Yup, that up there is me a few years back at Fan Expo where I got to meet Stan Lee… a day I have not forgotten, and surely never will.
It’s not a very long story, really, but it’s one of the more vivid memories I have on hand. I mean why wouldn’t it be? There I was, this young adult finally getting to meet the mastermind behind a large portion of my childhood, not to mention my entire being as a whole.
It was Fan Expo 2014. I’d purchased a package deal that was something along the lines of “Brunch with Stan Lee.” Essentially myself and a hundred or so other people got to go into this conference room where there was coffee and snacks waiting, and then we all got to sit down and have a Q&A with Stan.
You know, I feel like I take this experience for granted sometimes, because the whole small scale Q&A thing sounds pretty baller when you write it down, but anyways-
So we all got seated and in comes Stan.
I’ve seen and met my share of celebrities, and there’s always that awe of actually seeing that person moving and speaking in a completely new and unique way unlike anything I’ve seen nor will again, but there was something about first seeing Stan that was truly magical. There was a marriage of disbelief and anxiety to actually be standing in the same room as this guy, and I think it was something about the environment of this little room as opposed to an enormous convention hall that made it all the more intimate. I feel most people who have had the honor of sharing a similar experience might agree.
Stan then sat down and with a moderator went about answering questions from just about everybody in the room (anybody willing to ask one, I assume, because I’m pretty sure we were all given the opportunity to deliver a question). All the while he was doing this there were people going around the room collecting the items we’d all brought for Stan to autograph so as to save time. It certainly did. I mean, I would’ve loved to have been there with him when he signed my copy of The Amazing Spider-Man #90, but I don’t mind that so much in the end.
What I am always proud to say is that I was the only person in the room that didn’t ask Stan a question about comic books or the characters he’d created. Most of what Stan had to tell us that day was a variation of things we’ve all heard him say in the hundreds of interviews he’s had over the years. My question, however, was about someone we ought to all know he was a fan of, and that was Errol Flynn, simply: “What’s your favorite Errol Flynn movie?”
I myself am a bit of an Errol Flynn fan, and for all his movies my personal favorite is Captain Blood (great book, too!), so when he replied with, “Oh, Errol, what a guy – Captain Blood! Robin Hood! He’s just amazing in everything he does…” (I can’t remember what more he said specifically), I was completely pleased by the fact that he spoke the sea-faring character’s name first.
Once the Q&A was wrapped up we all formed a line and got to take a picture with Stan, as shown above. It was a brief exchange. I got to shake his hand, thank him, to which he simply smiled it off with a “Don’t mention it,” and I was one my more than merry way. All told the whole experience was no more than an hour, but what an impact…
It’s been a year since Stan Lee set off on that great adventure into the unknown. Seriously. A whole year without Stan? Is that even possible? I suppose it is… but for all that gloom, there’s one bright side to it all, and I think it’s that Stan’s legacy has only gotten stronger.
More than ever people recount their love for this man and what he taught them, and carry it with them in the world they tread. I for one hope to uphold the values Stan taught me when I was a kid, passing it off to the next generation and those thereafter. Most of all, I’ll keep on smiling just as Stan did so well. Lord knows we need more smiles.
TL;DR Score: “Never the end.”