‘Tis Roy Thomas’ Stan-Fan Comics Fanzine!
Verily, In all the universe, there was only one such as Stan Lee!
In the USA
No. 161 November 2019
A full-issue tribute to
STAN LEE. ’Nuff Said.
Galactus TM & © Marvel Characters, Inc.
Thus, Shall I 1
Ponder the significance of such a unique being as he!
A 1975 Radio Interview With STAN LEE
Conducted On-Air By Carole Hemingway, KABC-Talk Radio, October 1975 Transcribed by Steven Tice – with Additions by Rand Hoppe
CAROLE HEMINGWAY: Hi, everybody. The time is 9:05 at KABC-Talk Radio… this is ridiculous! Why did I invite you here? [chuckles; Lee laughs] Who can talk about comicbooks? Nobody can talk about comicbooks for an entire hour. They’re boring and violent… bloodshed!
EDITOR’S INTRO: In October 1975, Stan Lee, then still living on the East Coast and serving as Marvel Comics’ publisher, made one of his periodic trips to Los Angeles—in this case, to help promote the new Simon & Schuster/Fireside hardcover Son of Origins of Marvel Comics, the sequel to 1974’s Origins of Marvel Comics. Both books were composed of stories he had scripted in the 1960s for the early days of Marvel, with Lee also providing new prose introductions to each tale. One of his most memorable appearances was on talk-radio station KABC in L.A., where the nighttime hostess was Carole Hemingway. Hemingway had begun on the station a year earlier, and had quickly become a very popular presence on the nighttime air waves, remaining there until 1982, and later having another such radio gig (though in the afternoon) from 1986-93. She also later owned a media consulting firm operating out of Beverly Hills, California, and for some time wrote a nationally syndicated newspaper column of social commentary.
STAN LEE: Just ask me some questions. Just introduce the thing. There is violence, there is bloodshed, but these are Marvel Comics, which are a model of decorum. HEMINGWAY: No, no, no… I’ve been reading this… LEE: You lucky devil… HEMINGWAY: No, no, no… you’re the devil. LEE: The introductions that I wrote, did you know… HEMINGWAY: No, they are pretty bad, actually. LEE: Well, it’s been nice seeing you! I’m glad the settings are not turned on or anything. [chuckles]
Carole Hemingway & Stan Lee bookend the cover of the brand new 1975 Simon & Schuster/Fireside hardcover book that Lee had come west to ballyhoo: Son of Origins of Marvel Comics, with its dramatic painted cover by John Romita. [Cover art TM & © Marvel Characters, Inc.]
When I first read a transcription of some of the latter part of this hour-long interview with Stan Lee, I thought—as, apparently, did a few other readers as opposed to listeners— that Carole and Stan had gotten off on the wrong foot and were hostile to each other. However, after the entire talk was transcribed, it was apparent that it was nothing but a good-natured verbal “love & insult fest,” perhaps a welcome aperitif to all the radio shows on which Stan did little but plug product. He and Hemingway made a good match—and when I discovered that none other than the legendary Jack Kirby had called in near the end of the show to toss in his 2¢ worth (at a time when he had only recently returned to Marvel for what would become, alas, merely a three-year stay), I decided that it had to be spotlighted in this celebration of Stan the Man….
HEMINGWAY: This is Stan Lee, by the way. He originated Marvel Comics and all those people with some sort of extra-fantastic power. We have Marvel Girl, Cyclops, Iceman, Iron Man, Magneto, Wasp, Silver Surfer, Ant-Man…
LEE: I love The Silver Surfer. HEMINGWAY: He’s mean and cruel. LEE: No, he’s sweet and adorable—almost Christ-like in his aspect and demeanor, and the college kids are really into The Silver Surfer. HEMINGWAY: They’re into The Silver Surfer… LEE: There’s a lot of philosophy… Your problem is…
Conducted On-Air By Carole Hemingway
LEE: It is “Stan space Lee.” I hate everybody saying, “Stanley what?” I thought of changing of my name to “Stan Lee What,” so when people say, “Stanley what?” I can say, “You’re right. HEMINGWAY: We have Stan Lee What on the program. If you can possibly think of anything to talk about comicbooks, please call in. LEE: You’re too good-looking for radio. HEMINGWAY: Oh, really? LEE: I’d like you to have a TV show. HEMINGWAY: I like Stan Lee a little better. Go ahead… LEE: I’m mad about you. I’ve been interviewed by so many people and they’re just people. Then, I come in here, and here’s this doll who is speaking rotten to me over the microphone! [Hemingway chuckles] I’ve got fifty minutes left to make her a comic fan… to win her heart and her affections. And I have a cold in the nose to boot! [chuckles] There’s no way! HEMINGWAY: Let’s see. Can he, or can he not do it? LEE: This is the way we do our comic strips, see? Stay with us and see what happens. HEMINGWAY: Stay with us and I’ll give you some phone numbers: 870-7263 is our number in Los Angeles, in the Valley, 981-7900, in the South Bay area, 644-0790. LEE: You said that dramatically! HEMINGWAY: Wasn’t that beautiful? [Ad comes on about cutting taxes for 1975: Glendale Federal Savings]
“Sentinel Of The Spaceways!” The splash page of The Silver Surfer #1 (Aug. 1968). Script by Stan Lee… pencils by John Buscema… inks by Joe Sinnott. He was called the “Sentinel of the Spaceways” on the cover—even though, ever since Fantastic Four #50, he had been exiled to Earth by edict of his former master, Galactus. [TM & © Marvel Characters, Inc.]
HEMINGWAY: Oh, yes, tell me about my problem…
HEMINGWAY: KABC-Talk Radio time is now 9:10. Now there are “Goodyear Tires”… “Goodyear makes the goin’ great!,” etc., etc. I have to ask you, Stan Lee: What kind of tires are on that fantastic limousine you drove up to the studio in? LEE: The only thing that would tear me away from you is if I had Hugh Hefner’s three-block long Mercedes limousine waiting outside.
