Yesterday, I received my copy of the collected Stan's Soapbox from the Hero Initiative*. I cannot tell you how excited I am for this to have arrived. And if you want a look at an inspiration for this Assorted Mitchellany and all it has been, look no further than the Soapbox.
Stan's Soapbox was a column in Marvel Comics written by Stan Lee that ran from May 1967 through August 1980 (hmmh, something special about that particular month). Through the years, 144 entries and musings in the Soapbox; 46,728 words, with only 15 months missed and 1 doubling. The Soapbox was part marketing, part musing, part hokum, and part soapbox. It was the place for Stan to be Stan and to speak directly to the reader.
See, readers of comics knew this Stan. Not just the Stan of cameos, but the Stan that made them feel a part of the club. The Soapbox was where Stan invited you into the clubhouse. That urged you to become a Marvel Zombie, to join the Merry Marching Marvel Society or Friends of Old Marvel. He wrote as if he were speaking directly to you. And for kids that felt that they never fit in at home, at school, in their town, this sense of community was a godsend.
While the Soapbox was most often used to alert readers of new Marvel titles, great Marvel offerings, and the like, it was also Stan's forum to address social issues. To address current events. To speak truth into that idea that doing something simply because it is good and the right thing to do is sufficient. That true super-heroics need no other justification. And that we can be heroic in the world around us.
In the days after his passing, a soapbox that Stan used to speak out against bigotry circulated through various channels. It's a great one and I do suggest checking it out. We need that same sense today and for always.
But I'd like to end with one of my other favorite Soapboxes. On the power of love.
Another reminder why Stan is, and will always be, the Man!
"For many years we've been trying, in our own bumbling way, to illustrate that love is a far greater force, a far greater power than hate. Now we don't mean you're expected to go around like a pirouetting Pollyanna, tossing posies at everyone who passes by, but we do want to make a point. Let's consider three men: Buddha, Christ, and Moses... men of peace, whose thoughts and deeds have influenced countless millions throughout the ages - and whose presence still is felt in every corner of the earth. Buddha, Christ and Moses... men of good will, men of tolerance, and especially men of love. Now, consider the practitioner's of hate who have sullied the pages of history. Who still venerates their words? Where is homage still paid to their memory? What banners still are raised to their cause? The power of love - and the power of hate. Which is truly enduring? When you tend to despair... let the answer sustain you.
* - for fans of popular culture, Marvel, super-heroes, and comic books, the Hero Initiative is a wonderful charitable organization designed to help provide financial aid, emergency medical aid funds, and an avenue back to work to aging and retired comic creators. We can all be a hero to those creators that were our heroes. Check it out at their website here.
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