Excelsior! A tribute to Stan Lee

“You know, my motto is ‘Excelsior.’ That’s an old word that means ‘upward and onward to greater glory.’ … Keep moving forward, and if it’s time to go, it’s time. Nothing lasts forever.”

– Stan Lee

Stan Lee
Stan Lee at the Phoenix Comicon in Phoenix, Arizona, 2011. Image by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0

It was with great sadness that I read that comic-book legend Stan Lee passed away on Monday 12 November, at the age of 95. As a huge Marvel fan, I grew up with a (not so mild) obsession with the X-Men, and Stan Lee’s passing came as a sad blow, despite his age. Stan inspired so many with his amazing sense of humour, and his relatable creations that pushed the boundaries and redefined pop-culture.

Born Stanley Martin Lieber in 1922, Lee was a comic-book editor, publisher, and writer whose prolific career spanned more than seven decades. Starting his comics career in 1939, Lee’s big break came in 1950, when he was tasked with creating a new team of superheroes following DC comics revamping of the Flash. Enter Lee’s first creation – the Fantastic Four.

Photo of Stan Lee display at Tūranga
Stan Lee display at Tūranga

The Fantastic Four were followed by many more immensely popular superheroes, like the incredible Hulk, the X-Men, Spider-Man, Thor, and Black Panther. Lee’s characters and writing revolutionised superhero comics, which were previously aimed at children and preteens, by diversifying characters and content. Despite having amazing superpowers, Lee’s characters are also undeniably human, with human flaws and vulnerabilities.

If you’re looking for an entertaining read that gives some more insight into Stan Lee’s colourful life and career, I’d highly recommend flicking through Lee’s autobiography, Amazing Fantastic Incredible. Presented in graphic novel format, this book is as colourful as the author, and uses his trademark sense of humour to present key points in his life.

Stan Lee’s contribution to pop-culture and graphic novels can’t be understated. As mentioned in his autobiography, he “put the human in superhuman” and is one of the most legendary names in graphic novel history. He will be greatly missed, but will never cease to inspire others to create. His legacy lives on in his creations, and in the hearts of his fans.

Visit the online Stan Lee Memorial Wall, where fans across the globe can pay tribute to this beloved creator. #Excelsior

Christchurch City Libraries has a wide variety of works by Stan Lee and Marvel that make for amazing reads (and re-reads).

Stan Lee

List created by ReneeJ49

A tribute to late comic book legend, Stan Lee. Here we have a small selection of works and characters he either created or co-created, as well as their accompanying films (which he often cameos in).

Cover of Amazing, fantastic, incredibleAmazing Fantastic Incredible – One of Stan Lee’s autobiographies, this book is a fantastic (incredible) way of learning some more about this artist’s journey, from filling inkwells to becoming one of the most influential comic creators of our time. Amazing Fantastic Incredible

The Amazing Spider-Man – A list of Stan Lee creations is not complete without Spider-Man, who remains one of his most popular characters. Action-packed, relatable , and hilariously witty, Spider-Man is a definite must-read for Stan Lee fans.

Cover of Black Panther: The complete collectionBlack Panther – Stan Lee’s Black Panther is another example of Lee’s influence on comics, as T’Challa (the Black Panther) was the first superhero of colour to appear in mainstream comics. The comic’s popularity has continued with Black Panther’s appearance in Captain America: Civil War in 2016, and the 2018 Black Panther film.

Extraordinary X-Men – A particular favourite of mine, Stan Lee’s X-Men showcases the diversity and humanization that Lee brought to superheroes. The colourful, creative and humanly flawed mutants have since featured in various books, TV series, and films since 1963.

Cover of The mighty ThorThe Mighty Thor – Thor is one of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s non-human superheroes, inspired by the Norse god of thunder.

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Renée, Library Assistant
Tūranga

Cosplay and Comics at Papanui Library

Love reading and drawing your own comics? Do you want help with your drawing, assistance with your technique and tips on comics, publishing etc and a free comic? All of this for no charge? Right then get yourself signed up for our free comic drawing workshop at Papanui Library with Spencer Hall, artist/cartoonist. The workshop is for ages 12-18, registered attendees only and a limit of 30. We won’t let you go hungry either, there will be pizzas from Hell.

comic book day posterThere was a waiting list of disappointed young cartoonists last year so don’t delay, break out the light sabers, shake out those capes, slap on the face paint and come dressed as your favourite comic book/Manga character and be in for a prize.

