This past weekend marked the final New England appearance of the one and only Stan Lee. It took place at Rhode Island Comic Con … and what an appearance it was.
Friday, 11/11 was the first day of the con. I attended the Stan Lee VIP photo op, autograph signing and panel. I guess you could say I’m a fan. (Yes, this panel cost me huge bucks, but it was worth every cent.) About 150 of us headed into a convention hall and waited for him to come out. After about 20 minutes the guest moderator — “Clare Kramer” from Buffy the Vampire Slayer — came out said a few words then introduced the man himself to thunderous applause.
Stan stepped out on stage like he has a thousand times before, but still seemed to have a look of excitement and appreciation for all the people there to see him. He talked for a bit, made some jokes, then asked if everyone was ready to get some photos taken and have some books signed.
After the photos and signing Stan hopped right back on stage and began the Q&A. After about 45 minutes Clare Kramer suddenly stopped the discussion. At first, there was some frustration in the room — that is, until we saw what was next. On cue, out marched — in formation — a representative from every branch of the US military.
They were there to present Stan Lee with a plaque and an American flag in recognition of his service in the U.S. Army during WWII. You could see by the look on his face — even through dark glasses — that he was surprised and honored. After accepting the gifts he turn to the solders on stage saluted and called them all the true heroes, then turned to the crowd, thanked everyone for coming out, and in true Stan Lee fashion threw his fist in the air and yelled the perfect salute to his fans:
On the final day of RI Comic Con, I decided to attend one more Stan Lee panel. This time, it was all about the fans. Each and every artist at the con presented him with a lifetime achievement award. This included heavyweights like Jim Steranko, Roy Thomas, Neal Adams, Joe Sinnott, Mike Zeck, John Beatty … just to name a few.
Allen Bellman, who worked at Marvel with Lee from the beginning, told the story of meeting Stan for the first time and how they have been friends ever since . It was incredible to witness such an awesome display — one that will be with me for the rest of my life.
Here’s just a small example of why (with apologies for the vertical video — one of these days I’ll learn):
This man has, for nearly eight decades, inspired writers and artists, promoting literacy, education and the arts through “The Stan Lee Foundation.” Most of all, he did it to make people happy, creating some of the most iconic characters in the comic book universe.
It was an honor to finally meet him. You, sir are a real life super hero. On behalf of all your fans, “Thank you, Stan Lee. Excelsior!”