LEE: Obviously, you’re not a comicbook buff, but we have about fifty-five minutes left, so I will proselytize you, if you’ll forgive me. I think we should do something with you and turn you into a real human being. HEMINGWAY: [belly laughter] LEE: You’re a nice person… a lousy human being, but a nice person. HEMINGWAY: This is Stan Lee from Marvel Comics... LEE: You go out for coffee and I’ll handle the show… HEMINGWAY: Daredevil and Marvel Girl and all these people… LEE: The X-Men… HEMINGWAY: What’s the matter with your voice? LEE: I’ve got this terrible cold. See, when I live in New York where it’s foggy and gloomy and smoggy and dirty and dingy and terrible, I’m as healthy as hell. I come out here to beautiful Los Angeles and I get sick. I’m going to sue the city of Los Angeles. HEMINGWAY: Please don’t. We have enough problems. [Lee chuckles] This is Stan Lee…
Forget The Fantastic Four! This Is The Fantastic Flivver! Stan Lee some years after this interview, with his 1987 Mercedes 420 SEL. Though he joked about his car that night being borrowed from Hugh Hefner (whom, by coincidence, he would wind up virtually playing in a 21st-century film cameo), Stan did have some posh cars over the years.
A 1975 Radio Interview With Stan Lee
HEMINGWAY: Will you marry me? LEE: Eagerly. Let me describe Carole to you [listeners]. Do the people know what you look like? HEMINGWAY: No! LEE: She’s got that short, fluffy, auburn hair and great lips! Sensational eyes. Tall, thin, and lean and very passionate-looking. [Hemingway chuckles] I’ve got to give you a lift in that Mercedes. This may be a great night of all time for Los Angeles romance. HEMINGWAY: Oh! How did you get in that Mercedes? Is it really Hugh Hefner’s? LEE: I got in trembling. Yeah, yeah. See, Simon & Schuster, which publishes the Son of Origins of Marvel Comics, which you’re going to talk about in great lengths very shortly… HEMINGWAY: Which we’re going to push for you so you’re going to sell a lot…
Cover Story (Left:) Marie Severin’s earlier sketch intended as the layout for the cover of the 1974 Simon & Schuster/Fireside book Origins of Marvel Comics, spotlighting Spider-Man, Captain America, et al. However, a different art approach was used for that one. (Right:) Instead, John Romita used Marie’s sketch as the starting point for the cover he drew and colored (as seen here) and later painted as the cover of Son of Origins of Marvel Comics. Both reproduced from the Al Bigley Archives. [TM & © Marvel Characters, Inc.]
LEE: … so I can someday buy a Mercedes like that. They arranged for me to have a car to take me here, because obviously, this place is nowhere. [Hemingway laughs] Instead of the usual Cadillac limousine, I got a call: “Hello, Mr. Lee, this is Roger, your chauffeur.” “Well, okay, Rog. Look, I got a beige sweater, a mustache, and I’m kind of confused-looking. You’ll spot me when I come downstairs.” He said, “Well, I’ve got the only black Mercedes limousine in the courtyard; you can’t miss it.” I said, “You’re kidding!” I raced downstairs and he wasn’t kidding! It’s got one of these back seats where two seats face the other seats. It’s the biggest thing you ever saw! Everybody was staring! I almost said, “Forget the radio show; just keep driving!”
CALLER: Yeah. LEE: Ed, you’re almost as wonderful as Carole! CALLER: Along with Confucius and other people like that. This is one of the movers and shakers of our time. HEMINGWAY: This is your brother, no doubt. LEE: No, no! I wish he were! CALLER: He is incredible. Among other things, he has shaped the whole lives of people…
HEMINGWAY: Ah! I’ve gotta see it! We never would have met!
HEMINGWAY: Who is this calling?
LEE: I’m so glad we made it. I’m so glad we did!
LEE: Be careful, Carole. I’ll snap my fingers and you’ll vanish.
HEMINGWAY: I can see how you originated. I spent the whole day reading comicbooks.
HEMINGWAY: Ed, who is this calling, saying all these things?
LEE: That’s probably why you’re so articulate and interesting! Were you here before I came on? HEMINGWAY: Not with the same vibrancy and intellectual timbre that you have brought to the show… [talks into phone] Carole Hemingway, you’re on Talk Radio. Welcome to the show.
LEE: I don’t know, but he’s a great guy. CALLER: I’m just somebody who’s been profoundly influenced by Marvel Comics. HEMINGWAY: Okay. Tell me why.
CALLER: Hello, Carole. This is Ed.
CALLER: Let me tell you why. Here’s Spider-Man spending half of the comicbook trying to get enough plane fare to get to fight the villain. There’s a beautiful element of klutz that no other comic has ever thought to have done.
HEMINGWAY: Yes, Ed.
HEMINGWAY: What did you say?
CALLER: I just gotta say, it’s an honor and a privilege to have this man in town.
LEE: “Klutz.” Our characters are the Woody Allens of the super-hero world.
HEMINGWAY: [incredulously] Stan Lee?
HEMINGWAY: In other words, for people who don’t know: they are super-heroes that are flawed.
LEE: Mention my name, too…
Tributes To A Titan
A Few Of Those Who Worked For & With Him Remember STAN LEE Assembled by Roy Thomas
EDITOR’S INTRODUCTION: Because another issue of Alter Ego (#150, to be exact) was dedicated to Stan Lee in conjunction with his 95th birthday, just under two years ago, I felt freer than I otherwise might have in setting up the precise contents for this one, which will be on sale nearly one year after his passing on November 12, 2018. I invited a handful of key people who worked editorially for Marvel Comics in New York City when Stan was on the scene as editor and/or publisher to share their thoughts about working with him. I realize I could have approached any number more, and perhaps I should have. Maybe some of those folks will share their thoughts with us for a future issue.
The first tribute-payers below are three of the surviving gents who served under publisher Stan as his editor-in-chief, presented in the order in which they served: myself, Marv Wolfman, and Jim Shooter. Two others, Len Wein and Archie Goodwin, sadly, have left us—and Gerry Conway, who served for a few weeks in early 1976, sent his apologies but did not at present feel up to putting his thoughts on paper. Others accepting our invitation were Tony Isabella, who came on staff in the early 1970s; David Anthony Kraft, who signed on a year or so later; and Steve Englehart, only briefly a staffer but another of Marvel’s top writers of the 1970s. Here are their thoughts, in roughly the order in which they were piped aboard, beginning with myself, because I came to work for Stan in July of 1965 and served as the company-wide editor (Stan and I agreed on the hyphenated title “editor-in-chief”) from 1972 to 1974… a period of a few months over two years….
