, and Rod Serling are obvious examples. I imagine I’ll have something to say about Richard Matheson in a few years when we reach that milestone.
And while these days I would be described at best as a casual comics reader, there’s no denying the influence the medium had on me when I was a kid. Writers such as Jack Kirby continue to inspire, to say nothing of the admiration I hold for current creators like Jason Aaron, Gail Simone, Garth Ennis, Stephanie Phillips, Brandon Easton, Mike Johnson, Ed Brubaker, and Marjorie Liu – among so many others – just to name several off the top of my head.
And of course the guy responsible for a lot of the comics feeding my young, impressionable imagination all those many years ago was the Generalissimo himself, Stan Lee.
Today would’ve been Stan’s 100th birthday, and until his passing he was at the epicenter of comics for more than seventy years. I still have my copy of How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way, which I purchased when I was a youngster. One of these days, I’ll tell you how at one time I had aspirations of being a cartoonist if not an actual comic artist. I used to draw – a lot – and I enjoyed it, but reality soon asserted itself and I came to understand I would never possess the talent necessary to succeed in that world.
Still, Stan and so many others working in the trenches when I found my first issues of various comics set the hook deep. His was a ubiquitous presence in the pages of just about every Marvel title in those days, either as a writer or editor, or his caricature showing up on ads or in his “Stan’s Soapbox” column. He was everywhere. Countless writers and artists chose to pick up a pen, pencil, or brush, or sat down at a typewriter or computer, because he put that thought in their heads.
Including this guy whose blog you’re reading.
Happy 100th Birthday, Stan. Excelsior.