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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 11/19/2008

Plaudits Still Pour In for "Spider-Man's" Stan Lee

By Michael Cavna

In Comic Riffs yesterday, Marvel Comic's Reg Hudlin ("Black Panther") offered his thoughts on "Spider-Man" co-creator STAN LEE's receiving the national Medal of Honor at the White House on Monday. Today, the testimonials continue to pour in to 'Riffs. Here's what two other colleagues had to say about Stan the Man:

A cartoon version of Stan Lee poses with his creation.Enlarge Comic

"Stan changed comics," says Jeph Loeb, writer of "Hulk" and veteran of TV's "Lost," "Smallville" and "Heroes." "He gave them a voice, a look, a maturity and somehow pulled it off with a sense of fun."

"I'm proud to have brought him to 'Heroes' as an actor," Loeb continues. "He was astonishingly good as the happy busdriver, and I only had to change his one line in three lines to keep him happy! He gives everyone a sense that they are appreciated for what they've done and somehow remembers each of us like a true fanboy. He's every bit the hero of the stature of those he created."

"Iron Man" writer Matt Fraction also is effusive in his comments about Lee:

"Let's put aside everything Stan and Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, John Romita and everyone else accomplished creatively," says Fraction. "Let's ignore the extraordinarily short period of time it took them to build an entire universe; let's agree to not get into the breadth of their ideas and richness of their talents, who contributed what when, and where it all went right or wrong and everything else. These are things that will be debated about long after you and I are dead and buried.

"Let's talk, instead, about the Bullpen Bulletins. These were little hype columns from the heart of the Marvel Bullpen, that ran on an ad page where Stan promoted upcoming books and, more importantly, opened the imaginary doors of Marvel to us, the reader, and made the place sound like a cross between the circus, a clubhouse, and Willy Wonka's world headquarters. This was the place where Stan created not just the character and persona of "Stan The Man," (or "Jack 'King' Kirby" or "Jazzy Johnny Romita") but a legion of diehard fans.

"The Bullpen Bulletins," he continues, "are the pieces of writing that created, from whole cloth, the Marvel brand. It was protoviral marketing and brand building; it's base-building 101. The Bullpen Bulletins made everyone who read them want to be a part of Marvel beyond just reading the books. It's Stan-as-P.T. Barnum, right? And I don't know a single kid that wasn't buying what he was selling.

"Even today, every time I go to the Marvel offices [in Manhattan]... I'm thinking, in the back of my head, about Stan's soapbox. I'm thinking about the bullpen he created. I've never wanted to visit a mythical place more."

By Michael Cavna  | November 19, 2008; 11:00 AM ET
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If you only know Stan's writing from the pathetic daily Spiderman strip, then you don't know Stan. What a fertile imagination to come up with Spidey, the Xmen, Capt. America, etc.

And Matt Fraction was right. The Marvel Bullpen Bulletins were great. When DC ruled and Marvel was the pipsqueak on the block, Stan was at his best. I'll have to go look up my oldest comics and reread the bulletins.

Posted by: steveh46 | November 19, 2008 12:52 PM | Report abuse

To me, the biggest impact of Stan Lee was his realization that being a superhero would totally mess up your personal life. Think about it; prior to Stan Lee, Clark Kent was a reporter who filed less copy than Tony Kornheiser and Bruce Wayne was a billionaire playboy, neither of whom ever faced any consequences from their double lives. Same for any superhero you care to think of.

Then along comes Peter Parker. Who lives in Queens, not some fictional Metropolis or Gotham City, who can't hold a steady job or keep a relationship going because he's always missing work or standing up a date while he's foiling a bad guy's scheme. (In the early days of the character, pre Mary Jane, Parker's romantic problems were a given. His first love, Gwen Stacy, was KILLED because of her connection to him.)

That's so unlike the perfect lives of the other comics characters of the early 1960's. That was Stan Lee's great contribution, I think.

Posted by: greggwiggins | November 20, 2008 9:21 AM | Report abuse

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