by Brent Johnson
For thousands of years people from all over the world have cried out for freedom. The call for independence has rung true throughout human history. Dating back to the Exodus from Egypt, through the history of the Holy Roman Empire, the Dark Ages, the Renaissance, the French and American Revolutions, World War I, World War II, the Age of Apartheid… the cries for freedom and independence have always been heard by those who would listen.
Freedom is a principle that people from all classes, races, genders and ages seek to achieve. It is the single most popular objective that has ever existed throughout human history.
With so many people crying out for liberty for so long - a state in which they are free to live their lives as they see fit - it is a wonder that they have failed so remarkably to achieve their desire.
Why is this so, and what would it take to successfully achieve this objective that billions of people around the world have sought for so long and continue to seek?
Freedom is more than just a word to be used by political candidates; it is more than a utopian dream; it is more than a philosophical or theoretical concept to discuss at a gathering of activists or over a family meal. It is a genuine treasure, and like any treasure it takes planning, work and commitment to achieve it in its purest form.
Living in a state of freedom means taking full responsibility for your life; your hopes and dreams; your likes and dislikes; your wants and desires. It requires a certain character that refuses to accept failure. It requires its possessor to never recognize anyone else’s claims to restrict it in any way.
In order to actually live free one must possess not only certain characteristics, one must also be willing to accept the responsibilities inherent in living as a free person. These responsibilities are great, and there are many of them. They include the willingness and dedication to fight to defend and preserve that freedom, and if necessary to die for it.
Freedom is unselfish. Those who seek freedom for their own sakes will never have it. Freedom must always be pursued and achieved in order that others may possess it. It is perhaps the most genuinely altruistic thing that can exist.
It is one thing to fight in order to become free. It is another thing to live life as a free being once you have your independence. Understanding both is necessary if you are to live a genuinely free life.
Thomas Jefferson wrote, “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” This means you not only need to fight to acquire your freedom; you need to fight to retain it - always and in all ways. You never get to rest. You never get to finally sit back and relax because you are finally free.
There is a chemistry to freedom. Consider that we are all living in a global laboratory in which there are always forces seeking to undermine the freedom of the people, while there are also always forces seeking to protect and defend it. These forces are always at work against each other, whether you are aware of them or not. If the forces defending freedom and the forces seeking to undermine it are kept in proper balance, then people can indeed live lives of freedom.
You may ask what I mean by “proper balance”. Why should forces working against individual liberty exist at all? What use do they have?
Notwithstanding the fact that such forces do exist, always have existed, and always will exist, these anti-freedom forces do serve an eclectic purpose.
What would the world look like if everyone was totally free; free to do anything at all? People would then be free to steal, rape, plunder and murder. It may be a free world but would it be a desirable one? I think not.
There must be principles that restrict the undesirable elements of total freedom in any society, whether on a local, regional, national or global scale. These are necessary in order to allow people to enjoy their freedom. This is why it is necessary for forces that oppose freedom to exist in balance with the principles of freedom.
The problem, of course, comes from the fact that forces opposed to freedom have too often taken it upon themselves to determine the proper extent of their efforts. Governments - for it is always governments that stand at the forefront of the anti-freedom movement - have claimed for themselves the right to enforce limits on the freedom of the people they govern. That has never worked to promote a free society, and it will never work. This is because when governments set themselves up to make such determinations, they attract the kind of administrators who are unscrupulous, cruel, and power-hungry. Such people will never accept balance as an objective; rather, they seek total control.
What is needed is a paradigm in which the people are the rulers of their own lives, but they have - within strict limits - incorporated mechanisms to discourage and punish those who seek to use their own freedom to obstruct or infringe upon the freedom of others. This type of social system is what was created after the American Revolution, with the Articles of Confederation of the united States of America.
This was a system by which the people were free to live their lives as they saw fit without damaging the lives, liberties or property of others. Any governments that existed - county, state or federal - were subservient to the people, who stood above the government and were only answerable to their Creator. The Declaration of Independence of 1776 states, “We are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights…” Thus only the Creator can ever take them away. Governments did not create those rights and so no matter what the situation, governments can never take them away.
Under this system it is the people who are the final arbiters of actions by governments. The people do not need to obey government; it is government that needs to obey the people. This provides a mechanism to restrict the undesirable elements of freedom without depriving the people of their rightful place as the rulers of their society.
However, freedom carries with it great responsibility. “Eternal vigilance” is needed by all the people. Whenever government steps beyond its lawfully delegated powers, it is the people who need to stop it. The people need to refuse to comply with government efforts to impose restrictions on their freedom. The people need to defend their liberty whenever anyone attacks it - including police, legislators, bureaucrats, or anyone else. It is a grave responsibility and it takes people of a very high character and commitment to make it work.
If you stand up against terrorist police who seek to attack your freedom, you may be shot; you may die. Are you willing to shoot back; are you willing to kill in order to defend your Creator-endowed rights? If you are not willing to do these things, then you will inevitably surrender your freedom, at which point you cannot complain about not having it. If you are willing to do these things, then perhaps - hopefully - you will never need to do them.
