Stan Lee, co-creator of comic staples like Spider-Man, X-Men, Iron Man, and others, recently did something very special for a boy with autism — he sent him a drawing of his favorite superhero.
— NYT Metro Desk (@NYTMetro) February 21, 2015
How did Stan hear about the young boy? Well, Jamel Hunter was featured in a New York Times article in December. He loves Spider-Man, so for his 8th birthday, his mother put together a Spider-Man party for him — the first party Jamel had ever had. As is common among those on the spectrum, parties, loud noises, and breaks in routine can cause meltdowns, so this was a big step for him.
Jamel is the youngest of five. His mother has Blount’s Disease, and her kidneys are failing, so she sometimes has to use a motorized wheelchair to get around. This has made it impossible for her to work, so the family lives off of social security benefits.
The party took up a room in the housing project’s community center in East Harlem, and boasted Spider-Man cupcakes, balloons, a spider made of frosting, decorations, and a homemade game featuring Spider-Man that was akin to pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey. A clown even painted Jamel’s face to look like Spider-Man. Jamel disappeared for a while during the party to escape the noise — which his family expected — but at the end of the night, he had stated, “I was happy with my birthday party.” [content-ad]
After the initial article came out, Lee’s neighbor (jazz musician Corky Hale) brought it to Lee’s attention — and encouraged him to reach out to Jamal. Stan agreed. “How could I not?” he told CNN. Spider-Man is a New Yorker, just like Jamal, and since the superhero is a teenager, young people can easily relate to him.
So Stan Lee drew Jamel a picture. Although he wrote Spider-Man, he wasn’t the artist for the series — Spider-Man was first drawn by Steve Ditko. But Lee could still do a fine sketch of the teenage hero, so he did exactly that, adding a speech bubble that said, “Hi Jamel!” and his signature on the bottom. Michael Wilson, a writer for the NY Times, delivered the drawing to Jamal’s home in East Harlem.Whizzco