Those who know me recognize that I have three great loves; comics, hip hop and fashion. Anyone close to me would be to tell you that. What may surprise those who have only met me recently is that my first obsession was comic books and that my first hero was Stan Lee.
Boys like myself that grow up without fathers in their lives are never short on father figures. When I was about 7 years old mine was a kindly ESL teacher named Mr. Martin. Mr. Martin did more than just teach me the English language. He was the person that introduced me to comic books. It was such a great gift to a young boy with an overactive imagination. I loved learning about the colorful cast of characters and I also loved reading the letters page. The letters page was where I first met Stan Lee.
Young me didn’t think of Stan as a savvy entrepreneur and I didn’t know about the enmity that some creators like Jack Kirby had for him. At the time he just seemed like the coolest boss in the world and the Marvel bullpen seemed like the greatest place in the world to work. As I got a little bit older, Stan would be the person whose voice I became familiar with as he introduced several of Marvel’s Saturday morning cartoons. He was such a great ambassador for the genre. His enthusiasm rubbed off on me and would lead me to unabashedly spread the word about comics amongst my peers way after they’d lost interest in what they thought was just kids stuff.
My true appreciation for Stan didn’t start until I read Marvel Comics: The Untold Story by Sean Howe. That’s where the complicated nature of his relationships with the other creators that worked with him first came to light for me and also how I started to realize that his role as Marvel’s liaison in Hollywood started to impact his personal style. The glasses and well tailored suits were perfect for making the right impression on Hollywood’s elite and the laid back sweaters he wore to introduce the aforementioned cartoons when I was a child were perfect for conveying the vibe of the kindly old man that was super enthusiastic about the story you were about to watch.
Stan’s style taught me to dress for the statement that you were trying to make when you walked into a room and it also taught me that you should have a signature look. His personal style was very much the same as Marvel’s style of storytelling; give people something different but comfort them by never really changing anything. I do it myself. My glasses are a staple for me. Whether I’m in streetstyle or classic tailoring, my glasses are a constant and in this day and age where every alert on one’s phone can mean certain disaster, constants aren’t so bad. Excelsior!