A Trio Of Tributes by Roy Thomas Because I’ve written at length about Stan in many places, including in Alter Ego #150 and in the sizable Taschen book The Stan Lee Story (not to mention in 2014’s 75 Years of Marvel: From the Golden Age to the Silver Screen), I’ve decided to mostly limit my thoughts to those related to my final face-to-face meeting with him—on November 10, 2018—as it would turn out, less than two days before he passed away. First, though, I thought I’d reprint the few paragraphs I wrote in 2017 as an “Afterword” for the first, 1200-copy edition (counting 200 “artist’s proofs”) of The Stan Lee Story, which by sheer coincidence would go on sale at bookstores around the time of Stan’s death. That page would be replaced in the general edition of the book (published in July 2019) by a truncated account of our final encounter. Here is my original “Afterword,” by courtesy of copyright-holder Taschen: Stan Lee is a whirlwind I first encountered in the pages of Marvel Comics in 1961… then in person four years later. Ever since the latter day, he has been a dominant presence in my life, whether I was employed by Marvel at the time or not. For the next several years after 1965, he was for me a one-man course of instruction on the way to write—and to edit—thrilling yet humanized comicbook heroes.
Beyond “Bullpen Bulletins” The cover of the New York Daily News for Nov. 13, 2018, the day after Stan Lee’s passing. With thanks to Michael T. Gilbert. [TM & © the respective trademark & copyright holders.]
Until I met him, I’d had other comics writers and editors after whom I might have patterned myself; but standing on his right hand, morning after weekday morning for years, mostly swept those other influences away, much like those rivers that Hercules channeled through the Augean stables. For here, I quickly realized, was a man who was very clearly in command of what he was doing as both writer and editor… and who knew how to get the best, the very best, out of writers and artists (and other editors) alike. This book, as was surely apparent long before you reached this page, is not and never was intended to be a biography. It is, rather, the story of one man’s—of Stan the Man’s—journey through the vine-encrusted jungles of 20th- and 21st-century popular culture, both reacting to what had come before and greatly influencing what has come after. In harness with some of the finest action and humor artists ever to wander into the mad, mad world of comicbooks, and working from his own personal and commercial instincts, only rarely with a preconceived road map, he charted a course that has been a pathway for all who have come since, whether they know it or not. (And mostly they do.) Working with and for him, in one capacity or another, for much of the past 50-plus years has been a privilege and good fortune of which a boy in the trans-Mississippi Midwest could scarcely have dreamed when first reading the four-color exploits of Captain America, the Human Torch, and the Sub-Mariner in the latter 1940s. Once, when it had abruptly occurred to him that there was an 18-year age gap between the two of us, Stan squinted at me and said, “You know, I could have been your father!” In many ways, Stan… you damn near were. My manager/pal John Cimino gave his POV of the events of November 10, 2018, in this issue’s guest editorial on pp. 2 & 3 of this issue. Here is my own, an expansion of the necessarily brief remarks that appear in the “Afterword” of the general edition of The Stan Lee Story. Both versions are based on notes I wrote on November 12th of last year— the day after I’d flown back from L.A. to South Carolina and the very morning I learned of Stan’s passing:
Tributes To A Titan
Always Leave ’Em Laughing! Roy and Stan share a laugh just prior to RT’s departure on November 10, 2018. Seen in the background is Jon Bolerjack, Stan’s attentive caregiver and “handler” during the last few months of his life. Photo taken by John Cimino.
As we were about to get into Chandler’s car outside, Stan’s daughter J.C. drove up. We hadn’t seen each other in some years, and never really knew one another well, but we exchanged effusive greetings and I reminded her how around 1970 Stan had given my first wife and me the adorable little poodle, Samantha, that a younger J.C. had formerly carried around in her big handbag, even bringing her into the Marvel offices on occasion. Then it was time to go. A few hours later, I was on a big jet headed back to the Carolinas. And, sadly, less than 48 hours after our brief visit, Stan passed away. I was both surprised… and not surprised. I had half expected him to go ever since his wife Joan had passed away the previous year… but I could also have easily visualized his summoning up the strength (had he wanted to) to go on for several years more. I’m eternally grateful to John Cimino and Chandler Rice for their help in setting up that flying trip… and to Jon Bolerjack for being open to, even enthusiastic about it. It meant even more to me than you can imagine. A couple of months later, on January 30, 2019, Stan’s company POW! Entertainment joined forces with movie director (and Stan chum) Kevin Smith and others to host a memorial event titled “Excelsior!”at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, where so many of Marvel’s recent string of hit films had played… and where, a few years earlier, Stan had had his handprints immortalized in cement. I couldn’t attend, but at their invitation (and arranged in part by Michael Uslan), Dann filmed me saying the few words I would have spoken, had I been there:
Stan Lee Memorial Remarks Hi, Stan. This is my chance to thank you for all that you’ve meant to my life these past fifty-plus years. First, as a reader back in 1961, you changed my view of what a comicbook could be, when you and Jack Kirby assaulted my senses with the very first issue of The Fantastic Four. Then, four years later, you hired me to be your assistant, your protégé, your… whatever. I was happy to go along for the ride, and I’ve never regretted making that decision. I’ve never forgotten that morning after the big power blackout on the East Coast in November of ’65. Denny O’Neil and I stumbled into the Marvel office after an evening of just sitting around in a restaurant… in the dark. You came in with most of an issue of Daredevil written. You and Joan had set up what you called a “candle brigade” at your house, and you had two-finger-typed out page after page of top-notch dialogue… and then you apologized to production manager Sol Brodsky because you hadn’t been able to write even more. That’s when I knew I was working for the right guy. You never let anything stop you. So thanks, Stan, for that bright July day when, maybe 15 minutes after we met, you stared out the window, down at the models strolling by on Madison Avenue, and you asked the question that changed my life forever: “So… what do we have to do to hire you away from National?” [Tributes continue on p. 30, after intervening photo & art pages.]
