Yesterday we lost a giant in the comic book industry, with the passing of the legendary STAN LEE. STAN LEE dominated the Silver Age (1956 - 1970) through the Bronze Age (1970 - 1985) of comics and continued on into the Modern Age (1985- Present Day). His characters, the Amazing Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk, as well as many others will live forever in the annals of comic book lore.
I wish I could say that STAN and I were close friends, but the truth is, that we barely knew one another. I first met him during a meeting of the steering committee when the leaders of the comic book industry, which included STAN of Marvel Comics and CARMINE INFANTINO of DC, met to form, not a union, but a guild of comic book professionals. I was there to represent Charlton Comics, as assistant editor, since GEORGE WILDMAN, Charlton’s editor, was unable to attend. I had introduced myself to him, but in the dark room where we met, it was difficult for anyone to recall features of people they saw only briefly.
Later, when CARMINE left DC and moved on to Warren Publishing, I also had moved to Warren Publishing and CARMINE and I shared an office and eventually became friends. Years later CARMINE and I, through a mutual friend, WILLIAM DuBAY, were lured to the west coast to work in the Animation Industry and the first studio we worked for was Marvel Studios. Our first project was “Defenders of the Earth” where Flash Gordon, The Phantom, Mandrake the Magician, Lothar, and their children defended the Earth against the dastardly forces of Emperor Ming. As soon as we arrived for the first day of work, STAN came rushing to our new office to welcome CARMINE and ??? Yes, although I must have looked familiar to him, STAN did not recognize me, and no one bothered to re-introduce us.
CARMINE did not enjoy the animation industry and moved back to New York in order to return to his great love, comics, but I stayed and moved my family out to Los Angeles, where I lived for nearly 16 years. I saw STAN only one more time, in passing, because of my friendship with his assistant, PAM DUVALL. PAM and I had met on a rafting trip we had made on the American River, our mutual friend, BILL DuBAY, had suggested the trip and the three of us went as sort of unofficial representatives of Marvel Films, although I believe the name had changed to something else by then. After the trip, I had stopped by PAM”S office in order to have lunch with her, when STAN poked his head in her office to make a comment about the new Spider-Man movie. PAM introduced me and STAN, friendly as always, appeared to be delighted to meet me for the first time, not realizing he had met me twice before.
That was the last time I saw STAN, in person, although I took delight ineeing him make his signature Hitchcockian style appearances in several Marvel Movies. I had to suppress a desire to wave at him and say, “Remember me? I was the guy from PAM”S office,” the only place he might recall my name and face. But I recall him very well. His voice and pixyish charm were unmistakable. I’m certain there will be many bios of the great man who, single-handedly, revived and then made the comic book industry into an adult form of entertainment. There are many wonderful people in our industry, but STAN LEE’S name will tower over them all.