Stan Lee left memorable impact on Black youth
Comic book legend dies at 95
William Covington OW Contributor | 11/16/2018, midnight
Lee’s characters Charles Xavier, leader of the “X Men,” believed mutants and mainstream America could work together peacefully and achieve racial harmony through nonviolence similar to Martin Luther King’s practice of non-violent protest. Magneto is quoted in Marvel Comics as saying, “he intends to fight the war between the humans and mutants by any means necessary.” Marvel Comic aficionados have often said the line is a nod to another revolutionary—with an affinity for the letter “X”—who ascended during the Civil Rights era.
It’s presumed in comic book lore that Magneto is a villain but Lee had a different perspective when he created the character. Lee has often discussed the metal-warping mutant: “I did not think of Magneto as a bad guy. He was just trying to strike back at the people who were so bigoted and racist. He was trying to defend mutants, and because society was not treating them fairly, he decided to teach society a lesson. He was a danger of course, but I never thought of him as a villain.”
Jones believes most of the African American males in South LA improved their reading skills with Marvel Comics, while others took their passion a bit farther by drawing Marvel Comic superheroes. Being able to draw Marvel Comic heroes made you a “ghetto celebrity” of sorts, similar to an Hispanic in East LA being able to be great at tattoos.
Inspiring future artists
I spoke with Marshall in October 2007. He said he was more interested in discussing individuals we both knew on East 46th Street as opposed to his famous artwork, a former childhood neighbor of Marshall’s. However we did discuss his childhood drawings of “Ironman,” “The Incredible Hulk” and “The Submariner.”
A childhood neighbor, Lister Leonard, said that was the Marshall he remembered. He has always been into art, and if you attempted to ask him about what inspired him to draw, he was more interested in changing the subject. According to Leonard, “ I remember he was always drawing these great images from Marvel comics. When he was young he had a very large afro, and sometimes would wear a bandana around it. He reminded you of Jimi Hendrix, he would sometimes wear a beret similar to what the Black Panthers would wear.
Another Marvel Comics fan, Antwone Brooks, remembers Marshall being quiet and reserved. “ A group of us would walk home from Jefferson High together,” Brooks said. “It was mostly guys that hung out at South Park, I remember he drew Captain America for a mutual friend, Lamar Crudup. We knew he (Marshall) could draw Marvel Comic heroes and I guess subconsciously we believed he had a talent and would make it one day.”
A painting by former Jefferson High artist Kerry James Marshall titled “Past Times,” was sold for $21.1 million. The purchaser was Hip Hop superstar Sean “P Diddy” Combs, according to Sotheby’s New York staffer Jackie Watcher. The painting was sold by Chicago’s Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority. ).
Jones believes the American Civil Rights Movement inspired Lee and Kirby to join the movement to improve living conditions of African Americans through several Stan Lee creations.