Stan Lee: Creating Brand Loyalty Through Engagement

Stan Lee was never just a great story teller. He never just told stories.

He was a great story involver. Even if you were reading his comics alone, you felt like you were with friends. And Stan The Man was your best friend.

Lest you think I'm being philosophical, Stan actually used several tools to connect with the fans and make Marvel seem like a real place populated by warm, funny, crazy, creative people. And he did this LONG before comic cons or social media.

How did he do this?

1. The No-Prize:
Even decades ago, Marvel Comics had continuity errors, and eagle eyed fans would pick up on them and write in to the letter columns to report them, and later, offer explanations for the errors. Stan created the No-Prize, which eventually was an empty envelope sent to the 'winners'. Gamification!

2. How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way: This book was available at the KL Library, now next to Dataran Merdeka, but back then it was too expensive to photocopy. So I just bathed in it. It made me feel like I was a part of Stan's world.

3. 4th Wall Comic Captions & Editor Notes: Stan used to love writing comic captions that spoke directly to the reader. Things like, "Did you think we were going to let Spidey off that easily? Hang on to your hats, because the best is yet to come!" and notes from the editor like "Stan didn't like that colour so we changed it - Ed)

4. Stan's Soapbox: I was the generation AFTER Stan Lee, but I had access to a lot of his earlier work, and I LOVE that after finishing a comic, I could still enjoy reading his editorial, oftentimes about things coming up, what's happening around the office, etc. This voice helped me to appreciate the creative team, not just the products they churned out. It's because of Stan that I memorised writer and artists names: David Michelinie, Peter David, Frank Miller, John Byrne, John Romita (the OG one), Peter Saviuk, Todd McFarlane, Sal Buscema, Mark Bagley and so many more. Yes, these were all Spider-man talent.

Stan Lee BECAME the face of Marvel because he was consistently the VOICE of Marvel, and it spoke to and WITH the fans. It never talked down to the fans, and always gave them what they wanted, an experience with the characters they loved.

You made my childhood a vibrant place of love and empowerment. And for that, I thank you Mr Lieber.

Good bye.