International Free Comic Book Day is on Saturday 7 May this year but our event, which will include free comics courtesy of Comics Compulsion, will be on Saturday 21 May.

The selection of free comics this year ranges from Dark Horse to Archie to Strawberry Shortcake to Titan’s Assassins Creed to Love and Rockets. Something for all tastes.

To see what you might be missing check out last year’s pictures.

Meanwhile back at the library our comic book collection grows apace. We have comic books about Men who dress as Bats, Women as Cats, Green Men, muscly men, and animals that talk, Bart Simpson and Adventures, Mysteries, Funnies, Scareys, the lot. I was delighted to see Scrooge McDuck, nephew Donald and the Beagle Boys make a comeback in hard cover. Made me quite nostalgic for my young reading self.

Locked and loaded for the Zombie Apocalypse

Cover of Zombie SurvivalIt’s Zombie Awareness Month. Do you know where your cricket bat/lawnmower/blunt object of choice is?

No, but seriously, it IS zombie awareness month. What’s more, it’s nearly over and I haven’t even revised my evacuation plan or topped up the first aid kit in case of the Zombie Apocalypse. I deserve to get my brains munched, frankly.

But fear not! For your library is practically overflowing with zombie-related reading and viewing. So here are my picks of the best of the shambling undead.

Watch

Better check out some fight sequences and bone up on your best zombie combat moves –

  • The Walking Dead – We’re between seasons with everyone’s favourite zombie horror TV series, but why not got back and rewatch the first season before Rick went feral and facial hair took over his face? You know, back when the post-apocalyptic world was a kinder, gentler, better groomed place.
  • Warm BodiesCover of Warm bodies – A zombie as a romantic lead? Seems a bit unlikely but that’s the premise of this film starring Nicholas Hoult of TV show Skins.
  • World War Z – Where the zombies are fast and really good at climbing, the little monkeys. But are they a match for Brad Pitt in “action” mode? Well, they give it a good try at least…
  • I am Legend – Not technically zombies because they’re not dead (much like the ones in World War Z) but if you spend time quibbling about such distinctions during the apocalypse you’ll likely become someone’s afternoon tea, so just enjoy the ride (and make note of Will Smith’s survival skills and strategies).
  • Shaun of the dead (we’ve got this as a double-DVD combo with Hot Fuzz). Just the rom-zom-com to lighten the mood a touch.

Read

Board up the windows and hunker down with some reading material –

Make

No actual zombies around just at the moment? Make your own with the following crafty titles –

I think you’ll agree that’s plenty to be getting on with, but if you’ve got an hot tips for zombie reading or preparedness please do make suggestions.

Hey Kids… Comic Books!!

With the Armageddon Expo coming to Christchurch on the 26th and 27th, what better time to have a weedaredevil rave about what is (along with mills & boon romance novels) surely one of the most underrated and often ignored literary forms… the super-hero comic book. Sure, there is a lot that’s best avoided unless you’re a teenage male with a fascination for spandex clad bodies, but here are some essentials from our library catalogue you really should give a try.

The comic book (since a recent interview I read with Ed Norton about his role on the upcoming Incredible Hulk movie I’ve sworn off using the g word) that has kept my faith in the genre in recent years has been Daredevil. Wipe your mind of the terrible movie from a few years ago, this is one of the best titles on the comic book racks today. Take your favorite Scorcese gangster flick, throw in blind superhero Daredevil (and the occasional supervillain) and you’re close to why this title works so well.

One of the most creative writers in comics today is Grant Morrison. Almost anything penned by Morrison is comic book gold. Try his run on X-Men or his current reinvention of the big blue in All-Star Superman.  Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon has been doing epic sci-fi adventuresomeness* with the X-Men recently also.

Currently being made into a Hollywood blockbuster is the ‘unfilmable’ Watchmen by comic deity Alan Moore. On its publication 20 years ago this book turned the comic book world on its head and proved that comics could be ‘real literature’ too.

Comics without pictures… hmm? Austin Grossman’s novel Soon I Will Be Invincible follows the triumphs and downfalls of evil genius (and wannabe world dominator) Doctor Impossible. Superhero novels (hey! where are the pretty pictures) are usually doomed to failure in what is essentially a visual medium but Grossman’s mix of humour and pathos really clicks in this unique first novel.

There you go, a few starting points for anyone wanting to sample this multi-coloured world of diabolical schemes and utility belts. Hopefully, you’ll be hooked (and I’ll have someone else to talk to about Matt Murdock and his latest run-in with Mr Fear).

*it’s in my dictionary