taken a day to gather my thoughts before reacting to Stan Lee’s
passing. Comic books have been such an important part of my life and
his work in particular has had a massive impact on me.
When I was
a little kid, I lived in an English part of Montreal – all of my
friends and family were English – but when I started school I was sent
to a French immersion school. That was my first real exposure to the
French language. I hadn’t spoken a word of French before I started
school. It also happened to be at a time of political turmoil and many
of my teachers had little patience for an English kid and refused to
speak to me in a language that I could understand. My 3rd grade teacher
-a horrible woman named Ange DuPuis - told me that I was stupid. Not
surprisingly, I was horrible student, straight Ds barely passing each
My first breakthrough in learning French came from comic
books – European comics from France and Belgium like “Asterix” and “Tin
Tin”. Being able to match words with pictures made it easier for me to
learn French, at least enough where I could get by at school.
When I was 11 my family moved to Toronto – no more French to struggle
through! – but I quickly learned that as a result of my French
schooling, I was way behind in my level of English reading. When I left
Montreal, I was reading 10 page “Dick & Jane” books. My first week
in Toronto I was assigned a copy of “Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded
Fang” and told I had two weeks to read it. I was lost.
saved me again. Once again I dove into comic books, English Marvel
comics this time. It was this world created by Stan Lee that changed
everything for me. I went from being a terrible student who could
barely read to a straight A student would couldn’t find enough things to
read. The kid who thought of reading “Jacob Two-Two” as an impossible
task became a kid living in a room that was over crowded with books
(something that is still true to this day!).
It isn’t just my
love of reading that I owe to Stan, there’s so much more…my intellectual
curiosity, my love of science, technology, NASA, space exploration etc
all have their roots in Stan’s writing. Even my politics and social
views were shaped by Stan (Marvel’s “mutants” were thinly veiled
stand-ins for the Civil Rights Movement). His influence on me and who I
became are so enormous that I can’t imagine who I’d be had I not
discovered his work, but I’m certain I would have been much
different...and worse off for it.
Rest in peace Stan.
Aside from Christianity, Stan Lee is probably the second biggest shaper of my morality and ethics. He lived a full and rich life, and is beloved by millions. What can you say, except "excelsior"?