About the Author
Stan Lee was the former head writer, editorial and art director, publisher, and chairman of Marvel Comics, where he created or co-created enduring characters including Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Incredible Hulk, the Fantastic Four and many others. As the defining editorial voice for Marvel he introduced a generation to a new, more humanized approach to superheroes.
On June 24, 1998, barnesandnoble.com on AOL was pleased to welcome Stan Lee to our Authors series for his regular monthly appearance. The creator of Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk, and The X-Men, to name only a few of his brainchildren, Stan Lee is the patriarch of the Marvel dynasty. A discounted selection of works by Stan "the Man" are available at Keyword: bn. 'Nuff said.
Welcome to our monthly chat featuring the master of Marvel myth and mirthStan Lee!
Marlene T: Good evening, Stan. It's nice to see you here again!
Stan Lee: Hi, heroes!
Marlene T: Do you have anything you'd like to share with us before we get to the audience questions?
Stan Lee: Nope! I'm your obedient servantat your beck and callso whap me with some questions! If I don't know the answers I'll fake 'em, as usual!
Marlene T: [laughs] OK, here we go!
Question: Mr. Lee, many 12-year-olds idolize sports figures like Michael Jordan. However, you are my son's hero! He's sitting beside me and wants to know what's your favorite book?
Stan Lee: Actually, I have dozens of favorites. Everything by Mark Twain, Conan Doyle and H. G. Wells.
Question: Mr. Lee, do you think that the decline in comics is due to our illiterate society and this nation's turn to the television?
Stan Lee: There isn't that much of a decline in comics! Mostly, the problem is there aren't enough stores to sell 'em.
Question: Mr. Lee, have you ever approached and discussed yourcomics with someone you've seen reading them on the street?
Stan Lee: Mostly people reading comics approach me, and it's always a kick to talk to them. Hey, call me Stan, OK?
Question: What motivated you to start writing?
Stan Lee: Greed! And hunger! Basically, I really love to write. I can't believe I get paid to do what I enjoy so much
Question: Stan Lee. THE NAME AMONG NAMES! THE SULTAN OF SOAP BOX! I got a question. When will you visit the Marvel Mania restaurant again? Do you think you've met your biggest fan yet?
Stan Lee: My biggest fan is someone six-feet-six! I go to the Marvel Mania restaurant at least once a weeklove it!
Question: Which characters, if any, were created to portray your own qualities and beliefs?
Stan Lee: Almost all of 'em! But especially the Silver Surfer, and often Thor.
Question: Stan, out of all the heroes you've created, who is your favorite? Who is your favorite villain you've created?
Stan Lee: I'm kinda partial to Spidey, and Doc Doom is my all-time favorite baddie.
Question: What is it like to create the web slinger?
Stan Lee: It was great. Funny thing is, no one ever knew he'd catch on so big.
Question: Hey, Stan, what's your take on the sales of, and the general state of the comics industry today?
Stan Lee: Are we out of questions?
Marlene T: Never; not with this group.
Stan Lee: Sales are picking up. The mags are looking better than ever. I'm totally optimistic about comicsespecially Marvel's!
Question: I heard there was going to be a 13-part miniseries of Spidey, and maybe Peter Parker retiring as Spiderman or something. What's the deal about that?
Stan Lee: Hey, it's all a big secret. Mackie and Bob Harras would kill me if I told!
Question: Stan, if you could have any of your characters' powers, what would it be?
Stan Lee: Aw, I've got enough super power now. Couldn't handle any more!
Question: Stan, is there anything that the Marvel writers of today have done with the characters you created that you really haven't been too pleased with?
Stan Lee: One character I never knew what to do with: Diablo. I liked his name, and that was it. My one big failure!
Question: Stan, I am an ambitious comic-book drawer, and I was wondering what would I do to get my drawings looked at by a comic-book company?
Stan Lee: Just send 'em to Marvel, care of the Submissions Editor. Good luck!
Question: Mr. Lee, do you feel that the passing of the multiple-cover gimmick era has been good for comics, in that quality, not collector speculation, is once again the most important consideration in the creation of the books?
Stan Lee: Ab-so-lute-ly! Who says I can't be brief?!!!
Question: Hey Stan, do you think another X-Men cartoon is possible?
Stan Lee: Anything's possibleespecially at mixed-up Marvel.
Question: Would it be OK if I sent in some comics to be autographed?
Stan Lee: Surebut not too many at a time.
