What a Marvel!

Legendary comic book creator Stan Lee passed away in California on November 12. Over his long career, the 95-year-old artist elevated Marvel Comics heroes like Iron Man and Spider Man to superstar status.

His loss is also felt in Jamaica, where he had many fans.

“The world has lost a great pioneer in the comic book field and I am personally deeply saddened by the loss. I know comic book creators are all in mourning at this time. I’m hopeful that creators in the field will be inspired by the legacy that he has left behind and strive to push the boundaries of the medium as Stan Lee has,” Henry Grandison, creator of local comic Maroonblack, told the Observer.

The St Mary-born, Kingston-based Grandison said he grew up reading Marvel Comics. However, eight years ago he decided to go full-time with the Maroonblack series with his wife, Racquel.

“Stan Lee and his Spiderman comics specifically played a huge influence in my comic book creations. Spiderman used an actual setting — New York City — and I use Jamaican settings in my webcomic Maroonblack. Stan Lee has created well-developed characters and I strive to do as well,” Grandson explained. “I connected deeply to a lot of Stan Lee characters based on how they were presented and their stories. Stan Lee created three-dimensional characters in the sense of their motives and how they view life. I strive to do [that] each time as well.”

An ancestor of Maroons, Maroonblack is a Jamaican, modern-day crime-fighter with superpowers.

Andrew Francis — another member of the small Jamaican comic book community — echoes Grandison’s sentiments.

“His passing has come when he has been at his highest level of achievement. Movies about his characters dominate the film industry at this time. I foresee a lot of gatherings in honour of him, as well as a push into diversity of characters, which he championed,” said Francis, creator of The Cat comics. He entered the field in 1994 with Lee as his inspiration.

“In the true tradition of copies, The Cat was my Jamaican copy of The Black Panther. I had a series of super heroes, influenced by various groups of heroes seen on TV. The cat stood out to my father as he always asked about him, so I stuck with him, even as I outgrew the other characters,” said Francis, who hails from Kingston.

The Cat, also a Jamaican crimefighter, is a martial artist who gets his abilities enhanced through science.

Lee began his career in the 1940s. In collaboration with Marvel co-writer/artists like Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, he co-created numerous characters including Spider Man, The X-Men, Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Hulk, The Fantastic Four, Black Panther, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, and Ant-Man.

Hollywood has produced several blockbuster movies based on Lee’s creations. Black Panther made a record US$688,009,489 at the box office this year. The Avengers, Iron Man and Spider Man franchises and Captain America: Civil War also registered big numbers.