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Stan Lee was  part of my childhood – and that was 50+ years ago. He brought me more happiness than Disney ever could and the stories in Marvel comics were more important to the development of my moral compass than religion.   Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby were also important.

When I was little, there would always be a rotating comic book rack at every store. The common practice was for my father to go shopping while I sat on the floor reading every comic cover to cover. Every now and then I’d pony up my 15 cents for an issue I really liked, so it wasn’t a complete loss. The store didn’t mind because it acted as a kind of child care center. If they didn’t have comics, the kids would agitate to go shopping somewhere that did.

I always read Marvel first and then DC. DC was distinctly less interesting. Of course adults had little interest in superheroes then. Some believed that they corrupted one’s mind. My collection of Fantastic Four from Dragon Man (#35) thru Galactus  (around #50) disappeared under mysterious circumstances. (So did the copy of Playboy #1 with Marylin Monroe I had found and squirreled away.  Sigh!) I was about 10 that the time.


My mother attacking my comic book collection.

From that I learned that my mother was rummaging thru my room, disposing of what I considered my property and censoring my reading content. When asked about my comics, she lied unconvincingly. I don’t know anything about those pieces of trash and filth!

I guess she figured if she didn’t lie than I’d know how little respect she had for me and thought I was so stupid I wouldn’t realize she was the only one who had means, motive or opportunity. Since I hadn’t mentioned the Playboy, her use of “filth” surely gave it away. And since she didn’t even know about the comics or the Playboy, she had to be rummaging thru my room on pure speculation. Not only that but I’d never been told that comics were forbidden. The comic stand continued to be where my dad still parked me when he was at the store.

I came away from that with a profound respect for a free press, privacy, and property rights. A contempt for liars, thieves, people who impose their moral values on other people. And a realization I had to actively hide things rather than just put them out of sight. It never happened again.

Thank you Stan Lee. Your comics influenced my moral compass directly through your heroes and indirectly through my mother’s actions.