San Diego Comic Con 2011. Lots of creators to see, lots of cosplay, thousands of panels, millions of comics, don’t know how many booths and an entire town devoted to the covering of geekery in all its varied forms. And amidst all the craziness, there he stands: the Man. Stan Lee, father of the Marvel Universe we know today, was there to tirelessly present lots of his new comic book creations, do guest appearances and much more — and making it look so simple and fun, always wearing his big smile and running from one place to another almost like a teenager. And it was at one of his appearances at Marvel’s Monster Trucks in San Diego’s Gaslamp District that Comics Bulletin’s Community Manager, Sam Salama Cohén, had the chance to chat with him about all things Stan, making one of his lifelong dreams come true.
The result? Go read it! Excelsior!
Sam Salama Cohén: Stan, it is an honor, thank you for this interview.
Stan Lee: My pleasure!
Salama Cohén: After all these years, working with so many characters, and creating so many characters, had you ever thought that they were going to become so popular?
Lee: Well, not really, I just hoped that the books would sell so I could keep my job and be able to pay the rent [laughs].
Salama Cohén: [laughs] And how is it seeing all the characters you created in the movies, in so many merchandising, even in these crazy cars? [We were surrounded by a plethora of Marvel character themed Monster Trucks.] How do you feel? Do you feel proud?
Lee: I’m very proud and I still find it hard to even believe, but it’s a wonderful feeling, I’m very proud.
Salama Cohén: Yeah, because then, in the ’60s, superhero comics were thought of as a trend, like western comics or horror comics had been before for Marvel…
Lee: That’s right! I had written all sorts of comics. I had written crime comics, and western, and horror, and humor, and romance and war…
Salama Cohén: That’s right, that’s right…
Lee: Superheroes were something else that I did, but they are the ones that became popular, and they lasted all these years. In fact, even more than lasting, they kept growing all these years…
Salama Cohén: From all the people you’ve worked with at Marvel… Steve [Ditko], Jack Kirby, John Buscema… who’s your favorite artist and why?
Lee: I really couldn’t say that, they were all so great, that each one of them… Jack could do anything, but so could John Buscema, and John Romita, and Gene Colan and Gil Kane…
Salama Cohén: Yeah, yeah… each in their own way.
Lee: They were all wonderful artists, and more than that, they were great storytellers.
Salama Cohén: That’s right…
Lee: They not only drew well, but they knew how to draw a page so that the story flowed smoothly and excitedly…They were all masters at what they did.
Salama Cohén: Because at first you wrote the entire plot, but then sometimes you just gave them the guidelines for the plot, right?
Lee: That’s right, after we got started, after they got familiar with the characters, I would let them put in a lot of the details themselves and then I would just write the copy to smooth that all out.
Salama Cohén: Yesterday I was at a Spotlight panel with Roy Thomas, which is one of my other favorite Marvel creators…
Lee: And who else?
Salama Cohén: Well, you, Roy Thomas and Steve Englehart…
Salama Cohén: …are my favorite Marvel creators. It was funny, because they said: Stan Lee, after all these years in comics has become so popular but not only in comics, he’s like a superstar! Now you’ve got your TV shows, your POW! Company… did you ever think it was going to be this big when you were just doing comics?
Lee: Oh, no, never. I never in a million years suspected it. As I may have mentioned, I just hoped to keep my job and be able to pay the rent!
Salama Cohén: Another thing that Roy mentioned was that you always loved acting, but you never got the chance! Now with all these crazy Marvel movies you are getting the chance!
Lee: At least I get to do cameos, and that’s fun!
Salama Cohén: Which cameo did you like the most?
Lee: Oh, I liked every one of them. Wait till you see the one in Spider-Man, that’s very funny.
Salama Cohén: Out of all these crazy cars, which one would you drive? Which character would you drive? Thor, Hulk…?
Lee: Maybe Thor, cause…
Salama Cohén: Thor!
Lee: I mean, how often can you get a chance to drive a god?
Salama Cohén: Stan, tell me — this is as a fan — who do you think is more iconic: Spider-Man or you?
Lee: Oh, I think it’s a very close call [laughs].
Salama Cohén: [laughs] Ok, thank you very much, Stan!
Lee: Ok, good talking to you! Very good!