I saw this Tweet:
— GeekTyrant (@GeekTyrant) November 19, 2018
This is apparently what Bill Maher said:
“The guy who created Spider-Man and the Hulk has died, and America is in mourning. Deep, deep morning for a man who inspired millions to, I don’t know, watch a movie, I guess. Someone on Reddit posted, ‘I’m so incredibly grateful I lived in a world that included Stan Lee.’
“Personally, I’m grateful I lived in a world that included oxygen and trees, but to each his own. Now, I have nothing against comic books – I read them now and then when I was a kid and I was all out of Hardy Boys. But the assumption everyone had back then, both the adults and the kids, was that comics were for kids, and when you grew up you moved on to big-boy books without the pictures.”
Just like virtually everything else he opines on, Bill Maher is wrong.
I’m going to take a different approach to explaining why Bill Maher is wrong.
There are many people who can opine a great length why comic books are great literature.
There are many more who can explain why what we consider great works of literature today were just pop culture garbage when they came out, i.e., the works of the Bronte Sisters. As much as we study Shakespeare today, he was the Michael Bay of his era.
The truth is, I was never a comic book fan. Really. Trying to read something panel by panel gives me a headache.
I have a great deal of respect for Stan Lee. He was one of a few nerdy Jewish kids from New York, born in the early 20th Century who had a titanic impact on American pop culture. Stan Lee (Stanley Leiber), Jack Kirby (Jacob Kurtzberg), and Joe Simon (Hymie Simon) shaped the imaginations of literally generations of American boys.
But that isn’t why Bill Maher is wrong.
Stan Lee created Spider-Man, the X-Men, Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, Black Panther, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, and Ant-Man. Pretty much every Avenger except Captain America (who was created by the aforementioned Kirby and Simon).
Just look at the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Alone it has grossed more than $17.5 BILLION. The X-Men franchise grossed another $5.7 BILLION.
Think about all the jobs created, people employed, and economic growth that came from just the movies made based on characters created from the mind of one man.
To put it bluntly, Stan Lee’s doodles created more wealth than the GDP of Iceland, in movie ticket sales alone.
I can’t find a total value of all the Marvel comics based on Stan Lee characters sold in the last 40 years, then add in action figures and merchandise and the total has to at least double.
Bill Maher can crap all over comics as just picture books for kids, but Stan Lee’s imagination has to be worth over $50 Billion. Bill Maher is just envious of the fact that he will never amount to that level of influence and importance.