Under the Radar

Chat with Comics Legend Stan Lee

Stan Lee
FILE - In this April 16, 2002, file photo, Stan Lee, 79, creator of comic-book franchises such as "Spider-Man," "The Incredible Hulk" and "X-Men," smiles during a photo session in his office in Santa Monica, Calif. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File)

Comic book mastermind Stan Lee is not only legendary to the fanboy but to the millions of adoring fans of his work in print and onscreen.  He has created some of the most noted characters of our time like Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, Thor, Iron Man, the Hulk and many more.  Fortunately, Mr. Lee has no plans to slow down anytime soon.

Diana Falzone:  You broke into the comic book industry at only 17 years old; did you ever have a “regular” job prior?

Stan Lee:  Yep.  I had been an office boy (H.Lissner & Sons, trouser manufacturers, 27th and B’way.), a theatre usher (The Rivoli, Times Square) and a delivery boy for a Radio City based pharmacy.

Falzone:  Some people may not know that you were in the Army and served in the Signal Corps.  What was your experience like serving?

Lee:  Hours before I was to ship overseas to be a telephone line repairman for troops in combat, someone learned I had written comics and I was yanked out of my assignment and sent to Astoria, Queens where the Signal Corps had a training film division.  My job was to write training films and to create visual training aids for the troops—which I did.

Falzone:  Since you were so young in the industry, did you ever feel that you had to prove yourself more than your older coworkers?

Lee:  Absolutely.  It’s strange; even though I’m quite a bit older now; I still always feel the need to prove myself.

Falzone:  Was there a particular person who mentored you in the comic book business?

Lee:  Yes, one person.  There was my publisher, Martin Goodman.  Simon and Kirby didn’t stay long enough to mentor me and there was no one else.

Falzone:  You’ve created some of the most recognizable comics of all time. Is there one particular comic or character that remains your personal favorite?

Lee:  I love ‘em all.  Whichever one I was writing was my favorite at that time!

Falzone:  What advice do you have for soldiers looking to get into the comic book field?

Lee:  Depends.  If someone wants to be an artist, just draw up some sample pages—with original drawings, not copies—and send them to one of the editors. For one who wants to be a writer it’s more difficult.  The best course is to sell something in another field—a TV script, or a movie script, or a novel—then uses that as a “door-opener” with a comic book editor.  You see there are so many “name” writers eager to write comics today, that there’s really no reason for an editor to hire someone who isn’t very experienced.

Falzone:  If you could have a superhuman power what would it be?

Lee:  It would be—LUCK!  Just think if you were lucky at everything, life would be perfect!

Falzone:  You keep coming out with blockbuster projects; will there ever come a day you retire?

Lee:  Probably not.  I just enjoy what I do too much.

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