'Aaargh!' pretty much sums up my feelings that Saturday in 1971 when I realised I'd missed the opportunity the day before - to see none other than Marvel Comics writer-editor-art director, and Jesus of Cool himself - that undeniably irrepressible man - Stan Lee!
Aaargh! was also the name of the comic art exhibition held at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. That's ICA for you acronym lovers. England was always a little way's backwards in regards to comics distribution, so you never really knew what was happening in 'real time' Marvel New York.
|Avengers 84 - Big John Buscema and lush inks of Titanic Tom Palmer|
So long as Annihilus was in the Negative Zone and the Green Goblin was in upstate New York the Marvel universe would be rockin'.
Unfortunately while Marvel's heroes and villains were all where you'd expect them to be, the man who helped put them there was not.
'AAARGH!' reflects exactly how I felt when I read in Stan's Soapbox that none other than Jack Kirby - co creator, visionary and founding father of Marvel Comics was leaving.
|New Gods 1 - Jack and Vinnie|
This also explains why the exhibition displayed alongside current Marvel original artworks such as the fabulously lush splash page to Avengers 84, Jack Kirby's unexpected and for me hitherto unheralded artwork for his new cosmic series at DC Comics - New Gods 1!
As a young almost fourteen year old this was completely out of left field, and as much as I soaked up the golden glow of this good old Kirby/Colletta artwork - from which parallel comic universe the hell did it come from??!
This was a conundrum of cosmic proportions which for me, and many english fans would not be answered until months later when we stumbled across Kirby's Fourth World DC titles in whatever newsagent we could find them in.
But that's a story for another day.
When by chance I was surfing the net and read that, more than forty years on, none other than Stan Lee was appearing at the London Super Comic convention in February - I knew what I had to do.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words - here's one worth ten thousand comics - with my smiling self, son and comic con companion Laz, and finally - 'Just a guy named Stan!'
From the ICA 1970 to the SLCC 2012 - Andy, Stan and Laz