Spawn creator Todd McFarlane has heaped the biggest praise on the late comic book legend Stan Lee by likening his contributions to the entertainment industry to that of Walt Disney.
“Few people can create the kind of characters who have that kind of global impact,” McFarlane said to Variety just after Lee passed away today. “The only other person I can think of is Walt Disney. Just as Disney’s impact continues to grow and expand, I think we’re going to see Stan’s legacy grow even bigger.”
McFarlane, who co-created Venom thanks to his success at Marvel on The Amazing Spider-Man -- one of the many characters Lee had a hand in creating -- reiterated he'd remain forever grateful to his ever-humble former mentor.
“I get that he created all these characters, but Stan’s true superpower was the way he interacted with his fans,” he said. “He got that in 30 seconds a celebrity can make a big impact on someone. It can be positive or negative, but it will be lasting. He understood that responsibility and he never treated being famous as a nuisance. He got a kick out of it.”
He also praised Lee's vision for what he knew comics would someday evolve into.
“He understood the bigness of what he created," McFarlane added. "He got the melodrama. He knew comicbooks were just Broadway plays with lots of bright colors. The heroes have be really good and the villains have to be really bad," added McFarlane. "But his characters weren’t flawless. They had their Achilles’ heel. They weren’t always perfect or super handsome, but they were still flamboyant. They threw hammers, they stopped cars with their bodies, and they wore crazy space suits.”
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Ultimately, the Image Comics co-founder made it clear that the trait he'll remember Lee most for is his resilience when it came to making art.
“When you talked privately to Stan he’d acknowledge that he had doubts,” he continued. “He didn’t know back then what he was about to unleash. He didn’t know if it would work when he tried something with a character. All creative people have that. But even if he had doubts, he never froze. He kept going. I hope that gives people hope."