10 things I learned from Marvel Comics written by Stan Lee

Friday, December 28, 2012
Stan LeeAs Marvel Comics guru Stan Lee reaches his milestone 90th birthday today, I’m reminded of a tribute I wrote for him on the occasion of his 75th birthday. Comics Buyer’s Guide, which solicited such letters for a special issue, got literally thousands, and printed dozens, including this one, which is as true today as it was in December 1997:
Dear Stan,

As you reach your 75th birthday, you must know how much your work has meant to so many. But let me count a few of the ways anyhow:

Your breezy writing style has made generations feel at home in the pages of your books. You were speaking directly to me with phrases like, “Don’t miss the next issue, Charlie!” Didn’t matter that you used “Charlie” interchangeably with “pal,” “fearless one” and “effendi”: Those were aimed at me, too, weren’t they?

And your words shaped the values that guided us through childhood, adolescence, on into middle age and beyond—to the point where I can honestly write...

(Almost) Everything I Need to Know I Learned From Marvel Comics Written by Stan Lee
1. No matter how grim life gets, a sense of humor will help you face it.
2. Try your hardest, no matter the odds.
3. Remember that others depend on you.
4. Radioactivity is your friend.
5. The universe is a place of wonders: Seek them and cherish them.
6. Mutants are people, too.
7. No matter how ugly you are, the beauty within can shine through.
8. A well-placed flagpole is your friend.
9. With great power comes great responsibility ...
10. ... And great power can come to anyone.
OK, maybe you led us a little astray on the radioactivity part. But the rest has truly made uncounted lives more meaningful, productive and fun.

Thanks, Stan, for the great stories, the fabulous characters, the unrelenting humor and the sense of wonder with which you’ve endowed us all.

Happy 75th birthday ... effendi!
See (or, rather, hear) also my 1998 interview with Stan Lee. Enjoy.

(Photo: Stan Lee at the Phoenix Comicon in Arizona, May 2011. Photographer: Gage Skidmore.)

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