Why Stan Lee’s Death Matters

Yesterday, comic book creator extraordinaire Stan Lee passed away at the age of 95.

I met Stan Lee once.  It was at the 1992 San Diego Comic-Con.  He was hanging out with Spider-Man and I got to introduce myself and tell him how much a fan I was.  Something he must have heard millions of times in his long career in comic books.  For many, Stan Lee was Marvel.  But for me, Stan was a creator.  Along with Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, he created characters and storylines that will never be repeated.

The first time I ever heard of Stan Lee was 1977.  I just began collecting comics.  For me, they were an escape.  My favorite was Spider-Man.  Followed by the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, the X-Men, the Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and all the rest.  Stan created all of them.  He was the writer who put the words behind the pictures.

The face of Marvel comics was present in everything you see in the Marvel movies.  For me, he was a presence in my education foundation.  You see, I didn’t read many books as a kid.  I read comics.  Tons of them!  How many kids really got into reading because of Stan’s words?  The number is probably higher than any of us can imagine.

Some of us are visual thinkers.  I know I am.  I see pictures in my minds and words form out of them.  A comic book is the same thing but seen in physical form.  Stan took that already existing format and rewrote the rules.  He created characters that will live long past his 95 year-old life.

Stan wasn’t without controversy in his life.  The artist of many of his creations, Jack Kirby, fought long and hard to get his original art back.  It was something that was never fixed by the time he died in 1994.  Steve Ditko, the artist of The Amazing Spider-Man and Doctor Strange, had a frosty relationship with Stan.  Stan’s finances at the end were a hot mess as vultures took advantage of him.

I choose to remember the Stan Lee who kept fans guessing for 25 issues on the identity of the Green Goblin.  The guy who created the concept of mutants and tackled issues of discrimination.  The man who said screw it to the Comics Code Authority, the authoritarian censorship association, and showed the very real results of drug use in Amazing Spider-Man #96-98.  The writer who wasn’t afraid to create African-American characters, like the Black Panther.  The creator who turned the team concept into something to be modeled for generations to come in the form of the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, and the X-Men.  Stan even used disabilities as the basis of a character in the form of the blind Daredevil.  For Stan, it wasn’t the costume but the person that was behind the costume.  It was the character that mattered, not the powers.  It was how they used those powers for the common good.  Before Stan, it was the hero first and the person second.

Like I said, my favorite was always Spider-Man.  His Peter Parker was a bullied teenager who never quite fit in.  His tagline of “with great power there must also come great responsibility” showed the inner and constant battle Parker faced on a daily basis.  It is the heart of a hero.  The ironic part is I loathe spiders but Spidey was my favorite.  But I digress.  Spider-Man is the story of every single awkward teenager who just wants to belong and fit in.  I remember buying these paperback reprint editions of Amazing Fantasy #15 and Amazing Spider-Man #1-20.  There were three of them.  I think I still have one of them packed away somewhere.  This was the gold of my childhood.  There was also a trade paperback called “Origins of Marvel Comics” which showcased the first appearances and origins of many of Stan’s creations.  These stories were the foundation of Marvel Comics.

Comic books taught me a lot.  The most important was to always try to do the right thing.  Yes, we fail miserably at that concept in all our lives.  None of us are perfect.  But if that is your cornerstone, your life as a human being will be better for it.  Sometimes the right thing comes at great personal sacrifice.  And it hurts.  But you have to keep going, keep plugging along.  That was Stan Lee’s legacy for me.  Rest in peace Stan.  You are joining all the other comic book greats that passed before you and paving the way for those to come.

‘Nuff said.

