Tag Archives: Spider-Man

Sometimes I feel … like lunch with Stan Lee

Okay, so I don’t really feel old…but sometimes I feel old.

Let me ‘splain.

Recently one of Brittany’s teachers asked me to come talk to some of her classes about comic books, their production, etc. Her classes were graphic design classes so it was all relevant and I certainly never mind talking about comics! However, as I was talking, I mentioned one of my highlights at MarvelBu was a lunch with Stan Lee (Yes, it’s true! Me and several of the Malibu editorial crew got to have a long lunch with him. WAY cool!). The entire class of about 20 high schoolers did not respond in the “I’m impressed” fashion I usually get…so the next words out of my mouth were “you know who Stan Lee is, right?”

With the exception of my daughter, not one of them knew Stan Lee.

Not one.

And I could tell it wasn’t because they were shy or didn’t want to speak up—you can just tell. They did not know his name.

What?

Really?

What planet am I on?

How can you not know who Stan Lee is? How can you not know him from his name plaster all over every Marvel comic for more than 25 years? How can you not know him from his voice was on all the Marvel cartoons in the 70s and 80s, exclaiming his trademarked “Excelsior!”? How can you not know him from his cameos in just about every Marvel movie? Or does he just become “that old guy who’s in all the superhero movies?”

For people of my generation, Stan Lee IS The Man! Even the people who aren’t comic nerds know him. This is the man that is partially responsible as creator or co-creator for all the characters in current pop culture that is dominating the film industry (Marv Wolfman is a close second, of course!). HOW CAN YOU NOT KNOW WHO HE IS?

The sad thing is that most of them know who Elvis is. Aside from the face that Hound Dog was a song in Lilo and Stitch, for some reason, they just know. Oh, it’s not that I’m dissing Elvis, he certainly has his place in pop culture. But we’re talking Stan Lee. In 100 years, no one will know Elvis outside of a history book. Spider-Man, and possibly other Lee characters, will live on in the literary and pop culture worlds for generations. And really, there is no comparison of Jailhouse Rock to The Avengers.

See? Now you know why I feel old…but don’t really feel old.

I’m through ranting now…move along. Nothing more to see here.

Don’t know who Stan Lee is! Sheesh!

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Secret IDs are so passé

One of the things I try to teach my students when creating characters is how important it is that the hero carry around some sort of secret, and not just a boring little secret like he wet the bed until he was 12 (he’s 25 now, who cares?) or that he doesn’t like cats (YAWN), or that he likes watching Nazi documentaries (really?), but something that could cause serious repercussions if discovered, like he killed someone or he a secret double agent spy, or he was the one who pulled the switch on the gas chambers in WW2 Germany, or that he’s secretly a superhero!

Superheroes have—for the most part—used the secret identity as that secret the character carries around, and to good effect, too. I mean, when Doc Ock discovered Peter Parker was Spider-Man, he kidnapped Aunt May! Green Goblin, of course, was responsible for the death of Gwen Stacy >sniff<. If the world knew Batman was Bruce Wayne…well, Alfred would be in a whole lotta trouble. There are exceptions, of course: the Fantastic Four’s identities have always been known.

So what is the deal with all the film superheroes revealing their secret ids? It seems like the “in” thing to do as a superhero on film is to tell everyone your secret…therefore making it not really secret anymore. Part of the whole intrigue and draw of masked heroes is that they have this cool thing that they can’t (or don’t) share with anyone…and the reason they do it is to protect the ones they love. It’s called EMPATHY…we sympathize with their plight and feel for them and thus cheer for them.

But I guarantee you that everyone has some secret. Think about your own. No, I’m not asking to turn this blog into a confessional in the comments below, but you know you have one. And no, I’m not telling you mine, either—cause then it wouldn’t be SECRET anymore! So, you’ve got your secret in your head…now look around you. Everyone else has one, too. SOMETHING. I dunno what it is, but everyone has them.

But I guarantee you that when the new Superman: Man of Steel movie comes out next year, there will be a small handful of people that find out. I don’t know who, but that’s the trend of superhero movies, so you can write the date down and say you heard it here first.

And Superman will be a little less sympathetic because of it…

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