My Stan Lee Story

Completely true

Several emails with subject lines like 'Stan Lee stuff,' 'Your PositiveSSL Certificate for therealstanlee.com,' etc

My inbox, just days before vacation, October 2018

Reading time: 4 minutes

Return to Blog Home
May 26th at 11:07am

Bad configuration of Message to Display in Plugin parameters.

The conflict

"I have an emergency if you can help me tonight or tomorrow."

Under most circumstances, I like a good technological crisis. It means someone else has failed - often more than once - and they've provided me an opportunity to cement a new relationship.

Unfortunately, the timing of this emergency obscured some of the shine. The email arrived a week before we were scheduled to take our first international trip since our son had been born, and I didn't want anything to disturb our preparation or the trip itself.

That wasn't an overreaction. Projects like this had taken absurd turns a couple of times before. But I was interested.

Jeff, the guy who contacted me, explained the situation on the phone. "It's for Stan Lee's website."

Under most circumstances, I like a good technological crisis.

I recalled devouring Batman hardcover comics in the car while my mom ran errands. A bookish child looked up at me, disappointed, through the recesses of my consciousness. I actually thought, Aw man, I'm a DC guy.

I shook my head at what a stone-cold idiot my reactive voice could be.

"Cool," I said. "What's the problem?"

It didn't sound difficult, but I wasn't going to commit to anything yet.

Jeff put me in touch with the admin, a gifted graphic designer who felt ill-equipped to solve the problem. We walked through some of the issues. I logged in and looked around. It was manageable.

The anticlimactic climax

Even though our vacation was days away, I was confident I knew what the problem was. The project wouldn't get in the way of our trip.

Batman slapping Robin saying "Stop it! We are talking about Stan Lee!"

Me and Batman. Batman and me.

I've worked on celebrities' websites before, but still: I felt a little nervous. Scarlett Johansson might visit this site, I thought. Or Brie Larson, or - please God - Simone Missick... or maybe some of the guys that play Marvel superheroes. That Deadpool guy's funny, he might check out the site.

I fixed the main problem and optimized some things. We sketched out a plan for migrating content from the old site to the new one - there was a lot, and it was messy. We all worked together quickly and efficiently because, well, Stan. And I needed to get to Europe.

The falling action

The new design was in place and we had inserted dummy content to see how it looked. We corresponded with representatives from POW! Entertainment, including a lawyer.

Later, on a call with the designer and me, Jeff told us the magic words: "Stan's really happy with the site so far. He likes what we've done."

It was a perfect sendoff for my trip.

"Stan's really happy with the site so far. He likes what we've done."

I had one thing left to do: find a replacement who was capable of finishing the migration plan and then following through on it. Someone I trusted without hesitation. I knew just the guy.

"I have a project for you," I told him on the phone. "It shouldn't take too long and it should be decent pay. It's for Stan Lee and-"

"I'll do it."

I laughed. "Don't you want me to tell you what it is?"

"Well, sure, but I'm still going to do it."

Comfortable in the knowledge that a good team was on Stan's site, I forgot all of it and went to France. I was in Dijon on November 12 when I got a surprise text.

Brief text exchange: Whoa Stan Lee died/Oh shit

Not my most eloquent moment. Nov 2018

The Resolution

When I returned, I asked my colleague how the project worked out, especially with the sad twist at the end.

It turns out the content they needed to migrate from one system to another was not going to go quietly. Here was his email to me:

I looked at that data every which way I could think of, and given the manner in which was collected, it would have taken hundreds of hours to get it back to being [importable].

I gave them a very detailed, step by step quote. About a week had gone by, we hadn't heard anything back from them about a decision, and basically we figured it wasn't cost effective for them, but then Stan passed away and they needed some help.

The Stan Lee website crashed from the traffic after the news broke out, so they needed help getting that up and running again, plus they wanted to put up a memory wall.

Took a few minutes, but we got them on another server and back up and running again. Created a page for the memory wall tributes and they were good to go.

That memory wall got pounded for weeks. Just crushed.

My participation was brief - literally six days - but I'm glad I was able to untie a few knots for Stan Lee's new website.

And if he was pleased with it - if he really did say he liked it - then he complimented my work less than two weeks before he died.

Not the biggest feather in my cap, but hell yes, I'll take it.

 Five Stores and a Month  

Blog Home

Add a comment

Comments

July 30th, 2020 at 9:17pm EDT by Shawn
I remember that day like it was yesterday :(

Archive

About

A smiling Francis and me, sitting outside in front of some shrubs

Some basics

A brief biographical sketch

Me on top of a sunny Mt Pilatus in Switzerland, with mountains in the background

Travel

Pardon the saccharine and the obvious, but travel is everything

A couple standing in front of a large Gothic church, on a bridge over the Seine

France

France deserves its own section

Francis, as a two year-old in a car seat, in sunglasses reading a French picture book

Reading

The bullshit of daily life? I'd rather read.

Stage with musicians going at it - they're Gogol Bordello, and they're crazy

Music

Let me take you back

Little boy sitting on a big white bed, looking at a tablet

Television

I watch a lot more television than movies

Live action from a soccer game at Crew Stadium - yellow versus blue

Soccer

The only sport that matters

Ugly photo of a pig knuckle after it's been eaten - really, it looks horrible

Food

As a travel writer, I have to talk about food

Me in an outdoor restaurant drinking from a green coconut with a long straw

Dumb stuff

You will not feel smarter after reading this

Dumpster full of garbage

Minimalism

Trying to live simply

Me getting out of a red Ferrari F430 with a guy clapping for me

Other Interests

I've only driven a Ferrari once

Dude wearing orange pants and orange and green shoes walking on wet grass

Get off my lawn

A few brief rants

Recent Instagram Posts

Recent Tweets