Summer & Fall 2018 Preview: Movies, Music, TV, & Comic Books

Summer is here!  And there is a ton of great stuff coming out the rest of this year!  Music, Movies, TV, and even comic books!  Release dates as well! Continue reading

Books I’ve Read

While rearranging the placement of some books at my house, I realized I’ve read a ton of books over the years.  This list will not be complete by any stretch of the imagination.  These are actual books, and not comic books or graphic novels.  I see those as a distinctively different kind of “book”.  I do a lot of reading when I’m not blogging, working, doing chores, spending time with my son, or doing whatever.  I wish there were 48 hours in a day and I still only needed seven hours sleep! Continue reading

Intermission

If you may have noticed, I haven’t been writing as much lately.  I’ve been on an intermission of sorts.  Life stuff.  And fun stuff (for me at least).  I’ve been catching up on some reading and listening to a lot of music.  Things I used to do a lot before I started blogging.  I just need to wind down at times.  I’ve pretty much been on the go for over two years with education and I really don’t want to burn out.  So I’m taking some time off.  I’ll still try to get some stuff up everyday, but nothing to in-depth.  Unless something big comes my way.  Then I will get that up fast!

My wife and I cleaned out our garage today.  My car was filled with stuff we donated to Good Will.  I had to clean out my gutters when I saw weeds growing out of them in a couple of areas.  While I was doing that, a wicked wind blew green leaves all over the place.  I thought I might lose some trees on the edge of our property, but walnuts are very sturdy.

TV winds down for me in the summer.  Only a few shows I’m watching now: Game of Thrones, Preacher and Outcast.  The season finale of The Americans is on tonight.  I will definitely be watching that!  Like those who watch it, I think it is one of the best shows on TV now.  Having lived through the 1980s it is very spot-on with the rendition of the early part of that decade.  They even had a bunch of characters watching “The Day After” in one episode this season.  Kids today don’t live with nuclear threats like I did when I was a kid/teenager.  That movie scared the crap out of millions of Americans.  It came out in 1983 on a Sunday night.  I’ve watched it a few times since.

I was listening to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons earlier today.  The Summer trio are my favorite.  Highs and lows, with a crashing crescendo at the end!  Then I vegged out to some Imagine Dragons and later a band you’ve most likely forgotten about or never heard of called Gene Loves Jezebel.

I’m just blabbing here, about nothing specific.  My son has been watching Arrow and telling me all about it.  I’m a huge Flash fan, but I’ve been stuck on the first season of Arrow for a couple of years.  If you haven’t guessed, I’m a huge comic book fan.  In terms of shows and movies, Marvel gets the movies right and DC does really well with the tv shows.  I still haven’t seen Captain America: Civil War yet.  It is on my soon-to-do list.  Along with a million other things.

I’m kind of at a transition point.  My son is exactly where he needs to be with education.  His battles are a thing of the past for the most part so much my anger is fading.  That doesn’t mean I don’t care about education overall, I just don’t have that immediate connection to it I used to have.  I’ll still do the research and the digging and the listening.  But I am really trying to leave emotion out of it.  If anything, I’ve gotten more sarcastic with my writing.  I’ve been involved with this mess in Delaware so long and so intensely, nothing really shocks me much anymore.  But we are entering unchartered territory with Jack leaving next year and the upcoming elections.  At the time of this writing, Hillary is the Democrat nominee and Donald is the Republican.  I really can’t stand them both.  I was really rooting for Bernie, but his age concerned me a lot.  I don’t like the fact that both the frontrunners are two people who I’ve heard about for over twenty years and neither of them ever impressed me.  It’s kind of depressing actually.  I will fully admit it is very hard for me to not want to blast certain people involved in education.  I see them doing some of the same things over and over.  But it’s the everyday people I’m sometimes hard on, and I’m starting to feel bad about that.  My intention isn’t to hurt anyone.  I’ve always figured if you are going to attend meetings about education you are most likely a public person.  Even if they are “secret” or non-public meetings.  I know I upset a couple of people two weeks ago and I feel bad about that.  I’m going to try to be nicer to people on here.   I know, I’ve said that before and then two weeks later I was cussing out some folks.  When I have posts like that, I’m not going to publish them right away.  Sometimes the best thing to do is sleep on it and not go by the moment.

