“You were the first creator whose voice I knew before I’d ever actually heard it. You dreamed up some of my favorite modern myths and created characters that instilled in me a moral barometer, teaching me right from wrong and showing me it’s always better to be a hero instead of a villain. Your characters represented us: yes, they had extraordinary, unbelievable abilities, but they were also reflections of a world we knew, where a Spider-Man is really just a boy who wants to help.” (Kevin Smith)

“He was a powerhouse of energy and enthusiasm, and his death ends an era when giants walked the Earth and made up new kinds of stories.” (Neil Gaiman)

“Thank you Stan Lee for making people who feel different realize they are special.” (Seth Rogan)

There’s a lot more out there, and together they say it better than any one of us could.

All I can say is that I owe a lot to Stan Lee. I found my corner of the universe early in life. It was a space shared by Darth Vader, the Hulk, and Spider-man. I didn’t buy my first Spider-man comic until 1983 (The Amazing Spider-man #239) but I had already fallen in love with his magic through TV——cartoons and Electric Company and made-for-TV movies. It’s a love I still have.

When I heard he passed the first thing I thought is it’s a such a gift to live to be 95. And then I thought it’s even a greater gift to spend those years giving joy and creativity and acceptance and wonder to so many. After spending the day reading so many people’s thoughts, I can’t help thinking what an amazing thing it is to live to see your impact and receive your due accolades and——even at that advanced age——still leave at the peak of other’s regard for you.

Stan Lee helped create the modern comic book art form and carried it all (and us) from the margins right into the mainstream. That’s some kind of life. One that’s going to outlive us all.