Marvel Staffers Remember Stan Lee
[Continued from p. 25]
Marv Wolfman was the first person after myself to hold the title of editor-in-chief of both Marvel’s color and black-&-white comics, which he did for much of 1975 through early 1976. In 1974, after I stepped down from that position, Stan decided to name Marv “executive editor” of Marvel’s black-&-white comic magazines, of which he had already been officially the associate editor and unofficially the functioning editor… and his colleague/friend Len Wein the “executive editor” of Marvel’s color comics line. Len, sadly, passed away in 2017. At the time he wrote the comments below, Marv was basically sidelined by an injury to his head due to a fall at his L.A. home, but he very much wanted (and deserved) to be a part of this issue: I was a Stan Lee fan long before I met him, let alone worked as an editor, then editor-in-chief under him. Indeed, it is very likely that once I became a teenager, without him, I, as well as thousands of other fans, would have stopped reading comics altogether. Back then the books were written and drawn for eight-totwelve-year-olds and were no longer relevant to teens about to enter high school. The common wisdom was kids would read comics for about five years, then grow out of them, only to be replaced by a new crop of pre-teens. But Stan’s comics, created in partnership with so many brilliant artists, were written and drawn for older, high school and even college students. But I don’t want to talk about Stan the writer. Everyone reading this has his or her own opinions of the early Marvel comics, and my fannish opinion holds no more weight than anyone else’s. I want to briefly talk about working directly with Stan, something only a handful of us experienced. Story one: Roy Thomas had hired me as an associate editor and I showed my thanks by almost getting fired less than a week later. I was writing for Marvel as well as acting as an associate editor when I was asked to proofread one of the comics I had actually written. A different assistant editor proofread my script while I went over the art. And I wasn’t happy with what I saw. Whoever inked the pages didn’t bother to ink most of the backgrounds the penciler had carefully and beautifully drawn. I went full-tilt Tasmanian Devil and complained to anyone who would listen and to even more who wouldn’t. That evening, at home, I got a call saying Stan wanted to see me first thing in the morning. Gulp! Nervous, I went into Stan’s office. The inker was there, too. He had heard I was bad-mouthing him and wanted me gone. I told Stan about the missing backgrounds. Stan asked the artist if it was true. He said no. Please note that this inker had worked at Marvel for years and was a personal friend of Stan’s. I was an easily replaceable kid Stan had never talked to before. But I had brought Xerox copies of the pencils and showed them to Stan, with backgrounds included. He looked them over, called in the head of production, and told him to have someone add back the backgrounds. He turned to me and said next time show them to production and they would
Marv Wolfman at the San Diego Comic-Con, 1982—and the splash page of Marvel’s GiantSize Chillers Featuring Curse of Dracula #1 (June 1974), with art by Marv’s longtime Tomb of Dracula collaborators par excellence, penciler Gene Colan & inker Tom Palmer. Thanks to Barry Pearl. [TM & © Marvel Characters, Inc.]
take care of it. In a few calm words he explained how things worked and sent me back to my desk to continue my job. For causing trouble like that, especially to a friend of the boss, anyone else would probably have fired me. But Stan was not interested in pointing blame at me or the inker or anyone else. He was only interested in making sure that the books were the best they could be. Deal with the problem, he indicated by example, but there was never any reason to make it personal. Valuable life lesson in all situations. Story two: (Please note I was not personally involved with this.) One evening, a bunch of writer, artists, and editors were goofing off, as they usually did at the end of a day, by pretendwrestling in the Marvel editorial offices. One of the participants tumbled ass-over-teakettle out of the office and into the hallway just as Stan was coming. Stan saw the “wrestler” skid into the wall and lie there. Stan calmly stepped over him and said, “Keep it up, men.” And continued walking down the hall, as if turning the Marvel offices into a Worldwide Wrestling Entertainment fighting ring was an everyday event. Because of Stan, the offices were fun to hang out at and why everyone loved working at Marvel. No serious corporate environment here. Unlike most execs, Stan always kept his office door open. If you needed to speak to him, you could tell if he was in or out. And
Marvel Staffers Remember Stan Lee
seem possible. I learned so much from him. So many of us in the business did; even those who never got to work with Stan owe a debt to his genius and inspiration. Long ago, speaking about comicbook writers, Steve Englehart wrote: “Stan is the father of us all.” Nice one, Steve.
Jim Shooter & Stan Lee at a big Denver convention, 2016. Also seen is a 1986 memo from Stan, in gratitude for a “Bullpen Bulletins” piece by JS about The Man. Courtesy of Jim S.
work that got me the most… Acclaim. Ahem. “Both of us suffered through being stabbed in the back by people we thought were close friends. People we trusted. “Both of us have been lied about, misquoted, slandered, libeled, and misjudged by people ignorant of the facts. Both of us have been falsely accused of taking credit for other people’s work. Both of us have seen credit for work we did, things we created, taken away. “Stan has borne it all with courage, grace, poise, and dignity. He’s remained a gentleman again and again, even when it was difficult. “I wasn’t there when the Marvel Universe and its characters were created. But I’ve spoken extensively with those who were, including Sol, Flo, Morrie, and others. I’ve worked with several of the key participants in that incredible creative collaboration, including Jack, Steve, Don Heck, Vinnie, and Michelangelo, to name a few. Although their contributions were huge, even indispensable, it’s clear to me that Stan was the guiding force, the linchpin, and the most important creator of the Marvel Universe. I worked with him closely. I saw him in action. He was and is The Man. “One thing I learned from Stan—actually, I guess I really learned this from Spider-Man—sometimes you just have to be content that you know the truth. “Stan, I want you to know that I’m still learning from you. By remote control again, unfortunately. You’re a hero to me and I’m still trying to emulate you. “Thanks to you, I’ll never lose that kid inside.” That was 1995. Now, here we are. Stan is gone. It just doesn’t
So, tell you what, fellow children, to honor him let’s give a good account of ourselves. So, if he’s watching, he’ll be proud. All you True Believers, too. He taught us all to face front.
