I was traveling yesterday, so I was late receiving the news that Stan Lee died at the age of 95. I can’t begin to tell you how I feel right now. He was one of the true giants of comics and the greatest ambassador the comic book industry ever had. His enthusiasm and love for the medium was always apparent and contagious.

I first met Stan at the Chicago Comicon in 1976, and we hit it off right away when asked to pose for a group photo involving many DC folks… and Stan. Stan saw the humor in the situation and positioned himself high on a table–dead center in the group–with me (the shortest guy in the bunch) standing in front of him. I asked the photographer to snap the shot on the count of three, whereupon I jumped up and struck a Superman pose, blotting Stan out of the picture. (That photo was later published with me mislabeled as “Dave Cockrum”, thereby blotting me out.)

Stan laughed harder than anyone and that was the kickoff to our friendship.

As comic conventions became more prevalent, artists and writers have taken on a sort of gypsy lifestyle, meeting and passing on the road, forming friendships in glancing blows over the years and sometimes going for years without laying eyes on each other. That was the way it was for Stan and me.

Fast forward several decades. I hadn’t seen Stan in too many years and we were both attending San Diego Comicon when I spotted him in the lobby of a hotel talking to another gentleman. I went over to say hi, not expecting him to remember me. He looked up and said, “Hi, Mike. Why the hell didn’t you ever come to work for me?”

Damned if I know, Stan. It would have been fun.

Stan Lee left an indelible mark on the world of comics and entertainment. His legacy will never be blotted out.


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