After the death of Stan Lee last week, hard-core fans joined the world at large to celebrate the accomplishments and mourn the passing of the charismatic, larger-than-life figure. More than any other creator, Stan Lee embodied the fun of comics, and specifically Marvel comics.
Eulogies and retrospectives were everywhere you turned. Stan Lee was featured on TV, Radio and social media outlets. Those big things that marketing people call “outdoor media” but that the rest of the world calls “billboards” featured Stan Lee. Even the local video store (yes, some video stores still operate in Central New York State) got into the act with a tribute.
The Romans had a saying: De mortuis nil nisi bonum, that’s still use today, adapted as the admonishment: “Don’t speak ill of the dead.” As a society we generally adhere to this axiom in polite circles.
That’s why I was especially surprised last week when Joshua Johnson, the radio/podcast host of NPR’s 1A, asked his guests about a controversial part of Stan Lee’s story. Many fans feel that Lee self-aggrandized himself to the detriment of his co-creators. Such fans categorize Lee’s actions as shameful, especially considering the riches he earned while so many of his Marvel collaborators struggled financially.
Many comic lovers felt left out of last week’s celebrations, buttoning their lips and resisting their urges to speak ill of Lee, despite their intense frustrations and inner need to set the record straight. Continue reading “With Further Ado #016: De Mortuis Nil Nisi Bonum”