Happy Birthday, Stan Lee!

Picture it: 1982, Detroit, east side. My five-year-old self goes to visit my twin cousin La Toya and her older brother, Cedrick. While this isn’t my first visit, it was one that impacted my life forever.

Toya & Me. I'm the moron with the balloons in her face.
Toya & Me. I’m the moron with the balloons in her face.

You see, Cedrick was a black comic book geek. At 5, my life was all cartoons, Barbies, and G.I. Joes (yeah, I was different even back then), so I don’t know if it was as uncool back then to be a black comic book geek as it is now. When Cedrick introduced me to this, it didn’t even matter:


Those were comic book characters who looked like ME. They had AMAZING super powers. AND…there were cuss words in this book (btw, my mom taught me to read at age 3. Nothing amazing about that, she did it out of laziness). Gazing over the panels, I saw a familiar name: Lee.

“Cedrick, is that your dad?” I asked. See, Cedrick had a different dad than Toya, so Ced’s last name was Lee rather than Wilson, our family name. He laughed at me and told me no. At the time, I didn’t see this as too much of a leap, because Cedrick could DRAW HIS ASS OFF. I didn’t realize then that that meant nothing, not only because Ced was black and Stan is white, but also because Stan wasn’t the artist (also, his real last name isn’t Lee). At any rate, my love for comic books began because of this graphic novel:


My involvement with comic books has waxed and waned in the 30 years since this encounter, and when I do pick up a comic book, they’re rarely of the superhero variety – I tend to enjoy those that depict human beings of unexceptional abilities overcoming exceptional circumstances (Infinite Vacation, Severed, and of course The Walking Dead). Regardless, the escapism the medium affords me is invaluable, and I owe it all to Stan Lee. So please join me in raising a glass as we celebrate the 90th birthday of one amazing man. Happy Birthday, Generalissimo!