Stan Lee made the world his own
"There was an idea..."
The idea was to write "The Great American Novel". In pursuit of that idea, one man took a risk which would change the superhero genre forever and usher in the creation of a universe which today spans a multi-billion dollar business across film, print, TV and digital.
That man was Stan Lee.
The long-time publisher of Marvel Comics and the man who created iconic characters such as Spider-Man, Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor, The Fantastic Four and The X-Men, sadly died on Monday. But he leaves behind a legacy and a mark on popular culture which few today can match.
Lee joined Timely Comics in 1939, at the age of 17, and two years later his comic book debut was published. It was a Captain America story and marked two firsts: it was the first time "Cap" had used his rebound shield throw and it was the first time Stanley Lieber had used the name which would become synonymous with him, Stan Lee.
Over the next seven decades it was a moniker which would become synonymous with all aspects of the superhero comic world. Lee was publisher of Marvel Comics from 1972 and even briefly served as the company's President.
He is credited with creating the current superhero mould; characters with flaws and human lives.
Reportedly the innovation came after DC comics revived the superhero archetype in the late 1950s. Lee, who had become disillusioned with the business, was asked to come up with a new superhero team and followed his wife's advice to experiment with a new type of character.
This led to Lee and his long-time collaborator Jack Kirby creating The Fantastic Four - and the rest is history.
But for many young and casual fans Lee will be most recognisable for his cameos in the many Marvel films over the last few years.
These cameos capture what made Lee such an enduring character both in and beyond the universe he created. His passion and joy for the world which he once reportedly considered leaving was evident. Up to the last he was talking to fans on Twitter, signing off with his trademark: "Excelsior!"
Stan Lee gave us many stories, each carrying a lesson of their own, but his life carries another lesson of its own: do it your way and find the joy in doing so.