Interview: Stan Lee!

Say the name Stan Lee and any of a number of superheroes will come to mind. As will animated features and movies, books, television shows, newspaper comic strips…the list goes on. But now add to that King of the Expos, for Stan Lee’s COMIKAZE 2013 finished up with thousands of spectators filling the South Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center for a heavy dose of pop-culture fix. Was it easy to get the attention of Stan “The Man” Lee to ask a few questions? No, but we did it anyway.

Man Cave Daily
As a writer, was there pressure to come up with stories that hadn’t been done before?

Stan Lee
I never thought of it as telling a story that hadn’t been told before. I wanted to write something that I’d want to read — that’s what I tried to do, to come up with characters and situations that I myself would be interested in. I never thought, “Is this something that hasn’t been done before?” I just thought, “Is this something that I’d like to read?”

Man Cave Daily
Among your long list of accomplishments is having written an extraordinarily lengthy run of Fantastic Four. Did you ever have trouble coming up with ideas?

Say hello to angst-ridden Superheroes

The monster comic that brought back superheroes. (credit: Marvel)

Stan Lee
Funny thing is, not only did I never reach a point where I couldn’t think of any more ideas, I thought of so many things that I never had enough time to write them all down. What you might call “writer’s block?” I never had that. I was always thinking of new stories, and I found that when you know your characters you can always think of new stories.  I always just based them on the characters themselves.  I’d think what might happen to Sue Storm of the Fantastic Four if Namor the Sub-Mariner came to New York and fell in love with her, and he decides he wants to kidnap her and bring her back to his underwater home?  Well obviously then Reed Richards and the others would have to go and rescue her.  So you see, most of the stories I came up with were based on the characters themselves and what might happen if this character did that and so forth.

Man Cave Daily
You spent many years working with the late, great comic book artist Jack Kirby. What was the process like, with you doing the stories and him the artwork?

Stan Lee
I would tell him [Jack Kirby] in a few words what the story was — like I just told you, “The Sub-Mariner comes and kidnaps Sue and the rest of the FF has to rescue her.”  Okay, maybe I’d give him a few more details than that, but that was the basic procedure. Then it was up to him to draw that as a 20-page story. He would do that and then give me all the penciled drawings. Then I would put in all the dialogue balloons, the captions and the effects — and it was fun! It was like doing a crossword puzzle. Sometimes I’d not “get” exactly what he had drawn and why he had drawn it the way he did, but I never had a problem in making it fit to the story. And that’s what kept it interesting — you’d never get bored because I would never know beforehand what his drawings would look like. So when I saw them I had to think of the dialogue and the captions and make it all exactly match to the artwork now in front of me.

Man Cave Daily
Considering all the multimedia that is now out there to look at — movies, TV, apps — why do you think that comics are still a “draw” in today’s high-tech age?

Where pop-culture thrives

Where pop-culture thrives (credit: Pow! Entertainment)

Stan Lee
I have a theory about it. When you were a kid you probably enjoyed fairy tales, every kid does. Kids love to hear about giants and monsters and wicked witches and princes who rescue the princess and so forth. When you get a little older and you can’t read fairy tales anymore, suddenly along come superhero stories — which to me are just fairy tales for grownups. And by reading superhero stories, you’re able to recapture the fun and thrills you had when you were a kid reading fairly tales. I think it’s just that simple.

We bet the theme song's playing in your head right now.

We bet the theme song’s playing in your head right now.

Marshal Rosenthal is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer specializing in technology, consumer electronics and pop culture. Visit his website.

Mark Setrakian in exo-suit with training robot used in the time challenge featured in the premiere episode.

Mark Setrakian in exo-suit with training robot used in the time challenge featured in the premiere episode.

Marshal found the sound of the future in Christopher Tyng’s 31st Century Beat and learned how to build his own battle bot when he interviewed Sy-Fy’s Mark Setrakian in Slaughterbots: Roll Out!

More from Marshal Rosenthal

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