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Stan Lee and Marvel
actors at Comic-Con.
(See page 13 for details.)
in our teen years where we’re told to stop reading
fairy tales, that we’re too old for all of that magic and
wonder. I don’t agree with that. So the comics I
started writing were, basically, comic books for
older people, fairy tales for adults—or smart people,
anyway. I also really tried to write these characters
so that readers believed they were actually alive and
doing these things and maybe somehow sharing the
world with you and me.
CC: Has your writing process changed much
through the years?
SL: Well, I don’t stand as much now as I used to.
[Laughs] See, I love the sun. I also really didn’t want
to become one of those writers who got a big potbelly because he’s sitting at a desk all the time. So
when I was writing a lot of these stories, back in the
’60s and ’70s, I put this bridge table out on the terrace—this was at our house in Long Island, a long
time ago—and then I put a little stool on top of that
so it was tall enough and then I’d put my typewriter
on top of that. That way, I could stand outside in the
sun and type all day long. And my wife would have
these little parties at the house and everyone would
be talking and drinking and laughing all around me,
and I’d just be standing there, typing away. She really
is the perfect wife for me.
CC: There are infinite theories about where creative ideas come from. Where do you think Ant-Man,
Scarlet Witch or even the Destroyer, your very first
comic book hero, comes from?
SL: Well, you just think about it! You just sit
down or walk around and probably
have a big, dumb look on your
face and you wonder, “What
would I like to read? What
kind of character would
interest me?” I’m asked a
lot what tips I would
give to other writers.
The truth is: I don’t
know any tips. I can’t
think of a single tip.
Now I’ve been writ-
ing long enough to
have met an awful lot
of writers who sit
down at their computer or
whatever and say, “OK,
now I’m going to write the
story for young ladies,
aged 17 to 26.” I don’t have
a clue how to do that. I
don’t know what other peo-
ple want; I know what I
want. So the only thing I
can say when answer-
ing that question is:
Please write stories that you think are great. Write to
please yourself. That’s how I’ve always done it—not
because I’m so desperate to please other people, but
because I feel very genuinely that if I really love a
story, then there must be a few other people out
there who would love it too. I’m not that special.
CC: Writing an autobiography is, necessarily, a
process of reflection. Looking back at your life on the
verge of 93, does it really feel like an amazing, fantastic, incredible life?
SL: If I said anything but “yes, absolutely,” I’m
sure I would sound like a terrible human being. But
it’s funny, when I look back at those days in Long
Island, I remember the feelings I had then of being
just a little bit unhappy because, mostly, there were
three kinds of comic book people in the world back
then. There were the people who thought comic
books were stupid and unimportant, and there were
people who just didn’t care about comic books at all.
And then there were the people who actually read
them. We were living in Long Island, surrounded by
stockbrokers and doctors and lawyers and businessmen, and there I was, writing these little stories with
drawings in them, and I couldn’t let go of the idea
that most people didn’t give a damn about the work
I was doing. I wasn’t winning important court cases.
I wasn’t healing people’s bodies. I wasn’t changing
anyone’s world. It was a lousy feeling in those days.
CC: The evidence by now has surely changed
your mind about that, yes?
SL: Well, as the years went by, I realized that
entertainment is one of the most important things in
the world. People need it. They really need it. That’s
why they go to concerts and movies and read
books and watch television. Life is tough for a
lot of people. If you can do something
that brings someone else just a little
bit of relief or pleasure—like telling them a really great story,
maybe—that’s not a bad thing
to do, right? So, over the
years, I’ve learned to be
happy with the work I do,
rather than apologetic for it.
CC: Good! One more
question. Who do you think is
better-looking: Stan Lee in real
life or the illustrated Stan Lee in
Amazing Fantastic Incredible?
SL: Oh, that’s easy. Me! I’m much
better-looking. The hair is so much
thicker. Look at me! C
J. Rentilly is a Los Angeles–
based freelance writer.
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 27