"Dear Stan and Jack," were the first words of George R.R. Martin's that he ever saw in print. And the "Stan" in that greeting was of course Stan Lee, and the "Jack" was Jack Kirby. It was a letter the teenage Martin had written in relation to his growing love of the Fantastic Four comics, and it was printed, the first publication of Martin's ever, in Fantastic Four #20, a commentary on Fantastic Four #17. In it, Martin compared his hero Stan Lee to Shakespeare.
Martin has revealed this in a cascade of Lee accolades he has penned in a touching tribute posted to his personal website yesterday. It ranks among the most moving tributes to Lee (who Martin admits never quite remembered meeting him) and it shows the far-reaching tentacles of Stan Lee's writing, touching not only the universes he created, but the expanded universes of all the writers who have admired his work.
Martin begins, in Lee-like fashion, "Unless you have been hiding in a cave somewhere...or down with the Mole Man in the bowels of the Earth...by now you will have read that Stan Lee has died, at the age of 95. A good age, that. Stan Lee lived a long life, and leaves a grand and glorious legacy behind him."
Martin goes on to tell the tale of his first letter to Lee, and all that came after: "He was, in a sense, my first publisher, my first editor. 'Dear Stan and Jack.' Those were the first words of mine ever to see print." And to defend his youthful comparison of Lee to Shakespeare: "And yet, and yet...the comparison, when you think about it, is not entirely without merit. There were plays before Shakespeare, but the Bard's work revolutionized the theater, left it profoundly different from what it had been before. And Stan Lee did the same for comic books."
He goes on to say that, for him, "the greatest influences are the earliest influences...and in the beginning there was only Stan Lee."
He closes with one final letter to Stan:
You did good work. As long as people still read comic books and still believe in heroes, your characters will be remembered. Thanks so much. Make mine Marvel.
George R. Martin
35 East First St.
Bayonne, New Jersey."
The tribute, in it's entirety, can be found here.