What are you willing to do to protect and defend your freedom? What are you not willing to do to protect and defend your freedom? The answer to the second question provides the key to undermining your freedom, and the reason that freedom fighters throughout history have ultimately failed to provide and preserve their freedom.
Successful freedom fighters are willing to do anything to protect and defend their freedom and the freedom of others. There is nothing they are not willing to do to protect that same freedom. That is what makes them successful.
If a society of any size establishes a system whereby the people are the rulers and government is their public servant, then a balance can be maintained between living free and not living totally free. That is the chemistry that is needed if we are ever to achieve a lasting and perpetual freedom for ourselves and our posterity,
Brent Johnson is Director of Freedom Bound International, a common law service center dedicated to the preservation of personal freedom, privacy rights and the Declaration of Independence. He may be reached at 1-888-385-FREE or on-line at www.freedomradio.us.
by Brent Johnson
Have you ever seen one of those television commercials for the Army? Be all that you can be. An army of one. Or those really interesting, effect-laden ads for the Marines? Maybe you could be one of us. The few, the proud, the Marines.
These TV ads promote the glory, excitement, and many opportunities offered if you just sign up for the Service. All of the bait is laid out in these commercials, hoping for a good catch. None of the downside of serving in the Armed Forces is ever mentioned; not the long hours or bad food, certainly not the loss of liberty, nor any of the more unpleasant aspects of military life.
That may be expected because after all, this is an advertisement and so it is only going to show you the good stuff. Fair enough. Advertising is the commercial art of mind manipulation. The purpose of any advertisement is to get the viewer (listener, reader) to do something. In other words, commercials are intended to influence social behavior.
Now, have you ever noticed the small print at the bottom of the screen that reads, “Paid for by the U.S. Army” (or Navy, Marines, or Coast Guard)? Look for it the next time you see one of these military commercials.
If the advertisement was paid for by one of the Armed Services, then that means it was paid for with taxpayer money. Which raises the question as to why the American people are paying to have themselves programmed to surrender their God-given unalienable rights?! Let me explain.
When you enlist in any of the Armed Forces, you must sign an oath, agreeing to protect and defend the Constitution from all enemies, domestic or foreign, and to follow the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Once you have given your oath, you are G.I. (which means Government Issue). In other words, you have waived your unalienable rights and literally become the property of the United States government!
Under the circumstances, it seems illegal, unconstitutional, and somewhat frightening to find that the government is using taxpayer money to fund commercial advertising that is designed to encourage young Americans to surrender their rights by enlisting in the military. The government is manipulating the minds of all Americans to serve a military, not civilian purpose, and hardly anybody notices it. Does that surprise you?
Why aren’t you outraged? The government is using tax dollars - the fruit of your labor - to advertise! That should never happen. Tax dollars are only to be used for specific purposes, and never to promote any function of government, because anything the government does for you requires in exchange that you waive your unalienable rights. Taxpayer funds can never be legitimately used to convince Americans to give up their rights.
The next time you are watching television, listening to the radio, or reading a newspaper, pay attention to any advertisements for the United States Armed Services. As a matter of fact, watch for any ads that are paid for by tax dollars. Consider what is being promoted; what the ad is trying to get you to do. Ask yourself if this kind of mind manipulation is a proper way to spend American tax dollars. Then get on the phone, fax or e-mail, and contact your Representative to complain about this overt, socially destructive, unauthorized use of taxpayer money.
If we do not speak out against such destructive and illegal behavior on the part of our government, then we approve of it, in which case we deserve the resulting servitude.
“The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.” Frederick Douglas, 1857
Brent Johnson is Director of Freedom Bound International, a common law service center dedicated to the preservation of personal freedom, privacy rights and the Declaration of Independence. He may be reached at 1-888-385-FREE or on-line at www.freedomradio.us.
by Brent Johnson
It has become accepted as a necessary function of our government: Homeland Security. The new massive Department of Homeland Security, created by an Act of Congress, has already attracted countless lobbyists, all vying for billions of dollars in DHS appropriations. (By the way, did you know that Homeland Security was supposed to cost nothing; it was supposed to simply be a reorganization of already existing budgets? So much for government promises).
But what exactly does it mean to secure our homeland?
America is not just a specific landmass, though her states certainly cover a large area of land and water. America is more than that; it is a system of principles, which recognizes that there are higher laws than the laws of the State, and that it is to those higher laws that we give our allegiance and obedience. American principles dictate that governments are established “to secure (your) rights” and that you can change the government “whenever any government becomes destructive to these ends…” (Declaration of Independence, 1776).
Do you really understand the significance of that last statement? This is the united States of America, and you have the power to change the entire government if it does not behave properly! You, me, the grocer who lives down the street, the local private schoolteacher, and the ordinary American people are the lords of these united States of America! We have the power! That is the truth!
So what does it mean to secure our homeland? Security can take many forms, not all of them positive in a free society.
