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[Stan] Lee behaved from the start as if a vast, passionate readership awaited each issue that he and his key collaborators, Kirby and Steve Ditko, churned out. And in a fairly short period of time, this chutzpah-–as in all those accounts of magical chutzpah so beloved by solitary boys like me–-was rewarded. By pretending to have a vast network of fans, former fan Stanley Leiber found himself in possession of a vast network of fans.

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When you’re a comics nerd, there comes a time in your life when someone more knowledgeable than you —- an older kid at school or summer camp, the checkout guy at your local comics shop, a blogger with a vendetta —- lets you in on a secret. You know Stan Lee, right? You love him, right? Well, let me fill you in on some real shit. You learn about how he screwed Kirby and Ditko, about how those two were the real creative forces behind Marvel...He walked the offices of Marvel in the mid-’60s, when Lee and Ditko were working together on Spider-Man and Doctor Strange stories and Lee and Kirby were working together on nearly everything else, including The Avengers, The X-Men, and The Fantastic Four. Here’s the problem: It’s extremely unclear what “working together” meant...According to Lee, it meant he came up with the concepts for all the characters, mapped out plots, gave the plots to his artists so they could draw them, and then would take the finished artwork and write his signature snappy verbiage for the characters’ dialogue bubbles. The artists, in Lee’s retelling, were fantastic and visionary, but secondary to his own vision..."Unfortunately, from day one, Jack was doing part of Stan’s job, and Stan was not doing part of Jack’s job," says comics historian Mark Evanier, who worked as Kirby’s assistant and has worked on and off with Lee since the 1970s. "When you talk to Stan Lee, when he turns the Stan Lee act off, he’s a very decent human being who is chronically obsessed with himself. He’s very insecure. Those of us who have trouble being angry for some of the things that happened, it's because we saw the real human being there at times."...“It's one of those things where you sit down and you say, ‘You gotta be forgiving of your parents,’” says artist Colleen Doran, who drew Lee’s new memoir. “I don't know of anyone who knows Stan and doesn't love him, even if they hate things he's done."

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This was a time when creators were rarely if ever credited, but Lee — ironically, given the reputation that would come out over the years for stealing credit and hogging attention — was part of the crowd putting their names right there on page one. There’s definitely a self-serving aspect to that, of course...Still, it’s revolutionary. At the same time when that jackass Bob Kane was still claiming that he wrote and drew every Batman story, when readers only knew Carl Barks as “the good Duck artist,” Marvel books listed writer, artist, inker and letterer. Imagine what a crazy shift that must’ve been for fans...If you want to know who wrote an issue of Detective Comics from the early ’60s, there’s a chance you might have to go look up the records to see who actually got paid for the work. If you want to know if Sam Rosen lettered the Galactus trilogy, that dude’s name is right there on page one.

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In his final days, did people need odd, fizzled forays like Stan Lee’s "Mighty 7" or "Stan Lee’s Hero Command"? Probably not. But did we still need Stan Lee? I’d say yes. He was a link to the earliest days of the American comic book. He remained one of the best showmen in the culture industry. His story was a constant testament to what comics and superheroes could achieve in the marketplace — as well as a reminder of the ways that marketplace had failed so many of his coworkers. His legacy will have asterisks, yes, but he gave more than he took. He was an American original, boldly facing the future when others would have slunk into mere ruminations about the past. "I may not always have been right," he wrote in Excelsior!, "but I never argued with my own decisions." There will always be more to discuss about Stan Lee, but for now, let us say: ’Nuff said.

Hey, I'm just glad Stan Lee got in a cameo before it's too late. Truly the One above All.
GCN Narrator, Everything Wrong With Spider-Man (PS4)note 

Stan Soapbox

Bigotry and racism are among the deadliest social ills plaguing the world today. But, unlike a team of costumed super-villains, they can’t be halted with a punch in the snoot, or a zap from a ray gun. The only way to destroy them is to expose them — to reveal them for the insidious evils they really are. The bigot is an unreasoning hater — one who hates blindly, fanatically, indiscriminately. If his hang-up is black men, he hates ALL black men. If a redhead once offended him, he hates ALL redheads. If some foreigner beat him to a job, he’s down on ALL foreigners. He hates people he’s never seen — people he’s never known — with equal intensity — with equal venom. Now, we’re not trying to say it’s unreasonable for one human being to bug another. But, although anyone has the right to dislike another individual, it’s totally irrational, patently insane to condemn an entire race — to despise an entire nation — to vilify an entire religion. Sooner or later, we must learn to judge each other on our own merits. Sooner or later, if man is ever to be worthy of his destiny, we must fill out hearts with tolerance. For then, and only then, will we be truly worthy of the concept that man was created in the image of God – a God who calls us ALL — His children.
Pax et Justitia,
Stan.
Stan's Soapbox, December 1968. (Stan tweeted this column on August 15, 2017, in response to White Supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia.)

Hi Heroes! Are you ready to hit the ground running? Are you all psyched up for another Soapbox Spectacular guaranteed to elucidate, illuminate and investigate the burning questions of the day? Then, welcome to the column that does it all - the only column that'll leave you more confused when you stop reading than when you started! Hey, it ain't much but we take our accomplishments where we find' em! And now, on with the show...
Introduction to Stan's Soapbox, published in Fantastic Four, vol 3, Issue 15, March 1999.

