A letter to Stan Lee:
You don’t know me, but I know you. Not in the sense that we’ve met. We’ve never shook hands or sat opposite each other at a dinner table. We’ve never chatted over coffee. We’ve never even been in the same room on the same day at the same time. I know you in a difference sense - in the sense that you spilled your heart across comic panel pages for me, and hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of others, to pick up.
You built safe places to run to and heroes who hurt and bled and cried and who I could, without even having to squint, see myself in. You fought for these make believe people and their make believe worlds, pushed and pushed against all the stubborn boulders in your way. You said yes when an entire industry told you no, and then you held that industry in the palm of your hand and said, “I told you so”.
You worked endlessly, tirelessly, relentlessly to give breath and voice and life to little paper people on glossy comic book spreads and you stood beside them when they leapt up onto the big screen. And you never stopped. Not once. You kept creating, kept building, kept making people out of paper and ink and gifting them to a world they could belong to. You never put the pen down, and because of you, I’ll never let go of mine.
You don’t know me, but you saved me. Over and over again, you saved me. You saved me, and you inspired me, and you taught me. To tell the truth, you saved and inspired and taught so many people, and I think if we all tried to thank you at once the sound of our gratitude would ring so loud that they would hear it in the space station. And you know what? I think that they when they heard us, they’d join in and thank you, too.
You have changed and shaped the lives of so many people. You have spread so much light in the world that you could be your own sun - and maybe that’s what you are now: one great big star warming some far away planet. Maybe you are out there somewhere shedding golden light over a land your own creations might inhabit, and maybe they’re all cheering and basking in your glow, all of them so incredibly grateful to see you again and to welcome you home.
I will never get to thank you in person. I will always regret never having that chance (no matter how far fetched it might have been even before you left). But I’d like to thank you now. So, thank you. Thank you for showing this weird little big-dreaming writer that the underdog can win, and that if you believe in something, the whole world might start to believe in it, too.
Rest easy. You will be missed.