By Cass Teague
Growing up in the 1960s, I loved reading comic books. There was something special about Marvel Comics that set them apart from the others. They had characters who had real-life issues and problems, unlike most of the others. Marvel Comics had a special ‘something’ that was reminiscent of great science fiction = the use of fantasy characters to reflect real-life concerns and situations. That special ‘something’ was the input and leadership of the one and only Stan “The Man” Lee.
I continued to read Marvel Comics throughout high school and into my early college years, revelling in the adventures of Spider-Man, Thor, Black Panther, The Avengers, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, Iron Man, Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD, and literally thousands of other assorted heroes and villains, most of whom were created or co-created by Stan Lee.
Eventually, these characters were put on TV and in film, spawning the most innovative, unique and lucrative 20-film (and counting) series in history — the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which since 2008 has consisted of over a dozen and a half related films. And that is in addition to a half-dozen Spider-Man films and as many X-Men / Wolverine films by Sony and Fox. Stan’s impact is seen in a dozen or so current/recent television shows, including Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD (just renewed for a seventh season on ABC), Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Daredevil, Cloak & Dagger, The Gifted, and more. And that’s just the live-action ones! There are uncountable animated series and features based on Lee’s creations.
African American fans have a special appreciation for Stan, primarily because of The X-Men and Black Panther. Stan created the Black Panther as a guest character in the Fantastic Four, well before rival DC’s Luke Cage or Black Lightning. He also crafted the X-Men in the early 1960s as a reflection of the conflicting views on progress of Malcolm X (as Magneto / wanting mutants to segregate) and Dr. Martin Luther King (Professor Xavier / wanting mutants to integrate).
The Nashville / Middle Tennessee fandom community is invited to join together to honor the memory of the inimitable Stan “The Man” Lee, a man who impacted so many people and became a legend of Pop Culture. Come, share your stories and favorite memories about Stan Lee and the impact he had on you and your life as a fan.
A Celebration of Stan Lee will kick off the 25th Anniversary Nashville Comic & Toy Con at the Nashville Fairgrounds at 11:00 AM on Saturday, December 8th. Fans are encouraged to bring photos, memorabilia, and most importantly their stories about Stan Lee and the impact he made on their lives.
The Celebration event is just one part of the two day convention that also includes meet and greets and Q&As with over 60 artists and celebrities, like Disney animator Tom Bancroft, Gil Gerard (TV’s Buck Rogers), and Pro Wrestling legends Jim Cornett and the Midnight Express! Other events include The Super Hero Dating Game, a geek centric Comedy Magic and Variety Show, The Cosplay Collective Toy Drive, Cosplay Olympics and a cash prize Cosplay Contest!
Tickets for the two-day event are only $25, with options of Single day tickets at $20 for Saturday and $10 for Sunday (1/2 price with the donation of a toy to the Cosplay Collective Toy Drive). The two-day convention will be held in The Exhibit Hall at the Nashville Fairgrounds, located at 625 Smith Avenue, Nashville, TN 37203. Saturday Hours are 10 AM – 5 PM. Sunday Hours are 10 AM – 4 PM. More information can be found at www.comiccitytn.com.
The Nashville Comic & Toy Con is produced by Marc Ballard of Comic City Conventions. Comic City Conventions has been producing conventions throughout the southern US for 25 years. For more details visit www.comiccitytn.com.
This article originally appeared in the Nashville Pride.