First aired on the Calgary Eyeopener (24/04/12)
Stan Lee has been appearing at comic conventions since comic conventions have existed. The iconic former president of Marvel Comics, and co-creator of a little superhero known as Spider-man, most recently made an appearance at the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo and spoke to Chris dela Torre on the Calgary Eyeopener about his long career, and why he never tires of meeting new fans.
"It's always interesting to meet fans and hear what they have to say. I don't think I'll ever get bored of that," Lee said. "I've been going to them for years, and it's funny, they keep getting bigger and bigger. In the beginning, I mean years and years ago, these comic conventions were attended by kids, young kids, and occasionally there'd be an adult because the kid was too young to come by himself. Now you go to these conventions and it's like all adults. Occasionally you see a kid because his father couldn't get a babysitter! Everything has changed."
Lee's name is almost synonymous with Marvel Comics, but his involvement in the company isn't what it was in the 1960s and '70s. "I enjoyed it then...I'm still involved with Marvel, but I have a new company called POW Entertainment, and we're working on movies and television shows and digital entertainment and video games," he said. "So I keep as busy -- probably busier -- as I ever was, and I still do a lot for Marvel as far as publicity goes...I don't feel I'm out of it."
Lee began to step away from writing regularly in 1971, when his 100-issue streak of The Amazing Spiderman ended. "They made me the publisher, and a little while later they made me the president," Lee said. "I never quite knew what I was supposed to do in those jobs!"
Around 1980, Lee made his first trip out to Los Angeles to visit the studios that were producing Marvel cartoons for television. "I couldn't believe how beautiful it was, the weather! It was like summer all the time," he said. "So I went back to New York and I schemed and I said to the guys at Marvel, 'we should let someone else produce our cartoons, we should set up a place in L.A. and do our own cartoons, and I would be willing to uproot my family and go out to Los Angeles on behalf of Marvel!" Lee has been in Los Angeles ever since.
After Lee stepped away from writing, the tone of comics began to change, largely for the darker. For example, in an issue released in 1973, Spiderman's girlfriend Gwen Stacy is murdered. That plot point probably wouldn't have happened with Lee as head writer, but he didn't have a problem with the darker tone. "It was not a bad move," he said. "It caused a lot of interest and it gave us a chance to let Peter be with Mary Jane."
When Lee first began in the comic business, he actually had ambitions to be a novelist. Now that he has a lifetime of accomplishment behind him, might he ever sit down and write that novel? "Oh no, I wouldn't have the patience," he admitted. "I'm so used to doing things fast, finishing them and going on to the next thing."