I remember seeing an interview with Stan Lee where he cited his biggest inspiration as being William Shakespeare. I took that to mean less the content and more the breadth of his work, the volume of output, and his lasting impact on culture and history.

While Stan’s work may not be as labored over by academics, published in leather-bound volumes for prestigious libraries, nor assigned as part of 11th grade English literature curricula, in terms of breadth, volume, and especially impact, Stan Lee definitely met that high standard and the world is better for it.

For those that don’t know, Stan Lee––with the help of many artists, especially Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko––built Marvel Comics into what it is today. Starting with The Fantastic Four, before making other now-famous characters like Iron Man, The Hulk, The X-Men, and what was no doubt his most personal favorite creation, Spider-Man, Lee and crew brought a humanity to superheroes that didn’t exist in the monolithic emblems of purity at their competitor, DC Comics, with the likes of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman.

It was Lee who built in the idea of continuity, of heroing with consequences, and made comics a medium.

An edit I did for social media purposes.

He died at 95 years old and lived what can only be defined as a complete life, one without dangling threads (from what we could see, at least). The wake of his death should be a celebration of a life well-lived, leaving behind a legacy of generosity, ambition, kindness, and gratitude. There was only one moment, however, where I got a little choked up:

This is a tweet from the official DC Comics Twitter account. Even though they posted a longer remembrance, it was this tweet that really took the wind out of me.

Stan Lee never worked for DC in any serious or extended capacity. Again, Lee spearheaded Marvel Comics into becoming what it is, forcing DC Comics and all that wanted to break into the industry, to step up their efforts tenfold. Since the sixties, the industry has been dominated by “The Big Two” and, at times, it was a friendly, playful rivalry––at other times, less so. But this tweet really captures the unity of comics creation, that we all want to succeed and, ultimately, we want everyone involved to elevate the industry so that the entire thing becomes something greater.

Despite all the nit-picking people can do, it is undeniable that Stan Lee did that, probably more than anybody else.

So, instead of saying “RIP” or even “Thank You,” I feel the best word to close it on would be the word that defined for ages Stan’s modus operandi: