Under The Influence: A Tribute to Stan Lee in Los Angeles

Mon, January 14th, 2008 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Emmett Furey, Staff Writer

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Fans lined up for Under The Influence: A Tribute To Stan Lee in Los Angeles
Photographs by Pinguino Kolb (unless otherwise noted)

Ever since Golden Apple comics relocated to 7018 Melrose in Los Angeles a little over a year ago, proprietor Ryan Liebowitz has been in talks with his new neighbor, Jensen Karp, owner of the adjacent Gallery 1988, about combining forces to promote a comics-themed art show. Last week, their plan was finally realized with Under the Influence: A Tribute to Stan Lee. Dozens of artists contributed work to the show, and Stan "The Man" himself attended last Tuesday night's opening reception. CBR News was on hand for the gala event, which spilled over from Gallery 1988 to Golden Apple next door.

When Liebowitz first moved his business next door to Gallery 1988, he had no idea the unassuming space was one of the hottest galleries in L.A. "Me and the owner, Jensen, really got along, and we have the same demographic of customers, guys who like pop art and pop culture and comic books and movies and sci-fi," Ryan Liebowitz told CBR News.

Artwork on display in Gallery 1988
Liebowitz and Karp quickly arrived at Stan Lee as a theme for their joint-show. Karp would provide the artwork and Liebowitz would provide Stan "The Man." "I called Stan up, because we had a relationship with him, and he agreed to it," Liebowitz said. "Stan was a tad overwhelmed, but blown away by the art, by the respect, and by the admiration he's getting and how he's spawned these creations. He didn't really get the interpretations until he saw them on the canvas, and he just really loved it."

Liebowitz, who recently held a charity fundraiser for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, saw this as an opportunity to raise money for another comic book charity: The Hero Initiative, established to provide monetary assistance to veteran comic book creators requiring supplemental health, medical, and quality-of-life assistance. To raise money for the charity,Tone Rodriguez and other featured artists set up in Golden Apple to produce original sketches which will be sold on eBay, along with Stan Lee autographs. Featured artist Jim Mahfood and writers Marv Wolfman and Christos Gage were just a few comic book pros that showed up to support the cause.

The line outside Gallery 1988 was already around the block when Stan Lee emerged from to briefly address the crowd. He capped off his remarks with his signature "Excelsior!" before posing for pictures with costumed fans. Surrounded by his famous creations, the man behind the House of Ideas quipped, "Boy, do I feel safe."

Stan Lee inspecting artwork in Gallery 1988 (Photo by Daniel Danger)
Then the floodgates were opened, and the first of an estimated 1,500 visitors filtered into the gallery. Meanwhile, a large group of art aficionados followed Lee into Golden Apple, where the venerable comics creator took a few minutes to answer questions and sign autographs. Lee then went to the parking lot behind Golden Apple, where guests were enjoying complimentary Dewars Scotch and Ginger Beer, and watching old Marvel cartoons projected on the side of the building.

Later, Lee met representatives of a group called L.A. Troopaz, a local charity that drives around Los Angeles in Marvel-themed. "We go to boys and girls clubs, teaching kids how to read with Marvel comic books," said Troopaz CEO Aktion. "We give food to the homeless, and go downtown and help out within the community."

Stan Lee signs for fans (Photo by Daniel Danger)
Aktion, who drives a Punisher-themed truck, was joined by fellow L.A. Troopaz members Troy, Marcus and Jamarea, who own the Green Goblin, Nightcrawler and Iron Man trucks, respectively. Lee was good enough to sign his name in the Punisher skull logo on the hood of Aktion's truck. Lee then returned to his car, bidding the crowd farewell, with his fans shouting out after him, "We love you, Stan!"

Gallery 1988 is located at 7020 Melrose Avenue, in Los Angeles California. Under the Influence: A Tribute to Stan Lee features artwork from the likes of Jeff McMillan, Dave Crosland, Camilla D'Errico and Scott Campbell , and can be viewed on Gallery 1988's official website.

Golden Apple's Ryan Liebowitz was thrilled with the turnout and touted the show as a huge success. "This is the first of hopefully many things that the gallery and I are going to do together," Liebowitz said.

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