Alright, enough out of me.  For those reading this, I’m sure this was not the kind of post you wanted to read.  Everyone always loves the scoop (or the supposed scoop).  But even bloggers need a time out once in a while!

What If Delaware Education Became A Comic Book Series?

In a world gone mad, what if education in Delaware became a series of comic books?  What would we see?  Read into this bizarre alternate universe!

B.A.T. Men #42, Written by Mike Matthews, Art by Jackie Kook

Last issue, our heroes faced down the T.L.E.U. in a fight to the finish.  But what price was paid by one of our stalwart heroes?  And which B.A.T. is scheduled to meet with the Governor?

Dr. H & The Agents of R.O.D.E.L. #23, Written by Paul Herdman, Art by Fred Sears III

When a new contract comes up at the DOE, Dr. H must get to Dover right away to make sure his agents are the ones at the start of the line.  But they must get threw an onslaught of other vendors.  Who will win “The Race”?

Mark Murphy: The Secretary #84 (Last Issue), Written and Drawn by Alison May

In this final issue, Mark Murphy must face his last days as The Secretary.  What is the final straw that makes him resign?  Guest starring the Governor, Dr. H, and the mysterious W.E.A.C.

The Board #100, written by John Young, art by Elizabeth Paige

Having successfully fended off the DOE from the Initiative, the Board must face their next villain, and it is a doozy!  Meanwhile, what has St. George done now?  The ramifications of this one will last for years to come.  In a side story, John Young and Captain Kendall from The Network come face to face at The Forum.

The Governor #0, written by Lindsey O’Mara, art by Ryan Fennerty

In this special issue, find out how Jack Markell became the Governor!  With special guest stars Dr. H, Kilroy, and Lillian.  This prelude leads into the upcoming Ed Wars, the summer block-buster that will decide the fate of education in Delaware once and for all!

The Union #64, written by F. Jenner, art by Mike Kempski

Now that the resolution has passed, our heroes are faced with the day after tomorrow.  The Secretary has thrown the resolution back in their face, and the Governor has told them they must stand down.  Introducing the new group, Standards That Matter.

The Network #58, written by K. Massett, art by Charles McDowell

Last issue, the President took a hiatus from the group.  Who will replace him?  As pressure mounts from all sides, who will be left to face The Auditor?

Opt Out Kids #1, written by Kevin Ohlandt, art by Terri Hodges

In this brand new series, spinning out of HB #50, this group of renegades must find something to do with their hours in school while all the other kids are testing.  Will this force of nature be for the betterment of mankind, or a sign of the apocalypse?  Meanwhile, Jaques has created his squad of Measure Uppers, and he is hunting the Opt Out Kids one by one.

General Assembly #148, written by John Kowalko, art by Kim Williams

The battle-lines are drawn, and one side must face their friends and enemies as the last day of The Session looms closer.  With parents screaming for change, and the DOE putting pressure on the chamber, what will the Heroes of Education do?  And will the Governor make a last-ditch effort to stop The Bills?  This crucial issue also ties in to Ed Wars #1.

The Human Capital Gambit #8, written by Chris Ruszkowski, art by M. Watson

As the sinister T.L.E.U. launches their next wave of humiliation on the unsuspecting teachers, Chris has a lunch date with an enigmatic figure.  What affect will this have on the leader of the T.L.E.U.  This story is one we could only call “The Haircut”.

Charterville #19, written by Penny Schwinn, art by Donna Johnson

The aftermath of The Audit continues to destroy the Individuals.  Will they be able to unite, or will they fall before KIPP?  And why is W.E.A.C. closing in on the endgame?  In a bonus story, see the reactions of the group when they realize they now have to legally record their board meetings.

The D.O.E. #225, written by David Blowman, art by Catherine Hickey

This one is so shocking we can’t give any details.  All we can say is it spins out of the last page of The Secretary #84 and leads into Ed Wars #1.  Find out the secret in “The Replacement”.