STAN LEE SPEAKS TO KEVIN SMITH ABOUT THE MARVEL UNIVERSE

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Stan Lee Now if I asked you who created 'Jack Frost' or 'Father Time, you wouldn't have a clue who I was talking about, would you? However, if I asked you who created the 'X-Men', the 'Fantastic Four', 'Daredevil', 'Spider-Man', and some big green chap who smashes things up, you would, right? Kevin Smith does too. As seen in this 49-minute interview made in 2002. Excelsior.


Stan Lee's Mutants, Monsters & Marvels


THE STORY:
In this bonus feature included in the 'Monsters, Mutants, and Marvels' DVD, 'smiling' Stan Lee explains to 'bearded' Kevin Smith how he has helped shape the Marvel Universe.

Thankfully, this homely tête-à-tête is broken down into the following categories: (1) Stan's Early Years. (2) Creating the Fantastic Four. (3) Heroes of Science. (4) Relationship with the Fans. (5) Living in the Marvel Universe. (6) Collaborating With Jack Kirby. (7) DC / Marvels Friendly Rivalry. (8) The X-Men Phenomenon. And (9) Comics into Movies / TV.

Please, by all means, check out these selected 'Stan quotes' taken from this interview:
  • I envisioned myself winning the war single handily. But before I knew it, I was enlisted into the 'writing corps'.
  • Comic books have always seemed to follow trends. We weren't very creative in those days.
  • I wouldn't know a 'gamma' bomb from an egg-plant. I just liked the sound of the word.
  • The 'Marvel Method' came out of pure necessity. I couldn't handle the work load if truth be told.
  • You get creative people to produce good work by allowing them to create.
  • I loved the movies. So why not allow the artist to get a screen credit? It just made sense to me.
  • Why not set the stories in reality? It helps ground them.
  • I have a very bad memory, and that's why most of the characters had alliterative names.
  • There is not a bad thing I can say about Jack Kirby. He should have been a film director. He's that good.
  • I was friends with a lot of the artist at DC Comics, and had lunch every week with their editor, Julius Schwartz. I made up the rivalry myself. It drove them nuts.
  • When I watch the comic book movies for the character's I've created, I forget that I created them. Ha!

Also, here's some of the stuff Stan says about some of his own creations:
  • Captain America -- I brought him back in the sixties because I loved working on him in the past.
  • The Fantastic Four -- One day our publisher, Martin Goodman, played golf with the big wigs at DC Comics. And when they told Martin how good they were doing with their new team book, guess what he asked me to do next? My own personal soap-opera.
  • Doctor Doom -- He's one of my most favorite characters. I made him a monarch who wanted to conquer the world. A non-arrestable offence.
  • Hulk -- Frankenstein meets Jekyll and Hyde with pants on.
  • Thor -- 'Mjölnir' is a made-up word. So it does not matter if you are unable to pronounce it properly.
  • Daredevil -- I was concerned that blind people would take him the wrong way. I was wrong.
  • X-Men -- I wanted to call them 'The Mutants', but my publisher did not like the name. He thought nobody would understand it.
  • Silver Surfer -- He allowed me to get my own philosophy out there. Bless him.
  • Iron Man -- He's my version of Howard Hughes. 

Nuff said, huh?




THE REVIEW:
Today my Uncle and I walked around his old-haunts up 'East London' in the pouring rain. I must say that it was a very nice excursion all in all. I learnt a bit more about him, his past, and what he was like a much younger man. Moreover, I, in turn, got to thinking about this interview too. How Kevin Smith learnt a bit more about Stan Lee via his humble musings.  


Stan Lee and Kevin Smith


True stories. Both of them. And very synchronistic on many different levels. Because, lets face it, what other way are you going to know why x did z, or how n came to y, if you don't sit down and listen to what people have to say? Huh?

Stan Lee Spiderman
Granted, Stan's stuff was much more comic book inspired than my Uncles. Plus it didn't involve a story about my Granddad trying to set-up a porno empire in a church. Yet, on the same note, my Uncle did not try to explain to me about how he created a plethora of timely characters that were all based on rapture and ignorance.

Well, when I say 'ignorance', I of course mean it in the best possible way. Stan himself admitted in this program (as he did in the other one, click here) that many of the things he did at Marvel during those early years, all had to do with necessity, creativity, and a drive to produce good work for the masses. Why else devise the 'Marvel Method'? Why else come up with the alliterative names? And why else compose a basic story concept which he could reinterpret to infinity and beyond? 

Now to add some depth to this stance, you also need someone who is good at listening to the speaker as well. Like Kevin did with Stan. And like I did with my Uncle. Though, please note, the person who is hearing what is being said, has to focus the irritation, and help define the 'train of thought' in more definitive terms.


STAN LEE SPEAKS TO KEVIN SMITH ABOUT THE MARVEL UNIVERSE


Amazing Fantasy - Spider-man
Admittedly, Kevin was a lot better at this than I was. No doubt about it. Because if I was in his shoes, I would most probably have spurted out these Stan related facts: (1) Stan Lee's real name is Stanley Martin Lieber, and he was born in New York City on the 28th of December, 1922. (2) As a kid he was inspired to write after watching a number of heroic movies starring the actor, Errol Flynn. (3) His brother, Larry Lieber, is also a comic book writer, and is well known for scripting the first appearances of such Marvel characters as Ant-Man, Thor, and Iron Man. (4) Whilst at school Stan worked in a number of small part-time jobs. Such as writing obituaries for a news service, writing press released for a Tuberculosis Center, plus delivering sandwiches, selling subscriptions, and being an 'office boy' too. (5) Once he graduated from high school -- at the tender age of 16 in 1939 -- Stan joined the 'WPA Federal Theater Project', which was an organisation that raised money for live artistic performances. (6) His father, Jack, was a dress cutter, and his Mother, Celia, was a hardworking housewife.  Both of them coming from a Romanian / Jewish decent. (7) Stan got his job at Timely Comics [now known as Marvel], care of his Uncle Robbie Solomon. (8) 'Captain America Comics' #3, May 1941, saw Stan's first published work for Timely. He was a 'text filler'. (9) Stan's first co-creation -- with artist, Jack Binder -- was a street-level hero called the 'Destroyer'. It was in Mystic Comics #6, August 1941.

Overall, this portion of 'Stan Lee's Monsters, Mutants, and Marvels' is a must watch for any comic book fan. It's warm. It's revealing. It's nice to listen to. And it has nothing to do with porn in a church. 

Nuff said redux.

THE RATING: A