VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Comic shop owners are mourning the loss of the man they say breathed life into superheroes, transcended the industry and changed the direction of pop culture.
Stan Lee, the man who helped populate the Marvel universe with such characters as Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, the X-Men, the Avengers, and Captain Marvel, passed away Monday in Los Angeles at the age of 95.
Lee, who got his humble start in comics in the 1930s, is credited with reviving the industry in the 1960s by introducing human frailties, and content geared towards maturing teens and adults. Whether it was dealing with mutant minorities being ostracized from society, or fights among the Fantastic Four, Lee never shied away from humanizing super heroes or dealing with social issues.
“Sure they have super powers, but they were more relatable to the everyday person,” The Comicshop owner Keith Bickford said. “They had problems paying rent, problems with their girlfriends and I think a lot of the other characters from other companies, there was sort of a distance between them and the reader.”
That relatability is likely what propelled Lee beyond the realm of comics into a household name, according to Bickford.
“Everybody knows who Michael Jordan or Wayne Gretzky are. They don’t have to be basketball or hockey fans. Stan Lee was the same way,” he said. “They made not read comics or follow any of that stuff but they would know who Stan Lee was just because he was this larger than life person.”
Despite his world renowned fame, Golden Age Collectables owner Patrick Shaughnessy also remember a man who always had time for his fans and was quick with a witty comment.
“One time I got into an elevator at the San Diego convention and Stan Lee’s in the elevator,” he said. “You always say ‘gee it’s nice to see you. You’re stuff meant so much to me and I really enjoyed it all these years.’ Finally, I noticed he’s looking at me and I’m wearing a Superman tie and he goes ‘wrong tie, true believer.”
Known for making tongue in cheek cameos in the video adaptations of his classic comics such as Spiderman, The Incredible Hulk, X-Men, Captain America and Deadpool, as Marvel’s movie success continued to rise, so too did Lee’s presence in Vancouver.
His last public appearance in Vancouver was in 2013 when he attended the second annual Fan Expo.
Shaughnessy hopes other comic artists and writers continue Lee’s legacy of “unabashed creativity.”
“You expect someone like that to go on forever,” he said.