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Anyone who follows Marvel comics or movies knows the name Stan Lee. He is the co-creator of iconic superheroes such as Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, Iron Man, the Hulk, Thor, X-Men and many many more. There’s a reason he cameos in every single Marvel movie. It’s because they probably wouldn’t exist without him. So, when he caught word of one particular fan who was just all-around obsessed with Spider-Man, Lee decided to give the young boy something he could treasure forever.
It all started back in December when The New York Times published a story about an 8-year-old autistic boy named Jamel in East Harlem, NY with a serious obsession with Spider-Man. After years of trouble in group environments because of his autism, his mother decided to give him an epic birthday party. And despite having very little money, Jamel’s mother went all out, covering every wall of a community room with Spidey along with Spider-Man balloons, a spider made of frosting on the birthday cake, and a homemade pin-the-tail-on-the-Spider-Man game. Jamel told his mother that he was happy at his party.
It was an incredibly touching story that resonated with so many, and eventually reached its way to Stan Lee via his neighbors. When Lee got hold of the story, his neighbor insisted that he send the boy a sketch. But you see, Lee is the writer of Spider-Man comics, not the artist. He told The New York Times:
This was a unique experience. Corky called me and said there was a little boy. She wanted a sketch, so I did one… I’m not known as an artist, which is lucky for the world.
What makes this sketch so special is that it is not like any other. It was drawn by Lee, with his own signature at the bottom. Lee was happy that his character resonated so deeply with the young boy. He went on to explain that the idea behind Spider-Man was that he was a young hero that kids could relate to, that was his own superhero, not a sidekick. Also, Spider-Man exists in a real world setting, specifically New York which further connects Peter Parker to young Jamel.
The framed sketch made its way to East Harlem, and Jamel may not know the value, or what exactly it means quite yet but he still thoroughly enjoys it, thanks to Lee, and his quirky character Spider-Man. It’s stories like these that show us how deep comic book characters go, and how we can all connect to them in one way or another. There may be debate about the status of superhero movies, but many of these original characters were made with care, and though the characters may change, they all have a similar intention: to tell a unique story about good conquering evil in a way that almost every age can appreciate.