I received an odd letter last week. Someone wanted to know why I sometimes refer to you readers as 'True Believers'. He wondered if there was any religious significance to the phrase. Well, of course, the answer is no. I'm sure most of you realize that when i call you a True Believer, I'm referring to your belief in fantasy, fun, far-out fiction and the indisputable fat that Marvel's the place where it's at. I mean, hey— I'd prefer to address each of you by name, but I'd need a column the size of Texas, right Bunky?
Published in Fantastic Four, vol 3, Issue 21, September 1999.

Kevin Shuklian: Did you ever receive any acting awards for your appearance in Mallrats?
Stan Lee: 'Fraid not, Kevin. They don't have a category for the hammiest performance of the year. But hey, I wasn't totally unrecognized — I did get a few poison pen letters!."
Published in Fantastic Four, vol 3, Issue 15, March 1999.

Brad Campbell: Why do so many of Spidey's villains (Green Goblin, Doc Ock, Mysterio, Electro, Vulture, Sandman, Lizard, etc.) wear green, yellow, or purple? Are these colors symbolic in any way?
Stan Lee: 'Sure, Brad, they're symbolic of the fact that our high-priced fashion coordinators, after lengthy consultations with their colleagues, Armani and Hilfiger, felt those colors would be the best ensemble to delineate the grotesque gestalt of those particular naughty people. (By the way, I was referring to Mevlvin Armani and Irving Hilfiger, of course.)"
Stan's Soapbox, published in Fantastic Four vol 3, Issue 21, September 1999.

Dave A. Woodrum: Can Magneto magnetic powers affect the 'mystic Uru metal' of Thor's hammer''?
Stan Lee: 'Fraid not, Davey. Thor's hammer isn't made of mystic Uru metal because Uru isn't metal; it's an element that doesn't conform to any Earthly classification. I can't tell you what kind of element it is, because that would mean breaking my promise to Odin."
Published in Fantastic Four, vol 3, Issue 26, February 2000.

Ren of Ontario: Where did you come up with the idea for The Inhumans? They are so unique!
Stan Lee: 'While searching for a new idea, I remembered that we had done tales of all kinds of super-powered humans, and then it hit me— why not Inhumans? Jack Kirby and I had a ball dreaming up Karnak, Gorgon, Triton, Lockjaw, Medusa and the others. Of course, my all-time favorite was Black Bolt, 'cause it was so easy to write his dialogue!"
Published in Fantastic Four, vol 3, Issue 26, February 2000.

Interviews

     Karakuridouji Ultimo interview (Shonen Jump) 

Hiroyuki Takei: How did you come up with the ideas for Ultimo?
Stan Lee: I don't know. I was trying to do something that would be good for the Japanese audience as well as an American audience. There aren't too many robots here in America. I didn't know if they had a good robot fighting the bad ones in Japan and thought maybe this idea would be good for both countries. So I said, "Well, why not? I'll write it, and we'll see what they say.

When I saw your first drawings, they made me think of many new things. I got so excited about them that I was really thrilled to be working with an artist like you."

Hiroyuki Takei: What made you want to collaborate with a Japanese manga and comic artist?
Stan Lee: I love Japanese manga, and I know how popular it is, certainly in Japan, but even in America. I've never done anything with manga. I don't like to think there is anything that I haven't done, so I was really eager to do something, and to do it with the best artist possible. That was, you know, something I couldn't resist.

Hiroyuki Takei: Oh, I'm not the best.
Stan Lee: You're not the best? Oh, c'mon. Get out of here. [laughter]

Hiroyuki Takei: I am sort of the best in my own...
Stan Lee: I think you're the best.

Hiroyuki Takei: You have the rough page layouts. What did you think when you first saw them?
Stan Lee: It's very hard for me to understand them because storyboards in America look a little different. They're tighgter and they're more complete. The Japanese layouts are very rough, so it's gonna take me a while to get used to looking at that type of storyboard. Of course, I need English to understand what I'm looking at. It's a little hard to tell because I don't read Japanese as well as I used to. [laughter]

Hiroyuki Takei: Stick figures are actually what it comes down to because we have to produce 19 pages a week.
Stan Lee: That's a tremendous amount. I mean, when I was doing comic books years ago, our books were originally 64 pages in the 1930's. Then they got whittled down to 48 pages, and finally by the 60's they were only 32 pages. Now, of the 32 pages, 8 or so were ads. There ended up being about 20 or 22 pages of actual comics, and we had to that in a month. For you people to do all of this in one week, I think that is absolutely amazing. And to have it turn out as good as it does, I think you're all geniuses.

Hiroyuki Takei: Everyone does it in Japan.
Stan Lee: No wonder you always looks so tired. The difference is, we only did 20 pages a month, but I was writing between 12 and 20 comic books a month. So we did quite a lot, too. You know, there was Spider-man, The Hulk, The X-men, and so on.

Hiroyuki Takei: What do you think of Japanese manga?
Stan Lee: I love it! That's why I wanted to do this. I love the way the stories flow. I love the characters. I love everything about it. I just hope that I can write it as well as what I read in Japanese manga. But I'm gonna do my best.

Hiroyuki Takei: I'm gonna do my best as well.
Stan Lee: I know that. I know you will.

Hiroyuki Takei: Lastly, do you have a message for SHONEN JUMP readers?
Stan Lee: Oh, absolutely. Save your money and go out there and buy as many copies of Ultimo as you possibly can. Don't just buy one, because they're gonna be worth a lot of money in the future. So buy a lot of them and save them. now, I have a question for you. Why are you sitting here wasting all this time when you should be working on Ultimo and getting that out as fast as possible?! [laughter]
Source: Shonen Jump (American edition), September 2008, Volume 6, Issue 9
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