Question: AOL, how can you schedule one of the greatest Yankees of all time during the Yankee game? [Editor's noteThis portion of the question refers to AOL LIVE guest Yogi Berra, who was chatting directly prior to Stan's chat.] On a positive note, this is the best guest spot I've ever seen for LIVE.
Stan Lee: Thanx, O Great Judge of Literature and Guest Spots!
Question: What was the first comic you ever created, and how old were you at the time?
Stan Lee: I was about 17. I think it was called "Hurricane"a guy who ran fast or somethingor maybe it was "The Destroyer." I never knew anyone would ask years later, so I didn't pay attention!
Question: Stan, if Spider-Man could have one more power, what would it be?
Stan Lee: The power to sell twice as many copies of each issue! Gotcha!
Question: What is your most memorable moment at Marvel?
Stan Lee: That's a tough one. Probably when the sales figures of the Fantastic Four came in and we saw we had a monster hit.
Question: Stan, what are you doing lately?
Stan Lee: Answering all these questions on the Web. And in my spare time, working on movie, TV, and animation projects.
Question: When can we expect the next Marvel movie to come to the big screen?
Stan Lee: The next one will be "Blade"it'll be out real soonstarring Wes Snipes. And it's really great!
Question: Stan, when you created the characters of Spider-Man, The X-Men, etc. in the early '60's, did you think that they'd still be going strong more than 30 years later, as they clearly have done?
Stan Lee: Nah, I didn't have a clue. It's still hard for me to believe, but, y'know somethingI love it!
Question: How is the Marvel Park coming along in Florida?
Stan Lee: Terrific!!! It opens next year. Y'all come, hear?
Question: Do you like Wolverine with or without his adamantium? And why?
Stan Lee: I like him with the adamantium. But hey, what do I know?
Question: Stan, do you have any family members who have followed in your footsteps and work in the comic industry?
Stan Lee: My brother, Larry Lieber, who used to write and draw "The Rawhide Kid" and now pencils the daily Spidey strip in the newspapers.
Question: Stan, will there be anymore made-for-television Marvel movies, or maybe a series?
Stan Lee: I sure hope so.
Question: Stan, did you like Star Wars?
Stan Lee: Loved it. Can't wait for the new ones.
Question: Thought you were great in "Mallrats." Will you work with Kevin Smith again?
Stan Lee: I wish he'd ask me. He was a great guy, a great directorand hey, he made me a star!!!
Question: Some kids a couple years ago were very into Power Rangers. Were you like that as a kid? If not, what made you get into comics and characters that could do incredible things?
Stan Lee: As a kid I was into Tarzan and any Errol Flynn movie, like "Captain Blood." I was lucky to get into comics where I could keep doing wild stuff.
Question: Have you had an opportunity to preview any of the upcoming Marvel/Events comics? If so, what did you think of them?
Stan Lee: They're merely sensational. Miss 'em at your own risk! (Typical Stan Lee shameless plug!)
Question: What do you think are the main reasons for the enduring appeal of comic books?
Stan Lee: Simple: They're just plain fun. They're enjoyable and exciting. What more couldja want?
Question: Stan, do you ever plan to write any comics again?
Stan Lee: If I ever get the time, I'd love to. It's the most fun ya can have without working!
Question: Stan, do you like the present-day comic art, as to compared to the books in the '60's?
Stan Lee: Look, I'm prejudiced. But I like 'em both. They're different from each other, but they both have their great features.
Question: What is your favorite baseball team, Mr. Stan?
Stan Lee: The L.A. Dodgers. But I liked 'em better years ago when they were "doze bums," the Brooklyn Dodgers!
Question: Stan, what year did you create Captain America, and what age were you at the time?
Stan Lee: I'm sorry to say I didn't create him; Joe Simon and Jack Kirby did. But I wrote some of his early stories from the time I was 17 on.
Marlene T: We have time for one last question, Stan.
Stan Lee: Okay.
Question: What have been some of the richest sources for your characters and stories?
Stan Lee: Everything I've ever seen, read, or heard. As with every writer, we all write from our experiences. So keep your eyes open, heroesobserve everything, but not too muchI don't need lots more competition!
Marlene T: Do you have any comments or questions for us?
Stan Lee: My comment is I think you're all the greatest! My question isdamnit, can't think of any! I guess that means I know everything! EXCELSIOR!
Marlene T: We already knew that! [laughs] Thanks so much for being here with us tonight. See you again next month.
MarvC Web: Thanks Stan! We look forward to seeing you again next month.
Stan Lee: Enjoyed it, gang!