For example, we could secure all of America by placing every man, woman and child into handcuffs and leg chains, with a gag in each American’s mouth and a guard in each house. Think about it. There would be no more crime, no murders, no rapes, no child molestation, no verbal abuse, no domestic violence, no arson, no theft, and no sexual harassment… but is it a desirable society?
Most people would say no, because they inherently and instinctively understand that while in pursuit of security, there are other important criteria that also need to be considered.
When you think about it, securing anything is really very easy. Simply provide enough manpower (soldiers, police, militia, etc.) with enough weaponry to secure the area/property/people, etc. However, if we lose our very identity as the united States of America in order to secure ourselves, then what have we really gained? If we undermine the character of our free Republic in order to achieve greater safety, then what have we really lost? And is it worth it?
“They that give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
If we are to secure our homeland, we must do so in a manner that strengthens rather than weakens our adherence to the fundamental principles that define us as a social and political entity. Otherwise, we are just reacting to the current state of affairs, and when the political winds again change direction, for they always do, the American Way of Life will be blown away with all the rest of the politically incorrect aspects of our historical identity.
Yet, there are always workable solutions to the problems inherent in securing our homeland. We must secure our borders, putting America’s concerns for security above the economic benefits of international commerce and trade, even though we are called selfish, uncaring, or even racist by the socialists, but we must do so without encroaching on the rights of individual Americans.
We must secure our airlines and airports, highways and byways, for safe use by our citizenry, but we must find a way to do so that doesn’t violate the rights of individual Americans. Most importantly, we must hold government officials and agencies directly responsible and personally liable for any violations by them of the rights of individual Americans.
We must stand true. We must stand firm. We must not display a willingness to surrender even a small or seemingly unimportant element of our rights, our liberties, or our freedom. We must especially not accept official explanations that “we are at war” (because we are not at war until and unless Congress declares war) and that emergency measures are necessary (because the Constitution does not allow for any such “emergency measures”).
Make your stand for Truth and Freedom. Do not allow your family or yourself to be vaccinated. Vaccines are poison. Defend the lives and health of your family from government tyrants trying to poison you and them, even at the risk of your own life. Stop supporting the oppressive security measures being employed in airports throughout our land. The best way to do this is to stop flying as much as possible. If your job requires you to fly… consider renegotiating your contract or finding another job. If the airlines go out of business, so be it. Until Real Patriots begin taking such drastic and needed action, nothing will change.
Stop paying non-required federal taxes. If you live in one of the 50 Union states, then federal taxes (e.g. social security, income tax, etc.) are not your taxes. Learn how to properly opt out of these voluntary taxes; get rid of your social security number (which also means giving up all of the benefits to which you would otherwise be entitled and no, you will not get your money back from the system). Cancel your voter registration card and marriage license. Take time to learn how to properly remove yourself from federal jurisdiction, then do it. Stop applying for benefits, grants, and government loans or financing; stop trying to get something for nothing. Your right to self-determination, that is, your freedom is always the price you pay.
Don’t support government tyranny!
Stop thinking of the government as your friend. Thomas Paine, in his classic and brilliant essay, Common Sense, referred to government, when operating at its very best - when it is doing nothing wrong and everything right - as a necessary evil. It is from the inspiration of Paine’s writings that Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence. In these united States of America, government is regarded as inherently evil.
Do not let politicians and lobbyists determine for you the meaning of homeland security. Do not turn this fundamental responsibility over to political servants who have shown themselves unable to perform even the simplest tasks on behalf of the American people without engaging in unparalleled patterns of deceit and corruption. Do not allow the security of your country to be undermined by the enemies of freedom.
Frankly, I dislike the term “homeland”. It reminds me too much of the 1987 ABC miniseries Amerika, in which our Republic has been taken over by communists and hard-line socialists (Russians, East Germans, etc.). In the movie, Nebraska, Kansas, and some parts of the surrounding states are renamed “Heartland”. It was eerie to watch this movie about our Republic being subverted from within, and it is eerie to see today’s America referred to as the “homeland”. It would be wise to remember that Russia was the motherland for the Soviet Union and Germany was the fatherland for the Third Reich. Have we learned nothing from history? (Amerika is available through Freedom Bound International @ 888-385-3733).
While it is admittedly almost impossible to avoid every single tax or hidden fee imposed by government on the people, there are numerous things that you can do to secure your rights from government intrusion. Once you have done these things, you will be in a much better position from which to refuse to comply with government regulations and controls with impunity.
However, do not wait until you go through some process or read a book or watch a video before taking action. Time is not on your side. Instead, let it be an ongoing process for you, even while you are on a never-ending quest to learn as much as you can about these issues. Do while you learn. Learn while you do. You will make mistakes, but you will recover and be even stronger as a result. No error is irreparable, so you can proceed without fear.
In the final analysis, the greatest security for our homeland will be achieved by each of you understanding the source and power of your rights, and cultivating a willingness to defend those unique gifts with which you have been endowed by your Creator, with your lives, your fortunes, and your sacred honor.