Kid Stan – Outlaw by Tony Isabella Below, Tony Isabella remembers being hired as an assistant on the new Mighty World of Marvel magazine, which reprinted Marvel material for sale in the United Kingdom. My own memory is of Stan telling me he needed someone who could write press releases, Bullpen Bulletins-style pieces, and the like more or less in his style, and my feeling that Tony, whom I knew as a comics fan-journalist of some talent, could handle that assignment. Maybe Tony got bounced from one job to the other even before he walked in the door. What matters is that he became a writer and editor for Marvel for the next number of years, and he was good at it. Nowadays, he’s become best-known as the creator of Black Lightning, the DC super-hero who has his own WB TV series—but before he was the darling of the DC air waves, he was a Marvel man through and through…. I had two fathers. To put it more accurately, my career as a comics writer has two fathers. Louis Isabella encouraged my writing when I was young, building an “office” in the basement of our Cleveland home so I could write in relative peace. Stan Lee inspired my writing with his comics. I wanted to be part of the universe he created with Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and others. It was one of the most satisfying moments of my life when I introduced Lou to Stan when the former visited me in New York. Stan was one of my first bosses in comics, along with Roy Thomas and Sol Brodsky. Roy had hired me to assist Stan and Sol on The Mighty World of Marvel, the British comics weekly reprinting the earliest adventures of the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, and the Hulk, and some other projects. I could not have had three better teachers. I wish I had been a much better student. Still, some of
STAN LEE & MOEBIUS When Titans Clashed—Together! by Jean-Marc Lofficier
only worked with Stan once—on the Silver Surfer graphic novel he did with Jean “Moebius” Giraud in 1987-88.
Jean and I, who were then business partners, first met Stan in a one-on-one at the American Booksellers’ Association convention in May 1987 in Anaheim, California, then again at the San Diego Comic-Con a couple of months later. Stan was very eager to find a way to work with Jean, and the feeling was reciprocated. The problem was that Jean was unfamiliar with most of the Marvel characters. He had first discovered them in their French editions in 1969 in the magazines Fantask, then Strange, published by Editions Lug, the current successor of which is Hexagon Comics, of which I am today editor-in-chief. The one series that had most impressed him was Stan and John Buscema’s glorious Silver Surfer of 1968-70, which had garnered much praise from French writers and artists, and had even been wonderfully parodied by top cartoonist Marcel Gotlib
Jean Giraud (aka “Moebius”) & Jean-Marc Lofficier That’s “Moebius” on the left, around the time of his and Stan Lee’s Silver Surfer: Parable graphic novel—while Jean-Marc is seen (on right) walking his dogs in the countryside earlier this year. Jean Giraud, of course, drew and colored the cover of the Marvel/Epic graphic novel. The two separate issues won the 1989 Eisner Award for “Best Finite/Limited Series.” Thanks to Jean-Marc for the photo of himself; the pic of Moebius was found on the Internet. We figure you know what Stan looks like by now—and alas, we have no photos of him and Moebius together. [Parable cover TM & © Marvel Characters, Inc.]
in his humor magazine Fluide Glacial (which also published Carmen Cru, which my wife Randy and I translated for the US market under the title French Ice). So, when we had lunch at Comic-Con, I suggested the Surfer as the best “candidate” for a collaboration. This was greeted enthusiastically by Stan, since it was his favorite character. I also suggested to Stan that he should write a stand-alone story, with just the Surfer, without a plethora of other Marvel guest-stars, like the other stand-alone he had done with Jack Kirby to try to sell a Surfer movie, which had ended up being published by Simon & Schuster in 1978. This was, he said, something that fit his vision perfectly, and he wouldn’t have dreamed of doing otherwise. Jean was very intent on having his name on a “real” American comicbook, one printed on newsprint, colored with the Ben Day process. Archie Goodwin, who was then Epic’s editor, came up with the concept of publishing the story as two comics first, reusing the original Surfer logo from the ’60s, then collecting it in a jacketed hardcover with some additional features six months later. Stan went home to write the plot, almost suffering from stage fright, which I thought was both surprising and endearing. After all, if Moebius was Moebius, he was Stan “The Man” Lee. And Jean was not an intimidating figure; he and Stan had visibly clicked during the lunch and had found much in common in their philosophies of life. I genuinely don’t recall how long it took Stan to write the plot
Stan Lee & Moebius
“The Coming Of Gallic-tus?” (Above:) French cartoonist Marcel Gotlib’s parody of the Stan Lee/John Buscema Silver Surfer comic first appeared in L’Echo des Savanes #7 in 1974. Thanks to JeanMarc Lofficier. [TM & © Marcel Gotlib.] (Top right:) The last real comics collaboration between Stan Lee and Jack Kirby was their 1978 Simon & Schuster graphic novel The Silver Surfer—which resembled a replay of 1966’s Fantastic Four #48-50, only with the F.F. replaced by a gal named Ardina. Inks by Joe Sinnott. Thanks to Barry Pearl. [TM & © Marvel Characters, Inc.]
of what became Parable. I’d say a couple of weeks, perhaps a month, but I’m not sure. Eventually, I did get the typewritten plot in the post (remember the post?) and took it to Jean who, at the time, lived in a lovely house in the hills near Topanga in the L.A. area. I liked it, but my opinion in the matter was irrelevant; however, I thought Jean would like it, too, and I was proven right. He was delighted with it. I remember that Stan called me a few days later and, sounding rather insecure, asked if Jean had liked his story; and he was over the moon when I reported that he had, indeed, very much loved it. Jean then broke down the plot in rough pencil breakdowns (some of which were reproduced in that first hardcover edition), ending up with 43 pages (the story was supposed to have 44), which provoked his admiration about Stan’s plotting ability. He often had to add or cut bits when working with his other writers. Truth to tell, I “plotted” the third
War And Pieces Penciler John Buscema rendered his own version of Edward Hicks’ famous 1826 painting “The Peaceable Kingdom”—for Stan Lee to script, and his brother Sal B. to ink—in The Silver Surfer #4 (Feb. 1969). Thanks to Barry Pearl. [TM & © Marvel Characters, Inc.]
STAN LEE, AL LANDAU, & The Transworld Connection by Rob Kirby
Stan Lee and web-headed friend in a photo taken in 1974, during the period when Lee and Landau were publisher and president of Marvel Comics, respectively. Thanks to Ger Apeldoorn.
