Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy Belated Birthday, Stan Lee!

Oops!  Do I feel like a chump!  I knew December 28th was Stan Lee's 89th birthday, but I forgot to commemorate it here.  Well, I'm doing it now.

Despite having written who knows how many stories from the 1940s up to the present day, Stan Lee's greatest character creation has to be himself-- the Stan the Man persona.  Who would have thought a middle-aged man slinging WWII army slang and Madison Avenue-type sloganeering profusely peppered with amusing alliteration would make such a hit with the younger generation?  Who would have thought he'd still be at it 50 years later?

Lee knew how to sell comics, how to build a brand, how to create a house style like no other.  At a time when the comic book industry was moribund, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and a cast of... well... maybe a half dozen or so Marvelites-- people like Sol Brodsky, Artie Simek, Flo Steinberg, whose names we learned thanks to Lee's always enthusiastic cheerleading-- somehow Frankensteined it back to life.  Stan Lee made you feel part of something bigger than yourself, something fun, something forward thinking and fast moving, always colorful and dynamic.  Sometimes silly, frequently self-deprecating (even while playing at self-aggrandizement for the laughs, or engaging in it for real), occasionally pretentious, never less than entertaining.  The rest is comic book history, repeated thousands of times in books and better blogs than this one.

Well, I wanted to celebrate the day after Stan Lee's birth with a scintillating scene from the old Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends TV cartoon, which he narrated beginning in the show's second season-- giving the raucous Rococo revelry his personal imprimatur and improving its quality immensely in the bargain.  While I'd certainly read his "Stan's Soapbox" columns in my monthly Marvel magazines, Amazing Friends was where I first heard the Man's mellow and mellifluous voice, and ever since I've been trying and failing to channel it for my own nefarious ends.  But wouldn't you know it, all I could find were episodes without the voice overs!  I suspect someone over at the Distinguished Competition is laughing his fool head off at playing that little prank on yours truly.  But that's all right, Marvelites-- Smilin' Stan and Rascally Roy assure me Irving Forbush is on his way over there now to even the score!  So while we await the inevitable ambulance bells, here's a random clip where your ol' pal Stan the Man talks about a video game:

Face front and hang loose, true believers! Mighty Marvel's mightiest marvel marches on! Excelsior!

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