Stan Lee, 1922 – 2018

Stan Lee died today.

Stan Lee was a remarkable creator and a dedicated advocate of his chosen genre. He spent his life being an ambassador for the work he loved, which is loved in turn by millions around the world. It’s easy to recognize what a gift that was to the rest of us, but I have little doubt it was just as fulfilling for him.

I was not a big comic book reader as a kid. Of course, I knew about the Marvel superheroes, and the Incredible Hulk was on the television once a week, suffering through his tortured existence and scaring the bejeezus out of wee little me. So I knew about comic book heroes, even if I wasn’t much into the comics themselves.

Of course, these days I bet there are folks who don’t even realize the Fantastic Four or Spidey were ever part of a physical comic book, but just know them from their many origin-story movies. Same with the Incredible Hulk. Stan Lee created characters that people discovered on television, in movies, reading graphic novels, comic books or cartoons. Even live-action entertainment … Marvel Universe Live anyone? Once discovered, Stan Lee’s creations are loved and admired for years and years.

That is undeniably a mark of a stellar and varied career, remarkable by itself. Once you add some metrics around how loved and admired Stan Lee’s cast of characters really are, it’s humbling and awe-inspiring. It’s a helluva thing to have added “with great power comes great responsibility” to the nerd lexicon, and even moreso to have had a decades long involvement with it, and so much love and acknowledgement for these creations. As a partner at a very small entertainment company, it’s also motivating and inspirational.

At Empty Set, we see our job as “making cool things for cool people” and we take our work very seriously. Even when that work is silly, or funny, or obviously not real here on Earth. Entertaining is essential work, I have no doubt. As Stan Lee said himself, “entertainment is one of the most important things in people’s lives. Without it, they might go off the deep end. I feel that if you’re able to entertain, you’re doing a good thing.”

Farewell, Stan Lee. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself with us. Excelsior!

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