Al Landau in a photo taken sometime in the 1980s. Courtesy of his grandson, Robert Landau. Albert Einstein Landau was the godson of Albert Einstein... named after the renowned physicist in honor, Rob Kirby discovered, of his having helped to raise funds to keep The Jewish Telegraphic Agency going between the world wars.
hile greater knowledge and insight into comics’ history has been accumulating in print during recent decades, both in book form and in magazines such as this one, there are possibly have become aware of the Mighty World Of Marvel #2 (Oct. 14, 1972) undoubtedly many other tantalizing Transworld name. The same holds We showed you the cover for MWOM #1 (Oct. 7, 1972) in secrets still waiting to be uncovered equally true for those aficionados conjunction with Robert Menzies’ article on Marvel UK in Alter and deciphered. One such mystery has of the many and varied reprint Ego #150—so here’s the Jim Starlin/Joe Sinnott cover for issue #2, long surrounded a company known as which spotlighted the ever-Incredible Hulk. Thanks to the Grand comics published in Australia, Transworld Feature Syndicate, Inc., and Comics Database. [TM & © Marvel Characters, Inc.] New Zealand, and on mainland how exactly it became involved with Europe—likewise the products Marvel’s global expansion. Through my of a variety of local publishers—where the Transworld name researches into the origin and development of Marvel’s own line would again often be displayed somewhere within their copyright of British comics, it’s now clear that, despite Transworld Feature information. Beyond that, there was little to go on. Syndicate being involved with the comic giant’s overseas activities Who, and what, exactly, was Transworld? The puzzle seemed until the 1980s, it was never owned by Marvel, or indeed by any unsolvable. of the companies that later bought Marvel. This discovery is somewhat at variance with what, for example, Roy Thomas seems The origins of the Transworld family were equally a mystery to have assumed when writing 75 Years of Marvel: From the Golden to me when I first began research for a history of Marvel UK after a Age to the Silver Screen (p. 494), but as you’ll discover in these pages, decade-long search to index every single story published by Marvel Transworld initially operated in quite a different area altogether. in Britain since 1972—not an easy task, pre-Internet. There was next to nothing to be found about who Transworld were; and. after the Read All About It! birth of the web… actually, there still wasn’t that much extra to go on. I would eventually find out more, but only after widening my If you’ve ever read any of Marvel’s own British reprint comics purview to take into account all those licensed comics referred to from the first half-decade or so of their existence—or indeed above that preceded Marvel’s creation of The Mighty World of Marvel any of the earlier licensed comics pre-1971, which used material in 1972, a lineage that went as far back as 1951. from the Marvel/Atlas vaults, hailing from companies such as Thorpe and Porter, Alan Class, Odhams, and IPC—you might In looking back right to the beginning, there were hints that
(Clockwise:) Marvel’s Daredevil by Stan Lee and Wally Wood from Daredevil #8 (June 1965). Stan and Joan Lee, late 1940s. Drawing of Biro from Daredevil #12 (Aug. 1942). Biro’s Golden Age DD from Daredevil #12 (Aug. 1942). [© Marvel & Gleason Publications.]
Mr. Monster’s Comic Crypt!
Charles Biro —The Other Stan Lee! (Part 1) by Michael T. Gilbert
o comicbook creator has had a greater influence on popular culture than Stan Lee. Some may argue that “Superman” creators Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel, having started the super-hero ball rolling, deserve the honor. Others may say the credit belongs to one of the field’s great innovators, Spirit creator and prolific graphic novelist Will Eisner. And then there’s underground comix artist R. Crumb, as well as his mentor, Mad’s Harvey Kurtzman. More recently, Frank Miller, Art Spiegelman, Alan Moore, and Neil Gaiman have each made their marks. And let’s not forget Lee’s main Marvel Universe co-creators, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko. I won’t argue the point. For my money, each of those creators deserves our attention. But while comics fans are mad about Kurtzman and think Siegel and Shuster are super, most of our cartoon giants remain largely unknown to the outside world. Not so Stan Lee. When it comes to the public face of comics, Kirby’s not the king, nor Ditko, nor even Eisner. Stan’s the man! Thanks to raw talent, an indefatigable work ethic, and a genius
Once Upon A Crime…? Instead of Mr. Crime relating the grim stories in Crime Does Not Pay, here Charlie Biro regales the kids with fairy tales, as depicted on the inside front cover of Uncle Charlie’s Fables #1 (Jan. 1952). [TM & © the respective trademark and copyright holders.]
for self-promotion, the name Stan Lee means “comics”! Stan was my hero growing up, and I’m sad he’s gone. His was a friendly voice on the letters pages of every Marvel comic I read as kid, and his name was on the credits of most of the stories I loved—even those not primarily written by him. Together with Kirby and Ditko, Lee set the template for Marvel comics and the incredibly successful Marvel movies. Roy Thomas, Jim Steranko, and Jim Starlin were just a few of the influential comicbook creators who followed in Lee’s footsteps. As a result, Stan indirectly influenced subsequent generations of comic fans and creators. But when one talks about influences, one question begs an answer: Which comicbook creator most influenced Stan Lee? Charles Biro gets my vote!
Pretty As A Picture! This Biro panel from Daredevil #42 (May 1947) was likely based on a real restaurant favored by members of the National Cartoonist Society— perhaps The Palms, where newspaper and comics artists were known to decorate the walls with their art. Besides drawings by Biro and his buddy Bob Wood, we can spot sketches by fellow National Cartoonists Society members Burne Hogarth, Milton Caniff, E.C. Segar, John Giunta, Alex Raymond, Dan Barry, and Mort Meskin. Quite a lineup! [TM & © the respective trademark and copyright holders.]
Though almost forgotten today, in the 1940s Biro was one of the most successful comic creators of the Golden Age. Biro was a triple-threat talent: writer, artist, and editor. Biro drew many of the covers and quite a few stories too, in a crude but powerful style. The major books he edited, Daredevil, Boy Comics, Crime Does Not Pay, and Crime and Punishment, sold in the millions. Like Lee, Biro knew how to brand himself. His name would appear prominently on many splash pages and covers. His was the smiling face of Lev Gleason Publications, as Stan would be at Marvel years later.
Comic Fandom Archive
My (Admittedly Minor) Encounters With STAN LEE I
by Bill Schelly
Bill Schelly & Stan Lee\ That’s Bill on the left in a recent pic, and Stan Lee “at home in the early 1960s” on the right, not long before he and artist/co-plotter Steve Ditko produced the superb Amazing Spider-Man #7 (Dec. 1963). This was the first Marvel comicbook that Bill ever bought, drawn in by Steve’s excellent artwork and Stan’s seductive verbiage. [TM & © Marvel Characters, Inc.]
f there hadn’t been Stan Lee, then someone would have had to invent him.
