“A HALF-CENTURY ago, at the height of the civil rights era, Stan Lee was co-creating the regal African character the Black Panther with the aim to appeal to a diverse readership. The legendary Marvel editor believed in the power of comics not only to reflect truthful aspects of society, but also to illuminate the better angels of our nature.
Now, at 93, Lee continues to create visuals to appeal to our higher sense of self, even as, he says, some might divide us.
That is why this week, comics’ greatest living ambassador is bringing a new symbol to New York, and thus, he hopes, the nation. Lee will be featured Friday night at a Madison Square Garden “creators’ roundtable” event as part of his appearance at the bustling New York Comic Con, which runs through Sunday.
And what Lee will speak to, through the prism of his many flawed superheroes, is mutual respect. Because Lee is again seeing a country that is roiling and boiling and hurting, partly along lines of race and authority, and so he has drawn up a simple lapel pin that depicts a handshake between arms of contrasting tints, interlocked beneath the word “Respect.”
“My daughter J.C. and I were watching TV, and she commented about the U.S. flag pin that so many politicians, including the president, often wear,” Lee tells The Washington Post’s Comic Riffs. The daughter then asked Dad: Why couldn’t people, regardless of race, wear a solidarity pin that indicated mutual respect?”
“JC’s remarks sent me back to the drawing board,” Lee says, “and I designed such a pin.”
The symbol is simple in order to be effective. This isn’t about supporting any one side, he says, but rather about coming together…”