First off, rest in peace mr. Lee.
When someone dies, the general idea is to remember what their life was, the meaning of that life to the rest of us, and their life’s work, in this case the work of an artist.
But saying that Stan Lee was just an artist is selling it a bit short in my opinion, so let me explain how I see his work. (1.)
Nietzsche proclaimed that God was dead, which I think meant that he observed an event and then described it. And God being dead is a pretty big deal. As far as I know every single civilization before that occurrence had actually believed in a deity or deities. And by putting the word actually in that sentence I really mean actually, meaning believing something as much as you or I are capable of believing anything at all, and quite probably they believed quantitatively a lot more than we do.
I think that belief is a permanent structure of the human mind, and it needs to go towards a direction, just like intellectual inquiry or physical hunger.
Religion and faith is of course a topic that is so vast that me being able to explain all of it here is as likely as the possibility that I am actually the dream of a turnip.
But the area that I am kind of able to touch upon is our capability to put ourselves inside worlds that are in a sense metaphysical, meaning in this case the world of the imagination, which in turn is the area that has the ability and is absolutely necessary in order to dream things into actual physical existence. And dreams, day or otherwise, are not just random images, but patterns, just like a good comic book is more than just a book with a pointless story and random pictures.
It’s more like a complex key that unfolds its content into our minds and consciousnesses, and resonates with something that is already there.
I am quoting someone now, don’t know who, when I call superheroes modern gods. And we do kind of believe in them.
Not always obviously.
When I was a kid reading comic books, I lived what I was reading, similar to how I live what I am dreaming when I am asleep. Life can be mundane and boring, but the world of mythological heroes is not, and I was fascinated by that world.
And in those heroes I saw, and still do, myself, for the best stories are like a code, an archetype that is, and variations of that code last throughout the ages and remain potent because one could say the story that they are telling is simultaneously within our own code, our DNA.
As far as I can tell, the idea behind religion is the idea of becoming the best possible version of yourself, you know, all that vice & virtue stuff. We are earthbound & limited, God is not, God is the upper limit of existential capability.
I have no idea how people of old experienced their faith – what are the monks & nuns doing if not trying to elevate themselves in some manner? – but I know how I experienced comics as a kid: they made me want to reach as far and wide as I could, to imagine new possibilities and worlds. And if that is not a crucial part of our humanity, I don’t know what is.
Thank you for giving my imagination images of wonder mr. Lee.
(1.) The information in this article is by no means my own creation, much of it is derived from the academic and intellectual work of other people.