Start today. Resist all government efforts to control you. Do not comply. Make that your focus: resistance and non-compliance. Set it as your task, your mantra, your prayer each day. Resist. Do not comply. Resist. Do not comply. Remember that you are standing up against the inherent evil that is government. You are standing up for the Higher Law that is supreme over any government.
Do so with courage and confidence.
Brent Johnson is Director of Freedom Bound International, a common law service center dedicated to the preservation of personal freedom, privacy rights and the Declaration of Independence. He may be reached at 1-888-385-FREE or on-line at www.freedomradio.us or at www.brentjohnsontruth.com.
In 2018, on December 7, (a day said to “Live in Infamy”) five patriots, Phil Hudok, Gene Stalnaker, Alicia Lutz-Rolow, Leonard Frank house of Harview, and Keith Lawrence Moore, began on behalf of all Americans, especially the children, a counter-offer to the flagrant and willful un/non Constitutional actions and inactions of those proclaiming Lawful and Legitimate Authority by, under, through and pursuant to the Constitution for the United States of America c1819.
Utilizing the most ancient and time-tested customs of man, these four men and one woman demanded a showing of proof of legitimacy for the current actions, inactions, processes, constructs and procedures of the alleged “Lawful and Legitimate Authority.”
Sadly, but not surprisingly, there was no response by the agents! Could it be that while required to, they didn’t answer because they had no answer?
A good-faith and clean-hands opportunity was graciously afforded to respond and/or offer proof of their various claims strictly according to the terms in a counter-offer. Sadly, but not surprisingly, there was again complete silence.
A third and final offer for a full settlement to afford the Americans complete and absolute remedy was presented in good-faith with clean-hands. This was fully compliant within the framework of the counter-offer, and also compliant with the ancient customs of man.
The breaches were then filed in demand and complaint format to an independent third party in compliance with the counter-offer. They were afforded full opportunity to reply and appear yet failed to do either.
On August 19, 2019 an award was issued and affirmed that the contract was valid, enforceable and was procured absent fraud. Further, it affirmed that they failed to contest or respond at any time during the dispute. The award named 3 remedies specifically.
It is important to note that the Arbitrator’s Decision and Award is final. No action is permitted in perpetuity to contest the Arbitration Award in any manner or form.
To view and access what it all means and what you can do, use the following link: www.hudok.info if for some reason unavailable, www.scannedretina.com.
All Americans will be granted an opportunity to stand-up and demand full settlement of the award. This is your opportunity to accept the “Free-will” Birth-right granted to all, by the Creator
Are you a present day Restorer of Free Will, granted by the Creator and espoused by the Founding Fathers?
All Americans have the privilege to opt-in by the December 25th deadline. The dedicated website, www.hudok.info, contains documents, articles, and videos for total comprehension of the why, how, and what happened and what Treaty of Peace 2020 means to those who opt-in.
Lord willing, your actions will not only benefit you, but assist in securing a future for our posterity. Treaty of Peace 2020 serves the unlawful establishment notice that there are those who refuse to accept their voided contract any longer.
On behalf of all five, let your voices finally be heard loud and clear.
Mark Lerner’s Comparison of Treaty of Peace 2020 and the Early Church
In my humble opinion the Treaty of Peace 2020 is very similar to what the Apostles had to do in order to preach the Gospel as they were told to do by Christ Jesus.
The primary contention of Brother Phil Hudok and others is that our Constitution has been voided by elected officials and others who have violated the Constitution by doing such things as creating the Federal Reserve. There is no provision and has never been a provision that allows for the creation of the Federal Reserve. The framers of the Constitution provided for the Constitution to be amended, but not to be ignored. The underlying argument is our Constitution is a contract, and the contract has been broken, thus voiding the Constitution/contract.
The Apostles based on the teaching of Christ Jesus understood there was no need to continue circumcision or the sacrificing of animals. The blood of Christ Jesus was payment for all sins, past, present, and future. God had a covenant with the Jewish people. God did not break the covenant, but in fact honored the covenant by the virgin birth, death on the Cross, and resurrection of Christ Jesus. God told what we now refer to as the Jewish people that Christ Jesus would come in the Old Testament. The crucifixion of Christ Jesus with criminals (Isaiah 53:12) and resurrection of Christ Jesus (Psalm 16:10 and Psalm 49:15) was prophesied. In Micah 5:2 God told us that Christ Jesus would be born in Bethlehem.
The Apostles understood they would have to defy the Pharisees/Rabbis to fulfill what Christ Jesus had told them to do. The argument is much the same as we see today with what Brother Phil is doing. The authority for the Apostles was Christ Jesus, not the Rabbis. The Rabbis did not understand, or did not want to understand that Christ Jesus was the authority, not themselves. The old ways of the Rabbis was correct until Christ Jesus had proven he was and is, Lord and Savior. Christ Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies regarding the coming of Our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus.
In the same way that the Old Testament was correct in terms of dictating authority and other areas, it was the beginning, not the final word or authority. The Old Testament was and is a building block necessary to understand God's complete plan. With the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies God kept His covenant, but the Rabbis/Pharisees ignored God, and His prophetic Word, for their own personal reasons.
