This week it’s a little more serious on DitD. BD shares why Spider-man is such a large influence on his life, as well as the man behind the web-slinger, Stan Lee.
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D: …and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and…Can I help you?!
BD: Oh, Yeah, ummm, hey that’s great, you’re doing the Sam Jackson Pulp Fiction thing. Nice.
D: Thank you….Now why are you here?
BD: Oh yeah, well, writer’s block, but you just gave me a really good idea.
D: Good, now go away.
BD: let’s get this show on the road
I’ve been a huge comic book fan for years now, but I didn’t start reading comics regularly until I was 18.
As a kid, I had an uncle that used to drop by the house or trailer, a few times a year, and every time he did, he always brought along with him a large grocery bag filled with comic books. French comic books.
At my age then, I had no understanding of the possible value of these old comic books. So they became dispensable.
And I can’t say that I was really hooked on comics, I liked to read almost anything I could get my hands on, novels be it fiction, non fiction, drama, action, horror. It didn’t really matter.
But something happened just before I turned 18. I lost a friend, One of my best friends. And that was a loss that I didn’t know how to deal with.
I missed him. I still do. I had to move on, but I didn’t know how. Marc was as funny, passionate and intelligent as anyone I’d ever met at that age. He had a way with words, he was extremely well spoken, and knew how to express himself.
If he wanted to explain something to you, you’d have a crystal clear picture of what he was talking about in your mind.
And throughout our many conversations, I realized that he himself, left me with the means to deal with this tragedy, he was able to give me something to latch onto which helped me begin to process my grief.
We had had hundreds if not thousands of conversations. Many I still remember today, and there was one in particular that came rushing back to me only a few days after his passing.
I was standing in line in a convenient store, waiting to pay for my drink, just looking around.
And my eyes fell upon one of those comic book carrousel dispensers. It was filled with all kinds of comic books, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman. But there was one that jumped right out at me. Spider-man.
Standing in that line, I immediately flashed to a conversation that I’d had with Marc. We had been talking about superheroes, and I had asked him a question, which is your favourite comic book character?
With zero hesitation, He said: Spider-man, so I asked him, why Spidey?
Marc went on to enumerate a dozen reasons why Spider-Man AND Peter Parker were his choice for all time best superhero. And there was actually no arguing with his logic. The one thing that stood out the most for me during that conversation was the way Marc described Spideys suit. He went into so much detail that he had me absolutely convinced that Spider-Man was, without a doubt, the coolest and most awesome superhero ever created.
After coming out of my daydream, I walked over to that carousel, and plucked the latest issue of Spider-Man from the rack, went over to the counter, paid for my drink and my comic book, and off I went.
As I was reading, I couldn’t help but find all these similarities between Peter Parker and my friend, just like Spidey, Marc was witty, smart, caring, sensitive, brave and courageous. And now I missed him even more.
But I kept on reading, I went and picked up the very next issue, and the one after that, and the one after that. Pretty much every issue ever since.
Because those issues had given me back something that I had lost. Reading those books kept my friend alive in my heart and gave me a way to deal with my experience.
So thank you Marc, you unknowingly planted the seed that would eventually sprout into the therapy that was able to help me come to terms with the loss of such a close friend.
But I can’t thank Marc alone, I must also thank Stan Lee. The man who co-created Spider-man and so many other super heroes it’s impossible to name them all without spending hours on the subject.
Stanley Martin Lieber, his birth name, before he legally changed it to Stan Lee, came from very humble beginning’s, to say the least.
He was born in the apartment his parents lived in at the corner of West 98th Street and West end avenue in Manhattan.
As a child he was influenced by books and movies, particularly those with Errol Flynn playing heroic roles.
Lee went to high school in the Bronx. It was pretty much at that time that he was bitten by the not so radioactive bug of writing..
Every writer has to start somewhere, and he actually started with writing obituaries fora news service and press releasesfor the National TuberculosisCenter.
He eventually ended up working as an assistant for the new Timely Comics division of pulp magazineand comic-book publisher Martin Goodman’s company. Timely, by the 1960s, would evolve into Marvel Comics.
Stanley Lieber made his comic-book debut in 1941 with the text filler “Captain America Foils the Traitor’s Revenge” in Captain America Comics #3, which incidentally was the first issue to introduce Captain America’s ricocheting shield. It’s also when Mr. Lieber began using the pseudonym Stan Lee.
Lee later explained that he had intended to save his given name for more literary work. He said that he had always hoped to write the great American novel.
This period In time, was referred to by historians, as the golden age of comic books.
After serving his country in the army, Lee returned to Timely comics and became the comic-book division’s editor-in-chief, as well as art director until 1972, when he would succeed Goodman as publisher.
It was in the 60’s that things really started moving for Lee, during this era, Lee and co-creator Jack Kirby began publishing some of the most iconic superhero books ever.
Together they created The fantastic four, the Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, and the X-Men. With Bill Everett he created Daredevil, and with Steve Ditko, Doctor Strange and of course, Marvels most successful character, Spider-Man.
Where did Stan Lee get the idea for Spider-man?
And believe it or not, the publisher thought it was a terrible idea, he thought you can’t name a superhero Spider-Man, people hate spiders. But again, little did he know.
So why did Spider-Man become such a huge success for Marvel? Well that depends on who you ask, everyone’s got an opinion. But here’s mine. I think much of Spider-man’s success is due to the fact that he is so relatable, without Peter Parker, they’re probably wouldn’t be a Spider-Man. Peter had all of the problems most teens have.
Most teen superheroes we’re usually relegated to being sidekicks to protagonists, like Robin was to Batman, or Bucky was to Captain America.
Peter Parker is the protagonist, he didn’t have a mentor. He was a teenager that had to learn everything about being a hero, all by himself, that with great power comes great responsibility.
Another thing that Stan Lee did was ground Spider-man in a relatable reality, Peter was from Forest Hills Queens in New York City.
He wasn’t from some made-up fictional fantasy city like Gotham or Metropolis. He’s a New Yorker, and that was something that the artists could use to tell their stories, they could use the airports, the bridges and buildings. All these landmarks that exist in the real world helped in the development of the character and his accessibility.
And for these reasons, Spider-man is one of the most popular and commercially successful superheroes. As Marvel’s flagship character and company mascot, he has appeared in countless forms of media, including several animated and live-action television series, syndicated newspaper comic strips, as well as a series of films.
Spider-Man helped me at a time when I desperately needed help. He gave me hope and served as a reminder to never give up. Reading books about a teen having issues that emulated my own when I was a teen was something that Stan Lee probably never would of guessed possible when he created The Amazing Spider-Man.
So thank you Stan Lee. And thank you Marc.
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I’ll see you guys next Friday.