What Marvel’s Stan Lee Meant To Me By Black Veil Brides’ Andy Biersack
On Monday, November 12, news broke of the tragic passing of Stan Lee, Marvel Comics icon and co-creator of characters like Spider-Man, the X-Men and Black Panther. The knowledge of Stan’s death touched many in rock, with the likes of Bring Me The Horizon, Rob Zombie and KISS all paying their respects to a giant of the entertainment world.
Andy Biersack, too, was moved by the sad news, with the Black Veil Brides/Andy Black man posting a tribute on his Twitter feed where he acknowledged Stan’s creation of “some of the most iconic and influential characters in the American literary canon.” Andy himself is a man heavily invested in the world of comic books, both as a fan and creator of upcoming graphic novel, The Ghost Of Ohio. Here, he pays tribute to Stan Lee and the legacy he leaves, and details how, without the creation of Marvel’s “emotionally driven and inherently flawed” characters, the world of comic books wouldn’t be the same…
“Comic books are one of the true American art forms: we have comics, rock’n’roll and fast-food! Comics developed at a time when they were very much needed in our culture; in the early days of comic books, there was so much war, political unrest and financial uncertainty around, and comics provided that aspiration to get away from those situations. The early Marvel stuff reflects that, and Stan Lee was a person who created and designed characters who aren’t just figures in the realm of comics, but are part of the wider literary canon of America. These characters are substantial in terms of people’s understanding of the world. For my generation and those that have come after, the Marvel characters have been important in our formative years and how we understand right from wrong. Comics were huge for me in that regard.
“Stan Lee was also a person who stood for positive values. When the Comic Books Code was introduced in the 20th Century, it tried to ensure that comics weren’t ‘infecting the minds’ of the youth. This was something that forbid writers to do anything even remotely creative, and Stan Lee took a stand against it. He rebelled and said that you should be able to show kids these circumstances so that they have a better understanding of the world going into adulthood. It’s impossible to quantify the impact Stan Lee had as a creator on every level of pop culture.
“There’s not much around the area where I grew up apart from fast-food restaurants, but there was a little comic book store down the street from where my gran lived. I used to go there with my dad when he got home from work and we’d pick up comic books: Batman, Iron Man, Spider-Man… all these characters were so important to me. As a child, I wasn’t hugely social, I didn’t have much in common with people and I just wanted to exist in my own world – comics represented an opportunity for me to do that. That’s the thing about the Marvel characters: unlike DC – and obviously, I love Batman and the DC characters – the Marvel heroes are all inherently flawed and emotional. Spider-Man is a kid who’s awkward and going through the trauma of being a teenager, while at the same time trying to be a superhero. The Marvel characters have a lot of emotional elements, and maybe that’s why so many people loved Stan Lee – he spoke to people in their youth in a way that didn’t feel like it was pandering or talking down to them.
“There are loads of people who themselves were influenced by Stan Lee who now inspire me, as well as Stan himself, of course. It would be impossible to create an emotionally-driven comic book character in 2018 without being influenced in some way by the work he did. In 2013, I watched a documentary about him, and he was talking about how new projects were his key to happiness – he created problems for himself to solve, and that kept him on the right track in life. At that time, I wasn’t thinking that way: I was going on tour, getting drunk and coasting through life, and watching that documentary about Stan had a huge effect on me. It made me realise that if I had the ability to do all these different things, why wasn’t I doing them? Stan Lee had a big emotional impact on my life, which is a crazy thing to say about a person I never even met and didn’t know personally.”
Words: Jake Richardson