The Apostles did what they were commanded to do by Christ Jesus. This meant standing up to the Rabbis/Pharisees and declaring that the Rabbis/Pharisees no longer had authority. Brother Phil and others are doing the same today. Those who understand the Constitution has been ignored in much the same way the Rabbis/Pharisees ignored the prophetic pronouncements of God Almighty, have no other choice but to renounce their citizenship of the United States, to honor their citizenship in His Kingdom.
Recent Treaty of Peace 2020 Video: Points Of Claim + Scriptures And Maxims = Checkmate https://youtu.be/unBKzLrJjGs
The antidote to tyranny is Treaty of Peace 2020. On December 7, 2018, a day said to live in infamy, the document, Conditional Acceptance for Value upon Proof of Claim, left West Virginia and was hand delivered to the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches of the so-called constitutional government in Washington, D.C. 573 points of claim, supported by 400 maxims, 70 Scripture references, and the entire KJV Bible went unanswered. No lawful authorization for government actions outlined by the 573 points of claim has to this day, more than ten months later, ever been presented. After exhausting all Article 3 Section 2avenues for redress of grievances, a new lawful contract J3:16fGsltwthghobS was formed and an award was ordered through arbitration.
The Creator’s blessings require responsibilities. Decide for yourself. The Lord’s free will blessing and responsibility is incorporated into Treaty of Peace 2020.
This is reminiscent of the great monologue from the first episode of The Newsroom.
I was raised in Center, Texas where we treated each other with respect. We didn't eat a lot of fast food because it was considered a treat, not a food group. We drank Kool-Aid and ice tea made from water that came from our kitchen sink. We ate bologna sandwiches, or even tuna (which was in a can not a pouch), PB&J & grilled cheese sandwiches, hot dogs, pot pies, but mostly home made meals consisting of mainly meat, potatoes, vegetable, bread & butter and homemade dessert.
We ate lunch in the cafeteria at school, some did brown bag it but very few. Our food was very healthy, delicious & fresh!
We grew up during a time when we would gather glass bottles to take to the store and use the deposit money to buy penny candy. (We even got a brown paper bag to put the candy in). You could get a lot for just 25 cents. We also mowed lawns, babysat, help neighbors with chores, worked with our dad's in the summer. We went outside a lot to play games, ride bikes, run with siblings, cousins and friends & played hide and seek, kick the can, jump rope, hopscotch, Red Rover, red light, Mother May I, kicker, basket ball even dodge ball. We drank tap water or from the hose outside... bottled water was unheard of!!
No cable t.v. just 3 channels!! Yes THREE!! And if the President was on...That was the ONLY THING ON! We had no microwaves, no cell phones.
We ate hot and cold cereal at the breakfast table before going to school. We watched TV as a family: Gunsmoke, Gilligan's Island, Wonderful World of Disney, Grizzly Adams, Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, Happy Days, Fantasy Island, and Starsky & Hutch. After school, we came home and did homework and chores before going outside or having friends over. And could only watch cartoons on Saturday morning.
If you were bad in school, you got in trouble there and when you got home you got in trouble again because your parents already knew. Paddling was allowed in school and you behaved yourself or else.
We would ride our bikes for hours and talk until the lightning bugs came out. We would make lanterns with the lightning bugs and even pick 4 leaf clovers.
Not every 16 year old automatically expected a brand new car from their parents that they didn't have to worry about paying for. Because their parents were paying for it!
IF YOU GOT A CAR...You worked for it!! And whether you DID pay for it yourself or not....If it was misused in any way whatsoever...doing ANYTHING that you were told NOT to do with it....IT WAS TAKEN AWAY!! Until you could prove you could be responsible and obey the rules!!!
You LEARNED from your parents & grandparents instead of disrespecting them and treating them as if they knew absolutely nothing. What they said was Law!! And you had better know it!!!
If someone had a fight, that's what it was a fist fight and you were back to being friends afterwards or the bullying pretty much ceased. Kids that were around guns were taught how to properly use them and to respect them and never thought of taking a life.
You had to be close enough to home to hear your Mom yelling or Dad whistling to tell you it’s time to come home for dinner. We ate around the dinner table and talked to each other as a family unit. In school we said the Pledge of Allegiance and daily prayer, we stood for the National Anthem & listened to our teachers.
We watched what we said around our elders because we knew If we DISRESPECTED any grown up we would get our behinds whipped, it wasn't called abuse, it was called discipline! We held doors, carried groceries and gave up our seat for an older person without being asked.
You didn't hear curse words on the radio in songs or TV, and if you cursed and got caught you had a bar of soap stuck in your mouth and had to stand in the corner for quite some time. “Please, Thank you, Yes M'am and Yes, Sir" were part of our daily vocabulary! To this day I still say Thank You, I appreciate that, because that’s what I was taught.
I thank God everyday for my Mom and Dad, the way I brought up to believe in God.
Lots of good times and memories.
The good ol' days!
