Excelsior - A Tribute to Stan Lee
If you haven't already heard, the world of superhero comics has lost arguably its most famous and iconic creator: Stan Lee.
Growing up, I didn’t know much about Stan Lee or his work. In fact, during my childhood the only time I’d seen or heard of him was a brief cameo appearance on Muppet Babies (A bit odd, but perhaps appropriate that I was first introduced to him through a cameo). I didn’t watch Spider-Man or X-Men; I was a devotee to the Ninja Turtles, and begrudgingly opened up to the Power Rangers near the end of my time in elementary school. But as superheroes became more mainstream – and thus, more accessible to new blood – I became more aware of him and his work. Eventually, I learned that his characters were a huge influence on the Ninja Turtles, with Daredevil’s origin story tying into that of the Turtles in their original comic, and the Foot being a parody of the Hand. Stan Lee had indirectly played a crucial role in my childhood, inspiring the characters who, in turn, inspired me to draw and eventually to create my own webcomic.
Eventually, I would watch his Who Wants to Be a Superhero show, look for him in Marvel movies, and listen for his distinctive voice in Marvel cartoons. It was always a pleasure to see where he would pop up next. He wasn’t just someone who created characters; he WAS a character. Stan Lee was a lively, cheerful old man who was happy to create worlds of magic and wonder that entertained those he called “true believers” – essentially, he was the Santa Claus of comics.
It’s sad to lose him, but he’s accomplished a lot in his 95-year-long life, and his characters will live on for a long, long time. I felt it only right that my characters and I pay tribute to him, hence the drawing of my characters dressed as his characters (with a little extra webbing as well, because I couldn’t resist).
While I’ve drawn Belt Boy as many famous superheroes for Halloween, he’s never been dressed as a DC or Marvel character. I figured that Belt Boy would best represent Captain America; he’s lawful good, but not afraid to think outside the box, nor act outside the rules if they compromise his moral code. The only difference is that Cap has way fewer gadgets (although his shield is pretty versatile). I drew him giving a salute, which would be very much in-character for BB or Cap.
Titanium Maiden is also dressing as someone she wouldn’t dress as for Halloween (she usually dresses as famous redheads): She-Hulk. Shulkie happens to be one of my favorite Marvel characters, quite possibly because she resembles not only Titanium Maiden, but all three of my main heroes. She’s a great leader like Belt Boy, she has a powerful-yet-feminine physique like TM, and she shares both a color scheme and a love of breaking the fourth wall with Cannon (Yes, I put some of Cannon’s green-and-purple into TM’s costume). She has her hand over her heart; an appropriate response for the heart of my team.
I’ve never been a big fan of Iron Man (although part of that is due to an admittedly petty grudge against Robert Downey Jr. for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes), but it was hard to find someone better suited for Cannon to dress as. Blaster arms, big helmet, similar armor designs, huge ego, tons of snark... Yup, that’s Cannon in a nutshell. While Tony Stark is a heavy drinker, Cannon’s underage, hence my explicitly showing the Root Beer bottle as Cannon raises his glass in a toast.
You will be missed, Stan Lee. You taught us to be creative, to fight against bigotry, to love ourselves and each other for who we are, and most of all, to reach ever upward.
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