Will you be daring enough to breathe life into a legend?
I was at an event today, and the keynote speaker was the brilliant Jefferey Katzenberg, .(the "K" in Dreamworks SKG and one of the most powerful men in the entertainment business).
He is also a startup investor through WnderCo. He kept saying that the most important trait any founder should have is resilience. Without it, nothing else matters.
When listening to him, I was reminded of another resilient founder whose stubbornness changed the course of pop culture... forever.
Founders, here's the story. But don't just read it as is; in your mind, whenever you read "Stan Lee" change it to your own name, Whenever you see "the publisher", change it to "VC", "Investor" or anyone that said no to you :)
This is the incredible story of determination, creativity, and unwavering belief of the late Stan Lee, a legend in the world of comic books. It's a tale that involves one of the most iconic superheroes of all time - Spider-Man.
Back in the early 1960s, Stan Lee was working as a writer and editor for Marvel Comics, which was then known as Timely Comics. Lee had already co-created a handful of superheroes, but he was eager to introduce something fresh and relatable to readers. Stan Lee envisioned a character that would resonate with young readers like never before.
In his mind, he pictured a teenager named Peter Parker, an ordinary high school student who gains incredible spider-like abilities after being bitten by a radioactive spider. Lee was captivated by the potential of this character and the opportunity to explore the challenges and complexities of teenage life.
However, when Stan Lee pitched his idea for Spider-Man to his publisher, he was met with skepticism. The prevailing belief at the time was that teenage superheroes wouldn't sell, no one would relate to the day to day problems they had like dating, money and so on, and the idea of a hero with spider-related powers was deemed too unconventional. Discouraged but not defeated, Lee was told to abandon the concept altogether. But Stan Lee refused to give up.
Unwilling to let go of his vision, Stan Lee decided to take a gamble. "Amazing Fantasy," was a series that was set to be discontinued. The last issue was about to come out, and in a discontinued series, no one cared what you put out. The publishers didn't even proofread it. Lee saw it as an opportunity to give the character a chance to shine, even if it meant this would be Spider-Man's one and only appearance. So defying direct orders from his publisher, Stan Lee debuted Spider-man in the final issue of "Amazing Fantasy".
The issue, "Amazing Fantasy #15," hit the stands in August 1962. To everyone's surprise, it became an instant hit. Readers were drawn to the relatable struggles of Peter Parker and were captivated by the character's wit, vulnerability, and the responsibility he felt to use his newfound powers for good. The response was overwhelming, and fans demanded more of Spider-Man.
This unexpected success led Marvel Comics to give Spider-Man his own title, "The Amazing Spider-Man," which premiered in March 1963. From that point on, Spider-Man skyrocketed to become one of the most beloved and recognizable superheroes worldwide. Stan Lee's gamble had paid off, proving that he had an incredible intuition for what readers truly desired.
He knew his target market better than anyone else
Stan Lee's unwavering belief in Spider-Man's potential and his refusal to forget the character, even when told to do so, changed the course of comic book history. Spider-Man went on to inspire millions with his relatable stories, facing both personal struggles and supervillains alike.
Today, Spider-Man stands as a testament to the creative genius and tenacity of Stan Lee. His ability to recognize the power of storytelling and the importance of relatable characters has left an indelible mark on popular culture, making him a true legend.
I hope this story inspires you to hold onto your dreams and beliefs, even in the face of adversity. Sometimes, the most remarkable journeys begin with a simple refusal to forget.