These brilliant words are from American Patriot Christy Borders in Texas. Her father was a great man and a true Patriot. She obviously carries on his legacy by her comments.
LOS ANGELES, Kalifornia (PNN) - November 12, 2018 - If Stan Lee revolutionized the comic book world in the 1960s, which he did, he left as big a stamp - maybe bigger - on the even wider pop culture landscape of today.
Think of Spider Man, the blockbuster movie franchise and Broadway spectacle. Think of Iron Man, another Hollywood gold-mine series personified by its star, Robert Downey, Jr. Think of Black Panther, the box-office superhero smash that shattered big screen racial barriers in the process.
That is to say nothing of the Hulk, the X-Men, Thor, and other film and television juggernauts that have stirred the popular imagination and made many people very rich.
If all that entertainment product can be traced to one person, it would be Stan Lee, who died in Los Angeles on Monday at the age of 95. From a cluttered office on Madison Avenue in Manhattan in the 1960s, he helped conjure a lineup of pulp-fiction heroes that has come to define much of popular culture in the early 21st Century.
Lee was a central player in the creation of those characters and more, all properties of Marvel Comics. Indeed, he was for many the embodiment of Marvel, if not comic books in general, overseeing the company’s emergence as an international media behemoth. A writer, editor, publisher, Hollywood executive, and tireless promoter (of Marvel and of himself), he played a critical role in what comics fans call the medium’s silver age.
Many believe that Marvel, under his leadership and infused with his colorful voice, crystallized that era, one of exploding sales, increasingly complex characters and stories, and growing cultural legitimacy for the medium. (Marvel’s chief competitor at the time, National Periodical Publications, now known as DC - the home of Superman and Batman, among other characters - augured this period, with its 1956 update of its superhero the Flash, but did not define it.)
Under Lee, Marvel transformed the comic book world by imbuing its characters with the self-doubts and neuroses of average people, as well an awareness of trends and social causes, and often, a sense of humor.
In humanizing his heroes, giving them character flaws and insecurities that belied their supernatural strengths, Lee tried to make them real flesh-and-blood characters with personality.
“That’s what any story should have, but comics didn’t have until that point,” said Lee. “They were all cardboard figures.”
Energetic, gregarious, optimistic and alternately grandiose and self-effacing, Lee was an effective salesman, employing a Barnumesque syntax in print to market Marvel’s products to a rabid following.
He charmed readers with jokey, conspiratorial comments and asterisked asides in narrative panels, often referring them to previous issues. In 2003 he told The Los Angeles Times, “I wanted the reader to feel we were all friends, that we were sharing some private fun that the outside world wasn’t aware of.”
Though Lee was often criticized for his role in denying rights and royalties to his artistic collaborators, his involvement in the conception of many of Marvel’s best-known characters is indisputable.
He was born Stanley Martin Lieber on Dec. 28, 1922, in Manhattan, the older of two sons born to Jack Lieber, an occasionally employed dress cutter, and Celia (Solomon) Lieber, both immigrants from Romania. The family moved to the Bronx.
Stanley began reading Shakespeare at 10 while also devouring pulp magazines, the novels of Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Mark Twain, and the swashbuckler movies of Errol Flynn.
He graduated at 17 from DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx, and aspired to be a writer of serious literature. He was set on the path to becoming a different kind of writer when, after a few false starts at other jobs, he was hired at Timely Publications, a company owned by Martin Goodman, a relative who had made his name in pulp magazines and was entering the comics field.
Lee was initially paid $8 a week as an office gofer. Eventually he was writing and editing stories, many in the superhero genre.
At Timely he worked with the artist Jack Kirby (1917-94), who, with a writing partner, Joe Simon, had created the hit character Captain America, and who would eventually play a vital role in Lee’s career. When Simon and Kirby, Timely’s hottest stars, were lured away by a rival company, Lee was appointed chief editor.
As a writer, Lee could be startlingly prolific. “Almost everything I’ve ever written I could finish at one sitting,” he once said. “I’m a fast writer. Maybe not the best, but the fastest.”
Lee used several pseudonyms to give the impression that Marvel had a large stable of writers; the name that stuck was simply his first name split in two. (In the 1970s, he legally changed Lieber to Lee.)
During World War II, Lee wrote training manuals stateside in the Army Signal Corps while moonlighting as a comics writer. In 1947, he married Joan Boocock, a former model who had moved to New York from her native England.
His daughter Joan Celia Lee, who is known as J. C., was born in 1950; another daughter, Jan, died three days after birth in 1953. Lee’s wife died in 2017.
A lawyer for Ms. Lee, Kirk Schenck, confirmed Lee’s death, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
In addition to his daughter, he is survived by his younger brother, Larry Lieber, who drew the Amazing Spider Man syndicated newspaper strip for years.
In the mid-1940s, the peak of the golden age of comic books, sales boomed. But later, as plots and characters turned increasingly lurid (especially at EC, a Marvel competitor that published titles like Tales From the Crypt and The Vault of Horror), many adults clamored for censorship. In 1954, a Senate subcommittee led by Tennessee Democrat Estes Kefauver held hearings investigating allegations that comics promoted immorality and juvenile delinquency.