Wait—that’s exactly what happened: A Jewish kid from New York City named Stanley Martin Lieber invented “Stan Lee,” the character most of us grew up admiring—the fun-loving uncle who shamelessly bragged about Marvel Comics, who wrote many of them, who loved comicbooks and, yes, who loved us, his fans. I first heard of Stan Lee in the fall of 1963, when I pulled a copy of Amazing Spider-Man #7 from the dark recesses of a giant magazine rack at my local drugstore. The first cover blurb by Stan that I read was: “Here is Spider-Man as you like him… Fighting! Joking! Daring! Challenging the most dangerous foe of all, in this— the Marvel Age of Comics!” I thought: that’s different. DC comics didn’t have cover blurbs like that, except maybe putting the title of the story on the cover –certainly nothing so seemingly personal, addressing me, the potential reader (“as you like him…”). Intrigued, I opened it and read: “Never let it be said that the Marvel Comics Group doesn’t respond to the wishes of its readers!” And then, outright bragging: “A tale destined to rank among the very greatest in this… The Marvel Age of Comics!” “What’s ‘The Marvel Age of Comics’?” I asked myself. “It sounds like there’s a whole bunch of different comics being published that I’ve never heard of!” By the time I finished reading Spidey #7, I was thoroughly bowled over by the fabulous Ditko artwork and Stan’s deft, humorous script. Turning to the letter column, “The Spider’s Web,” I found letters that were fairly typical of a Green Lantern or The Flash letter column, but the answers were “straight from the shoulder” responses that seemed to take me inside the comicbook business. The “Special Announcements Section” began: “Here it is, the section we like best! A place for us to get together, relax a while, and chew the fat about comic mags.” It then went on to talk about the two newest Marvel comics, The Avengers and The X-Men, and the changes in a couple of their other titles: “Don’t delay in letting us know how you like the big changes in Tales to Astonish and Tales of Suspense.” Ant-Man had become Giant-Man, and Iron Man had a new suit of armor. “Hope you like it!” Stan said, adding, “That’s probably the most unnecessary phrase ever written! If you don’t like the mags we edit for you, we’ll shoot ourselves!”
The column ended with: “Okay, time to close shop for now. So let’s put away our little webs till next ish, when we’ll bring you another book-length epic which all you armchair critics can tear apart to your heart’s content! Till then, keep well, keep happy, and keep away from radioactive spiders!” Suddenly I realized I had a grin on my face. I really
My (Admittedly Minor) Encounters With Stan Lee
One of those copies was sent to Stan Lee, c/o Marvel Comics Group. Why had I sent Stan a copy? To my (by this time) 13-year-old mind, it was no more complicated than “I love Marvel comics” so if I send one to Marvel, maybe Stan—or more likely Flo Steinberg, whose letters had appeared in Yancy Street Journal— might respond. I somehow had the temerity to include a request for an interview with Stan for the next issue of my fanzine. Flo responded, and said Stan would answer a few written questions if I would send them along. When Stan’s answers to my questions arrived, I was disappointed that he had merely scribbled very brief answers to my questions. But, they were still from “Smilin’ Stan,” so I dutifully included them in Super Heroes Anonymous #2 (May 1965). As essentially worthless as the “interview” is today, it’s still among the earliest ones Stan did for a fanzine. But not as early as the one in Crusader #1, which was conducted in late 1964. (See pg. 39 of Stuf’ Said! from TwoMorrows for a portion of it.) I seem to recall that there were one or two other “questionnaire” interviews that appeared in fanzines around this time, much like mine. And Stan was famously interviewed by Ted White for Castle of Frankenstein magazine in 1965 (not published until 1968). (That talk was
That’s Really “Special”! The “Special Announcements Section” was unlike anything at DC comics. Lee managed to make the plugs for upcoming Marvel publications into what felt like a personal interchange with the reader. The illo nicely reminds the reader who The Sandman was—although it was all news to Bill! The last paragraph “sealed the deal” as far as he was concerned! [TM & © Marvel Characters, Inc.]
liked this guy, whoever Stan Lee was. But, er … “Next ish”—What’s an “ish”….? I contend that any comicbook fan who read Amazing Spider-Man #7 as his first Marvel title would be instantly, irrevocably hooked—all in one fell swoop (of The Vulture)! Because not only was the story astoundingly good and incredibly well-drawn, but the hero was a teenager, and the people who wrote the book seemed to respect my intelligence. Seduction, thy name is Stan Lee! I was just 12 years old when I discovered this comicbook, and the world of Marvel Comics. I would have been shocked if I’d known that I would have a few encounters with Stan in the ensuing years. No, I don’t claim to have been a friend or fan who knew Stan quite well… but, in remembering what Stan means to me, I do recall these minor encounters quite clearly. That being the case, as a tribute to Stan and what he meant to me in my life, I’m going to share them now.
Encounter #1 It’s February 1965, about the time Fantastic Four #39 (“A Blind Man Shall Lead Them!”) hit the stands, when the first encounter took place. I had discovered the wonderful phenomenon of comics fandom several months earlier, had received my first fanzines (Batmania, Yancy Street Journal, RBCC), and had published my own. Thirty-five copies of Super-Heroes Anonymous #1 were shoved into a neighborhood mailbox, and—voila! I was a publisher!
And Stan The Man Shall Lead Them! Time jump: By the time Bill was publishing fanzines in early 1965, Fantastic Four #39 was on the stands. (And a great issue it was!) Pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Chic Stone and (on Daredevil figure) Wally Wood. Thanks to the Grand Comics Database. [TM & © Marvel Characters, Inc.]
STAN THE MAN
Fawcett Collectors Remember Marvel’s Smilin’ Leader Edited by P.C. Hamerlinck
discovered Stan Lee’s work when I began reading super-hero comics in 1973 at the age of 11. I was absorbing his often-profound “Soapbox” installments (where it became clear that Stan was just as much a hero as The Mighty Thor or The Invincible Iron Man) before stumbling across Lee and company classics within the pages of indispensable reprint titles for us newcomers like Marvel Tales, Marvel’s Greatest Comics, Marvel Double Feature, and Marvel Triple Action. In addition, my parents—knowing that I had a soft spot for Captain Marvel and, under their assumption that the Big Red Cheese Cap and Marvel Comics were all one and the same—purchased for me in 1975 at B. Dalton Bookseller Son of Origins of Marvel Comics. Out of the book’s grand re-presentation of those seminal stories, I found myself the most captivated by Stan and Gene Colan’s “Brother, Take My Hand.” In his illuminating essay for this Vietnam War-era Daredevil tale, Stan wrote: “It touches on man’s inhumanity to man, one of the biggest problems which faces us today. I admit it… I was trying to really say something in this story, and to say it softly.” He sure did.
