Stan Lee remains pretty steadfastly in the limelight these days, as the unofficial face of Marvel Comics. And with good reason, as “The Man” has been part of the comic-book publishing company for nearly an astounding 80 years.
While all of Lee’s recent press hasn’t been the best kind – specifically, the recent allegations of sexual misconduct from multiple former nurses – there’s no doubt that he has left an indelible mark on the comic industry. Todd McFarlane, creator of the Image Comics character Spawn as well as being a Marvel Comics artist in the 1980s and 1990s, recently spoke in an interview about some of the flak Lee takes for Marvel’s famed spats with some of its creative types, most notoriously long-time artist Jack Kirby:
“Stan is just one of the cogs that was in the system back then and I don’t think it’s right for us to be looking at the creative people against each other as the bad guys. Whether Stan stood up for Jack, I don’t know what his position was when the fight was going down for the original artwork. But Stan doesn’t own any of those characters any more that Jack Kirby did or I did or anybody else so it’s not like he’s the CEO of the corporation. And at some point he’s become an ambassador. I think one of the things that’s hurting Stan, which may be an odd comment that I’m about to make, is that he’s lived so long. And so, all those people he’s worked with… that vast majority has passed away. So what they see is Stan now gets a lot of the limelight of it.
“There’s people that are going ‘well, why is he getting the limelight and the other guy didn’t,’ well, they’re just physically not here to share the limelight and I think that Stan understands it. Maybe he didn’t at some point — I don’t know — but he does now that it’s a light to be shared with others. And people go ‘ah the creator of Spider-Man’ and he’s the first to correct that. ‘No, no, I co-created, right, with some very good artists and stuff.’ But they’re not around for him to share. He’s this ambassador that has just outlived everybody else.”
McFarlane makes a valid point, to be sure. Here’s a video of McFarlane’s interview, which features more insights and conversation.