Feeding the senator’s crusade was the psychiatrist Fredric Wertham’s 1954 anti-comics jeremiad, Seduction of the Innocent. Among other claims, the book contended that DC’s Batman stories - featuring the team of Batman and Robin - were “psychologically homosexual”.
Choosing to police itself rather than accept legislation, the comics industry established the Comics Code Authority to ensure wholesome content. Gore and moral ambiguity were out, but so largely were wit, literary influences, and attention to social issues. Innocuous cookie-cutter exercises in genre were in.
Many found the sanitized comics boring, and - with the new medium of television providing competition - readership, which at one point had reached 600 million sales annually, declined by almost three-quarters within a few years.
With the dimming of superhero comics’ golden age, Lee tired of grinding out generic humor, romance, western and monster stories for what had by then become Atlas Comics. Reaching a career impasse in his 30s, he was encouraged by his wife to write the comics he wanted to, not merely what was considered marketable. Goodman, his boss, spurred by the popularity of a rebooted Flash (and later Green Lantern) at DC, wanted him to revisit superheroes.
Lee took Goodman up on his suggestion, but he carried its implications much further.
In 1961, Lee and Kirby - whom he had brought back years before to the company, now known as Marvel - produced the first issue of The Fantastic Four, about a superpowered team with humanizing dimensions: nonsecret identities, internal squabbles, and in the orange-rock-skinned Thing, self-torment. It was a hit.
Other Marvel titles - like the Lee-Kirby creation The Incredible Hulk, a modern Jekyll-and-Hyde story about a decent man transformed by radiation into a monster - offered a similar template. The quintessential Lee hero, introduced in 1962 and created with the artist Steve Ditko (1927-2018), was Spider Man.
A timid high school intellectual who gained his powers when bitten by a radioactive spider, Spider Man was prone to soul-searching and leavened with wisecracks - a key to the character’s lasting popularity across multiple entertainment platforms, including movies and a Broadway musical.
Lee’s dialogue encompassed Catskills shtick, like Spider Man’s patter in battle; Elizabethan idioms, like Thor’s; and working-class Lower East Side swagger, like the Thing’s. It could also include dime-store poetry, as in this eco-oratory about humans, uttered by the Silver Surfer, a space alien:
“And yet - in their uncontrollable insanity - in their unforgivable blindness - they seek to destroy this shining jewel - this softly spinning
gem - this tiny blessed sphere - which men call Earth!”
Lee practiced what he called the Marvel method. Instead of handing artists scripts to illustrate, he summarized stories and let the artists draw them and fill in plot details as they chose. He then added sound effects and dialogue. Sometimes he would discover on penciled pages that new characters had been added to the narrative. Such surprises (like the Silver Surfer, a Kirby creation and a Lee favorite) would lead to questions of character ownership.
Lee was often faulted for not adequately acknowledging the contributions of his illustrators, especially Kirby. Spider Man became Marvel’s best-known property, but Ditko, its co-creator, quit Marvel in bitterness in 1966. Kirby, who visually designed countless characters, left in 1969. Though he reunited with Lee for a Silver Surfer graphic novel in 1978, their heyday had ended.
Many comic fans believe that Kirby was wrongly deprived of royalties and original artwork in his lifetime, and for years the Kirby estate sought to acquire rights to characters that Kirby and Lee had created together. Kirby’s heirs were long rebuffed in court on the grounds that he had done “work for hire” - in other words, that he had essentially sold his art without expecting royalties.
In September 2014, Marvel and the Kirby estate reached a settlement. Lee and Kirby now both receive credit on numerous screen productions based on their work.
Lee moved to Los Angeles in 1980 to develop Marvel properties, but most of his attempts at live-action television and movies were disappointing. (The series The Incredible Hulk, seen on CBS from 1978 to 1982, was an exception.)
Avi Arad, an executive at Toy Biz, a company in which Marvel had bought a controlling interest, began to revive the company’s Hollywood fortunes, particularly with an animated X-Men series on Fox, which ran from 1992 to 1997. (Its success helped pave the way for the live-action big-screen X-Men franchise, which has flourished since its first installment, in 2000.)
In the late 1990s, Lee was named chairman emeritus at Marvel and began to explore outside projects. While his personal appearances (including charging fans $120 for an autograph) were one source of income, later attempts to create wholly owned superhero properties foundered. Stan Lee Media, a digital content start-up, crashed in 2000 and landed his business partner, Peter F. Paul, in prison for securities fraud. (Lee was never charged.)
In 2001, Lee started POW! Entertainment (the initials stand for “purveyors of wonder”), but he received almost no income from Marvel movies and TV series until he won a court fight with Marvel Enterprises in 2005, leading to an undisclosed settlement costing Marvel $10 million. In 2009, the Walt Disney Company, which had agreed to pay $4 billion to acquire Marvel, announced that it had paid $2.5 million to increase its stake in POW!