P.C. Hamerlinck found the gateway to Marvel’s past through reprint titles like Marvel Double Feature #8 (Feb. 1975); art by Jack Kirby & Frank Giacoia. [TM & © Marvel Characters, Inc.]
Later on, Mom and Dad Hamerlinck gifted me with some of the Marvel Pocket Books—paperbacks of vintage, full-color excitement starring Spider-Man, Dr. Strange, and the Hulk in their earliest stages, courtesy of Lee, Ditko, Kirby, and the Bullpen. I really believed at the time that it legitimized my taste in literature simply when these works finally became accessible at our local shopping mall bookstore. C.C. Beck, in a 1979 letter to me, spoke highly of Stan. The two of them had hit it off at a Miami comic convention in April that same year. Beck credited Stan for “putting some humor back in comics”… but Captain Marvel’s co-creator couldn’t grasp the rationality behind Stan’s “Marvel Method” of putting comicbook stories together.
C.C. Beck The artistic co-creator of the original “Captain Marvel” (on right) and Stan Lee (co-creator of another “Captain Marvel” in 1967), in spite of their dueling Captain Marvels, manage to enjoy each other’s company at the Miami Con in April 1979.
Fast-forward to adulthood: I had seen Stan several times over the years on convention panels discussing his many achievements. My nearest interaction with him was nine years ago when I was writing an article for Michael Eury’s Back Issue magazine about a 1975 record album tie-in oddity called Spider-Man: Rock Reflections of a Superhero [see p. 12]—where Stan had recorded stage-setting narratives in between the record’s musical tracks. Through Roy, I asked Stan about the project, but he couldn’t remember a thing about it. But I remember putting that LP on the turntable back in ’75… and I can still hear Stan’s voice through the speakers joyfully hamming it up for young listeners (and fans) like me.
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comicbooks were quite literally “seducing the innocent.”
In 1948/49, Lee wrote a series of Stan Lee made the Marvel Comics of the ’60s the most exciting editorials that were published in all of thing of my youth. He created THE CLUB. He made me feel like Timely’s titles that defended his life’s an insider in a most incredible universe of characters—and their work against Wertham-esque critics creators. Stan, more than anyone WAS Marvel. Even IF all Stan who saw comicbooks as causing juvenile ever did was dialogue and editorial content (and nobody disputes delinquency. It is important to note that THAT), that was half the appeal of Marvel (at least for ME). Even this was a fight that Lee was bound if you believe he had nothing to do with the stories/plots (and I Brian Cronin. to lose, as Timely-rebranded-as-Atlas don’t believe that), he gave Marvel’s characters their voices and Comics eventually co-founded the Comics their personalities. I never read ANY Kirby-only book after the Magazine Association of America (CMAA) and helped create the 1960s Marvel years that held anything LIKE the appeal of his work self-policing and restrictive Comics Code Authority in 1954 to with Stan. Kirby ALONE at Marvel in the ’60s, dialoguing his own ALTER EGO #161 the government from policing the comicbook industry. prevent stuff, would NEVER have grabbed me the way theFull-issue sameSTAN work LEE with TRIBUTE! ROY THOMAS writes on his more Lee shares knew that his was not a necessarily popular viewpoint and 50-yearalone relationship with Stan—and 21stthe Stan dialogue, titles, and editorial persona did.than Ditko century e-mails from Stan (with his yet permission, of course)! Art byfor it. His most powerful response to Wertham he still fought wouldn’t have, either. Or anyone ELSE in the “Bullpen.” Without KIRBY, DITKO, MANEELY, EVERETT, SEVERIN, ROMITA, plus occurred in “The Raving Maniac,” in the final issue of Suspense tributes from pros and fans alike, and special sections on Stan that Stan Lee “polish,” “veneer,” “personality”—whatever you want MICHAEL T. GILBERT, BILL SCHELLY, even the FCA! art by Joe Maneely, as Lee wrote himself into the (#29,and 1953), with to call it—I truly do not believe there’d have been aby “Marvel Age of Vintage cover by KIRBY and COLLETTA! story as the head of a comicbook company who is dealing with Comics” and the huge industry-wide super-hero boost that resulted (100-page FULL-COLOR magazine) $9.95 the titular maniac, who wants to bring the editor’s comicbook (Digital Edition) $5.95 from it. His contribution cannot be overestimated. company down. Lee, as the editor, argues against censorship http://twomorrows.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=98_55&products_id=1425 and defends comicbooks as harmless escapist fiction that gives their readers comfort in the increasingly dangerous real world,
Jim Engel with Stan Lee in 1994. You can see some of his art on p. 93.
Brian Cronin When people think of Stan Lee taking an idealistic stand, they typically have in mind one of his late-1960s “Stan’s Soapbox” columns that would run every month in Marvel Comics, starting with the introduction of the company-wide “Bullpen Bulletins” beginning in 1967. Those columns, especially the ones where Lee decried the evils of bigotry, are powerful reading today and likely had an even greater impact when they were first published. However, it is worth noting that, by 1968, Lee was writing from a position of strength. Marvel Comics was riding not only high in sales, but also in cultural relevance. Despite being in his mid-40s, Lee was suddenly an icon among college students and he knew it. Therefore, while I admire Lee’s views from that period, I am even more impressed by Lee’s actions during the late 1940s/early 1950s as he became one of the most vocal critics in the comicbook industry against the attacks on comicbooks by concerned parents who were turning against comics based on the writings of Fredric Wertham and people of his ilk who were convinced that
A Marvel Maniac—1950s Style! Brian Cronin was impressed with Stan Lee’s defense of comicbooks in “The Raving Maniac” from Suspense #29 (1953); art by Joe Maneely. [TM & © Marvel Characters, Inc.]
ALTER EGO #161 (100 full-color pages) is a full-issue tribute to Stan (The Man) Lee and his contributions to comics! Roy Thomas writes on hi...