Listen, it’s not often that I play favorites. I have a ton of comic book creators that I look to for inspiration. I struggled long and hard trying to choose between titans like Jack Kirby, John Buscema, Steve Ditko, Jim Steranko, and Bruce Timm.

But as I gazed at my bookshelf, overflowing with comics, how-to books, and art archives, one name leapt out at me. It adorns the cover of my most cherished book, How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way, the very first how-to book I ever read.

Stan Lee.

How could I forget Stan? At the tender age of 19, Stan became the editor-in-chief of Timely Comics. Timely served up a bevy of comics from westerns to pulp to romance back in the 1940s. That’s a pretty impressive achievement from a fella that got his start fetching coffee and filling inkwells for the artists. You might be wondering why you haven’t heard of Timely Comics – it’s called Marvel Comics today.

Stan can’t draw. He’s a visionary and a writer. He teamed up with some of the best artists to ever put a pencil to the page. During the Golden Age of comics, this man gave us the “Flawed Hero” concept. That seems commonplace today, but in the 1960s, that was unheard-of.

Heroes used to be perfect. Stan felt people couldn’t connect to that, so he gave them a kernel of humanity. His heroes all lived in real cities like New York City instead of Metropolis. He used comics to confront issues like racism and drug abuse.

Today, the industry has completely rebuilt itself to emulate the creations of Stan Lee. Maybe you’ve heard of a few of them: Spider-Man, Iron Man, the Fantastic Four, Dr. Doom, Dr. Strange, the Incredible Hulk, Thor, the Avengers, the X-Men, the Inhumans, Daredevil, and the list just keeps going.

Stan Lee simply did things his way, and that’s why he’s my design inspiration this month.

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