In Lee’s final years, after the death of his wife, the circumstances of his business affairs and contentious financial relationship with his surviving daughter attracted attention in news media. In 2018, Lee was embroiled in disputes with POW!, and The Daily Beast and The Hollywood Reporter ran accounts of fierce infighting among Lee’s daughter, household staff and business advisers. The Hollywood Reporter claimed “elder abuse”.
In February 2018, Lee signed a notarized document declaring that three men - a lawyer, a caretaker of Lee’s, and a dealer in memorabilia - had “insinuated themselves into relationships with J. C. for an ulterior motive and purpose,” to “gain control over my assets, property and money.” He later withdrew his claim, but longtime aides of his - an assistant, an accountant, and a housekeeper - were either dismissed or greatly limited in their contact with him.
In a profile in The New York Times in April, a cheerful Lee said, “I’m the luckiest guy in the world,” adding, “My daughter has been a great help to me” and that “life is pretty good” - although he admitted in that same interview, “I’ve been very careless with money.”
Marvel movies, however, have proved a cash cow for major studios, if not so much for Lee. With the blockbuster Spider Man in 2002, Marvel superhero films hit their stride. Such movies (including franchises starring Iron Man, Thor and the superhero team the Avengers, to name but three) together had grossed more than $24 billion worldwide as of April.
Black Panther, the first Marvel movie directed by an African-American (Ryan Coogler) and starring an almost all-black cast, took in about $201.8 million domestically when it opened over the four-day Presidents’ Day weekend this year, the fifth-biggest opening of all time.
Many other film properties are in development, in addition to sequels in established franchises. Characters Lee had a hand in creating now enjoy a degree of cultural penetration they have never before had.
Lee wrote a slim memoir, Excelsior! The Amazing Life of Stan Lee, with George Mair, published in 2002. His 2015 book, Amazing Fantastic Incredible: A Marvelous Memoir (written with Peter David and illustrated in comic-book form by Colleen Doran), pays abundant credit to the artists many fans believed he had shortchanged years before.
Recent Marvel films and TV shows have also often credited Lee’s former collaborators; Lee himself has almost always received an executive producer credit. His cameo appearances in them became something of a tradition. (Even Teen Titans Go! to the Movies, an animated feature in 2018 about a DC superteam, had more than one Lee cameo.) TV shows bearing his name or presence have included the reality series Stan Lee’s Superhumans and the competition show Who Wants to Be a Superhero?
Lee’s unwavering energy suggested that he possessed superpowers himself. (In his 90s he had a Twitter account, @TheRealStanlee.) The National Endowment for the Arts acknowledged as much when it awarded him a National Medal of Arts in 2008. But he was frustrated, like all humans, by mortality.
“I want to do more movies, I want to do more television, more DVDs, more multi-sodes, I want to do more lecturing, I want to do more of everything I’m doing,” he said in With Great Power… The Stan Lee Story, a 2010 television documentary. “The only problem is time. I just wish there was more time.”
By Brent Johnson
June 30, 2018 - I just heard about Harlan Ellison’s death and wish to express my very sincerest condolences. The world has lost a truly great man and he will be sorely missed.
I met Harlan at a Star Trek convention back in 1974. We met at a blackjack game and we hit it off. I was so very impressed by the kind of person he was; his honesty, forthrightness, and genuineness touched me, and I determined to get to know him better, which I did over many years.
I was always amused by how brusque his public persona was, knowing as I did the magnificent and kind (yes, kind) being he really was. It was as if Harlan put on a mask of what many deemed mean in order to weed out those who only wanted to know him because of his celebrity. His attitude was, “If you really want to know the real me then show me by getting past my brusque exterior.”
I remember one science fiction convention in New York, at the old Commodore Hotel. It was around 10:00 pm and he went to the hotel coffee shop for a snack. The coffee shop was closed. He walked out, muttering, “This place would make a nice fire!” Many who heard him thought he meant it and that he was inappropriate, but I knew he would never actually do such a thing and it was a sophisticated attempt at humor.
Harlan had a heart of gold. I recall an incident where he had attended one of the science fiction conventions I organized as a personal favor to me. We were robbed at the convention and I was unable to pay him his full speaker fee as a result. He never said anything about it. I sent him money every month to pay off the debt. I was unable to send him a lot, but I sent him what I could send each month. He told me several years later that he was very appreciative of my integrity and he ultimately forgave the last of the debt.
There are very very few people I have known who I admire. My father was one of them (Harlan actually met my dad once). Patriot Dr. Ron Paul (the former congressman and presidential candidate) is another. Harlan is the only other person I admire. I respect and love many, but I do not admire (meaning look up to) people. I admired Harlan. He stood by his beliefs, and never compromised his values (though he was often asked to do so).
I remember reading Memos from Purgatory, his first published book. He went into one of the toughest areas of New York City and became a gang member in order to learn about that way of life. He had the courage of his convictions, and inspired me (and I am sure many others) by his presence.
The world has lost a truly great man. I will grieve his loss for some time. He will be missed.
With much Love and the utmost of respect,
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