November 13, 2018

Co-creator of Marvel Comics, Stan Lee, died at age 95


The former editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics Stan Lee has died at the age of 95, reported by TMZ on November 12, 2018. 

Lee changed the world of comic books and publishing, penned as the principal creator of timeless characters like Spider-Man, Black Panther, Hulk, Magneto, and the Fantastic Four. Lee died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after having been rushed in an ambulance; he had been suffering from medical issues in recent past, including pneumonia.

Stan Lee inspired generations of readers. The worlds he designed helped develop the imaginations of countless writers. He leaves behind a legacy as large as his infectious personality. Lee’s mastery of retaining inspiration and creativity writers can learn from. Here are some pieces of advice from Stan Lee himself to keep in our minds the same way we will keep his smile in our hearts.

1. Write what you want to read.

A true mainstay but so often lost in the effort, Stan Lee suggested that “if you write something that pleases yourself, it can be genuine.” If you’re writing something half-hearted, dialing in elements to please an audience but not feeling it yourself, you will find that the piece won’t shine like a prism.

2. Be aware of the world, but don’t let it determine your story.

Certainly, a writer “has to be aware of what’s going around him” but Lee suggests that part of being aware is also knowing how to write something that is interesting while at the same time being informed. There’s a responsibility that a writer must uphold, and that’s to have their story still resonate. The interest informs your awareness.

3. Don’t write for popularity.

No matter what, there’ll only be a small percentage of people that share and match up perfectly with your likes, so there’s “no reason to feel like you need to write what’s popular or trending.” A textbook and recurring piece of advice for Lee is to use your own interests and enthusiasm as the barometer and means of judgment, not the world or the trends around you.

4. The specifics of your characters help them shine.

Instead of trying to view your character as “different” and “unique,” try focusing on what sets them apart from the mold. Because your character will most definitely fit some preexisting archetype. Lee looked less at characters as “unique” and more so at the specific qualities of the character that helps them stand out. An example, Lee made a lawyer character–and there are plenty of those–but what he did to set him apart was make him blind and have him hunt people who escaped justice. Lee focused in not on making a character vastly different from a lawyer but instead as a lawyer who’s specific foibles become the reason for their transformation.

5. Conflict is king.

The last piece of advice is like the first, a basic principle that gets lost in the mix, not necessarily forgotten but rather underplayed by writers. The idea of conflict–and a clearly defined one at that–Lee offers as the best way to give a story some propulsive force. If there’s no clearly defined conflict from the onset, the story becomes murky, and who wants that?




Michael Seidlinger is the Library and Academic Marketing Manager at Melville House.