Stan Lee (1922-2018). News today that comics legend Stan Lee has passed away. There will only ever be one Stan Lee in the comics industry. You will hear that today and in the days and years to come. As a kid in the ’70s, I have fond memories of the iconic figure of Stan Lee. He was the guy leading the Marvel Comics Bullpen. He was the guy who was always yelling out, “Excelsior!” He was part salesman and part creative genius. This, in no way, takes away from the collaborative work he did with such greats as Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko. At the end of the day, Stan Lee was Stan Lee, a force of nature and an integral part of Marvel Comics and comics in general. May he rest in peace.
Category Archives: Stan Lee
The Smithsonian Is Offering An Online Course On The History Of Superheroes With Michael Uslan And Stan Lee
Calling all students of pop culture, history, and superheroes: It’s time to register for a unique free online course that features comic book legend Stan Lee.
Yes, true believers, this is a great opportunity so don’t miss out. The course begins May 5. Register by March 31 right here.
Here is an unusual essay that argues that the screenplay for David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet” was lifted from classic “Amazing Spider-Man” comics. Republished with permission, this essay originally appeared in The Comics Decoder by poet/cultural subversive R. W. Watkins:
Webs in Lynch’s Closet?
Similarities Between Blue Velvet and Early Spider-Man
by R.W. Watkins
Like the classic Stan Lee-era Amazing Spider-Man comics (1963-c.1972), the films and television series of David Lynch depend on a precise combination of suspense, melodrama and jet-black humour amidst a cast of extreme and offbeat characters. This is certainly more true of Lynch’s 1986 neo-noir masterpiece Blue Velvet than any of his other celluloid creations for the big and small screens. In fact, one can make a reasonably sound argument that Blue Velvet not only resembles early Amazing Spider-Man in its tone and aberrant dynamics, but indeed also owes a great deal to the actual early plots and characters of the classic comic magazine.
Anyone looking for an easy way to hook into comics can look no further than the legendary, Stan Lee. He’s a super easy gateway and, for those who look deeper, this will quickly lead to Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and so forth. Having been interviewed countless times, Stan Lee concluded that he can reverse the roles and be the host himself. Within the YouTube premium channel, “Stan Lee’s World of Heroes,” you will find “Cocktails with Stan.” This is something to see, believe me.
Stan Lee may appear all cute and cuddly, the super easy gateway to comics, but he’s still the same hard-edged guy from his heydey at Marvel. Felicia Day perhaps regrets how she stumbled into a description of her new hobby, ice sculptures. She sort of lazily described to Stan that it’s all done with a chainsaw. “A seesaw? Felicia, please enunciate!” “Chainsaw!” “Oh, chainsaw! But, how the devil would you get the finer details?” Then Felicia admitted that she also uses a chisel! “Oh, a chisel! Well, then it’s not all done with just a chainsaw as you would have had us believe,” lectures Professor Lee, to the surprise and utter dismay of his pupil. The above photo don’t lie, folks. Marvel over all the funky body language. Or view the interesting exchange for yourself here.
Next on the hot seat, the lovely Cara Santa Maria, host of science-centric “Talk Nerdy To Me,” who manages to hold her own with her signature sexy laugh used as a shield as masterfully as Captain America. This time, Stan goes in for the kill but it is a short-lived victory. Cara begins to describe her life’s journey. After getting a Masters degree in Neurobiology, she intended to pursue a PhD in New York but, as she puts it, she fell in love with a boy across the country. “You said that you were in New York but you fell in love with somone across the country. Did you see a picture of him?” No, Cara corrects herself, she met her beau in California. “Then that’s what you should have said. I have to teach you how to tell a story,” nags Stan. No sooner have they gotten through that bit than it comes out that the boy in Cara’s story is Bill Maher. Stan is insistent that Cara reveal details about her and Bill. Cara insists that the details he wants aren’t so private. As it turns out, by the time of this interview, Cara and Bill had broken up well over a year before. You can judge for yourself here.
Just as things are drifting off course, in jumps Jenna Busch, the co-host, or sidekick, to “Cocktails with Stan.” Jenna is a good egg. She has written tons of stuff about pop culture for a myriad of sites. However, she needs to remember that she’s no longer just a super blogger and she does not have the George Burns protective cover that Stan enjoys and seems to approve of anything he says. Jenna’s attempt to save the moment was to ask Cara a science question: “Why do men have nipples?” Not exactly a challenging question or even that interesting. Jenna could have provided an even better save for her boss by having prepped him beforehand about Cara and Bill Maher.
“Cocktails with Stan” is not going to be winning any Peabody awards or even give “Kathie Lee & Hoda” a run of their money. For now, it’s amusing and, what the hell, it’s Stan Lee, for God’s sake, and he’s 90-years-old. The good thing about this show is that everyone seems to want to have a cocktail with Stan. Everyone on the show ultimately comes out a winner. And you can end up learning about some very cool people, like Cara Santa Maria, who is doing a great service by energizing young, and not-so-young, people about science on “Talk Nerdy To Me.”
It’s hard not to like Stan Lee. At 90, he’s an inspiring figure of energy. But, folks, you ought to know, if you don’t already, there’s Stan Lee but there’s also Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby. For anyone versed in comics, they have some idea of how this story goes. Stan Lee collaborated on creating Marvel Comics characters and stories. But, at the end of the day, the payday, it was Stan who got sole credit for writing. Even when you have clear-cut examples of a 50/50 collaboration, Stan Lee got all the credit as writer and creator. Enter Arlen Schumer, who would like to share with you the true history of how things went down. You can read Michael Dooley’s piece on Schumer here. And you’ll want to read carefully and not miss out on these examples of Schumer’s lecture from Comic-Con. Click to expand! Yes, you can easily read them:
In an illustrated lecture, “The Auteur Theory of Comics,” presented at this year’s Comic-Con, Schumer explains the Marvel Method which, as a working method was cool and revolutionary: The artist lays down the art first and then the writer goes back and adds the words! Great. But not so great when it comes to crediting the artist. Schumer expands his argument in favor of Ditko and Kirby by explaining the auteur theory which holds that the artist was in charge of far more than mere illustration of the writer’s words. It’s more like the artist is in charge of all the details in a movie which overlaps into actual storytelling. There are numerous examples, to be sure, where the roles of writer and artist are more fixed but, in the case of Stan Lee working with Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby, Schumer maintains it’s more like the early years of collaboration between John Lennon and Paul McCartney. There’s a wonderful recap of this lecture at the Jack Kirby Museum site.
So, that is not to put a damper of Stan Lee. Just a look at what history has to show us. You can take it any way you like. You can also enjoy more of Arlen Schumer’s explorations into pop culture at his site.