Stan Lee dies aged 95: Indian comic book fraternity mourns loss of Marvel legend, 'father of superheroes'
Members of the Indian comic book industry expressed sorrow over Marvel legend Stan Lee's death.
Lee (born Stanley Martin Lieber) shepherded Marvel into the Silver Age of Comics, having created superheroes like the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Thor, Hulk and the X-men, among others. He also formed creative — if conflicted — partnerships with comic book greats like Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby.
Lee passed away aged 95 in Los Angeles, on 12 November 2018.
As fans all over the world mourned his passing, the Indian comic book fraternity also spoke of what the loss of the pop culture icon meant to them.
Comic Con India founder Jatin Varma recalls growing up on the characters Stan Lee co-created, and which in turn, got him hooked onto comic books. "I didn’t get to know about Stan Lee, the man himself, until much later. And then, it was not just about the characters he created, but Lee himself," says Varma. "He was a great marketer, this charming guy who would sell the whole concept of comic books. He was cool."
Varma got a firsthand glimpse of the fan frenzy around Lee, when he met him at the New York Comic Con two years ago. It was to be Lee's last appearance there.
"I stood in line with the other fans… and because I was part of the same company, I was able to go back and have a quick chat with him. He was 93 and I didn’t know if he was really into it. I mean if I was 93, this is a lot to take in at a public event! But he was totally into it and we got talking about how there are tons of fans in India of not just the characters but of him. And so many people have discovered him through the movies because people got to see his cameos," Varma remembers.
Lee did a shout out for Comic Con India fans, and spoke of the Indian characters he'd created (like Chakra) and told Varma he wished he'd travelled to India much earlier.
"It is sad that he has passed away, but Stan Lee was larger than life," says Varma. "He will live forever."
Varma admits that he's a Superman fan himself, but appreciates the human quality Lee brought to superheroes such as Spider-Man and the X-Men.
"If you look at Marvel (superheroes), Peter Parker is in New York, as is Tony Stark... the characters that he created and the way they spoke was very close to how real-life people would — if they had superpowers! And I think that’s why his characters are endearing to a lot of people, and obviously because of his personality which carried forward (that charm and relatability) as well," Varma adds.
"Not many fans are aware that Stan Lee's writing and comics helped (American) youth kick their drug habits back in the '70s. He wasn't just a legend in the world of comics, but a social reformer as well," said Karan Vir Arora of Vimanika Comics. "Through the Stan Lee Foundation, he promoted education in arts and culture. This was apart from co-creating some of the modern world's most popular superheroes of course."
Arora says Lee was definitely an inspiration in setting up Vimanika. "Stan Lee was my inspiration in the world of comics, someone I could relate to, when writing and creating characters and stories that gave hope, inspiration and positivity to readers." Lee's dedication to and passion for comics is another source of inspiration for Arora. "Lee was witness to periods of time when comics were at their peak in the US, and he also stayed on through the hard times with Marvel. What's remarkable is how open to change and innovation he was." Arora says that Lee's penchant for moving with the times was evident when comics began to be digitised from 2008 onwards.
Arora says that of the entire pantheon of superheroes created by Lee, Thor remains a favourite. "I really connected with how Lee took Norse mythology and gave it a superhero twist. He made an unknown deity a youth icon... most people came to know of the Thor of myth only after they read the comics... At times, Thor reminded me of Lord Indra with his weapon — the vajra — and even his personality traits. We've lost a true legend in Lee."
Illustrator, animator and comics publisher Abhijeet Kini points out that Lee's passing marks the end of an era.
"Lee's was the name we grew up hearing and reading... The name that gave us the countless superheroes we watched and 'Marvel'ed at all these years — right from the pages of comic books to the big screen," Kini says.
Like Varma and Arora, Kini too believes it was the relatability of Lee's superheroes that made them so universally beloved.
"If Spider-Man connected with the youth and teenaged comics readers, the X-Men were a social metaphor — the mutants reflected attitudes towards minorities in America. Every one had a Marvel superhero he or she could connect with, no matter what the background or their story. This to me is the greatest purpose a medium such as a comic book could serve," says Kini.
"Stan Lee gave the world hope, be it through entertainment or social commentary," Kini added. "He also taught us perseverance. Many of his creations were termed illogical or just not worth it. Spider-man was one such creation. Many of Lee's editorial ideas didn’t hit the jackpot right from the get-go. But he stuck to his aims, and proved that with a little patience and hard work (and a definite pulse on the readers’ favourite trends), one can achieve great things. And you know how that line goes: with great power, come great responsibility. With a great creator, comes a great legacy."
Updated Date: Nov 13, 2018 21:07:19 IST