Stan Lee was an important part of Miya Crummell's childhood. As a young black girl and self-propelled pop culture, she saw that Lee was before her time.
"At that time, he wrote" Black Panther "when segregation was still heavy," says 27-year-old New Yorker, graphic designer and independent cartoon artist. "It was kind of incredible to have a black lead character, no less a title character and not just a secondary sidekick kind of thing."
Crummell spent a lot of the 90's in Marvel Comics. And she felt so indebted to Lee that she waited in line to meet him at a 2012 convention.
"I had a chance to tell him he was my hero," she said. "He affected my entire career path and I have to thank him for that."
Lee, the master and creator behind Marvel's greatest superheroes, died at the age of 95 on Monday.
READ: Stan Lee, Marvel Comics legend, dead at 95
With their comics, it was a big responsibility
As fans celebrate their contributions to the pop culture canon, some have also examined how Lee thought that with his comics it was a great responsibility. The Marvel Wizard used his pen to conquer such real enemies as racism and xenophobia.
Since the 1960s, Lee had advocated tolerance through the only platform he had – the books. It was on the pages he wrote "Stan's Soapbox" columns preaching bigotry and introducing characters of color.
While Marvel's representation of minorities in series has not been without stereotyping hiccups, there is no denial of Lee broadening the image of the super-intriguing super hero.
During Lee, Marvel Comics led a generation of comic book readers to an African prince who rules a mythical and technologically advanced king, a black ex-con whose brown skin rejects bullets and X-Men, a group of heroes whose superpowers are as different as their cultural background.
The works and ideas of Lee and the artists behind T & # 39; Challa, Black Panther; Luke Cage, hero for rent; and Professor Xavier's band of happy mutants – pioneering in the 1960s and 1970s – has become a cultural force that breaks down barriers to integration.
Lee had his fingers in everything that Marvel produced, but some of the characters and lines "came from the artists inspired by what happened in the 1960s," said freelance writer Alex Simmons.
Some distributors are not ready for non-white characters
Nevertheless, there were some driving forces from white series that came to black heroes and characters.
Some bundles of Marvel Comics were sent back because some distributors were not prepared for Black Panther and the phenomenal super-African empire Wakanda developed by the artist and co-author Jack Kirby.
"Stan must take these risks," said Simmons. "There was a liberation movement, and I think Marvel became the voice of the people, bound to the rebellious energy and ride with it."
In 1968, Lee wrote one of his most so-called "Soapbox" kits that call bigotry and racism "the deadliest social diseases that plague the world today".
"But, unlike a team of costumed super-bad guys, they can not be stopped with a snoot or a zap from a headlight," Lee wrote. "The only way to destroy them is to reveal them – to reveal them to the unpleasant evil they really are."
Marvel characters were always at the forefront of dealing with racial and other forms of discrimination, according to Mikhail Lyubansky, who teaches race and ethnicity at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
"The original X Men were less about race and more about cultural differences," Lyubansky said. "Black Panther and some of [Marvel] Movies took the mantle and ran with the rage in ways that I think Stan did not intend to do. But they were a good vehicle for that. "
Black in the background
Some of the efforts to break out minority people have not grown well.
Marvelous characters such as the Fu Manchu-esque badge Mandarin and the Indian hero Wyatt Wingfoot were regarded as groundbreaking in the 60's and 70's, but may appear dated and stereotype when viewed through a 21st lens.
"It's interesting. Stan Lee takes on the credit and the debt, depending on the character," said William Foster III, who helped establish the Australian Coast's Black Age of Comics Convention and is an English professor at Naugatuck Valley Community College in Waterbury, Connecticut.
Foster, who began to read Marvel Comics in the 1960s, said that a reason they complained to him was because they began to include people of color in the background.
"Stan Lee had the attitude" We are in New York City. How may we not have black people in New York City? "Said Foster.
Black began to take the role of heroes and villains. Foster said that some signs may have been seen as "tokenism" but sometimes there must be progress.
It's about the product, not the skin color
For 10 years, the Marvel Cinematic Universe films have just exceeded $ 17.6 billion worldwide. The "Black Panther" film drew more than $ 200 million in its debut weekend earlier this year.
"I had many white friends who grew up," said freelance writer Simmons, who is black. "We looked at" Batman "and we also watched" The Mod Squad. "My personal conviction is that if you put the material in front of people and they get in touch with it, they will connect to it."
To many fans and consumers it is about the product, not the skin's color or sexual orientation, he added.
Crummell, a serialist artist, said she felt that minority and female representation in comic books was being improved.
"I think now they see everyone reading series. It's not a specific group now," said Crummell. "It's not just African-American people-it's women, it's Asian, Latin American characters now. I would credit Stan Lee with breaking the barrier for it. "/ Atm
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