I was just going about my evening workout, as I realised that I wasn’t as up to it as I usually am. Maybe it’s the lethargic advent of winter, or running out of my favourite protein drink, but something was amiss. Then, suddenly, like a bolt from the blue (pun intended), an image popped in my head and I did more pull-ups than I ever thought I could. The image – Thor landing in Wakanda in the last Avengers movie. I know all you comic book puritans are grimacing right now, but the fact remains that Stan Lee did affect people who were not that into comic books, me being one of them.
Growing up, a skinny middle-class Bengali boy in the quiet Kolkata suburbs in the 90s, I didn’t have access to comics. But, my dad being an artist and my mum a teacher, they went out of their way to give my brother and I as diverse an exposure as possible. Back then, you had to go through piles of pre-loved books in dusty old shops to find jewels such as Batman Black & White, and Superman Forever. But, if I stretch the old noggin and go back a few more years, I recall my first ever introduction to comic books with The Amazing Spiderman. Even though it was scripted in Hindi and the paper was terrible, I remember having two copies of that book where Spidey takes on the Green Goblin.
From then, at five years old, I started copying the art of those books. I kept doing that up until I turned eighteen and, to my family’s dismay, started attending art school. Even there, I was doing comic book style pantings that kept landing me in trouble with the teachers as they lacked “academic qualities”. But I said to myself, “Spidey wouldn’t give up.” To this day, I draw and paint, mostly because of those comics. I even got interested in tattoos because of it.
Be it in working out or illustrating or painting, the inspiration I drew from those comics are ever present. Even in the tattoos drawn on me, there are serious comics influences. Now, I know this read a lot like a “me-me-me” but I felt it would be the best way to acknowledge Stan Lee’s contribution to the average Joe. An honest tribute to the man’s incredible power to inspire people who are thousands of miles away. A man who was able to make his mark in these times overpopulated with information; and remain immortalised in our hearts and souls as a godfather of imagination. So, Stan, with this I bid you farewell and thank you for everything you’ve given without knowing or realising.