The Man Comes Around: Lee talks "Stan Lee Meets"

Thu, August 24th, 2006 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Dave Richards, Staff Writer

If movies like "Oh God" and "Bruce Almighty" have taught us anything it's that when creators meet their creations hilarity often ensues. That will be the case this October when the main architect of the Marvel Universe, Stan "The Man" Lee, meets and interacts with the characters he helped create in a special mini-series entitled "Stan Lee Meets." The project celebrates Lee's 65th year of creative involvement with Marvel Comics and CBR News got a chance to chat with the legendary creator about the project.

Unlike the fantastic origins of many of Lee's creations, "Stan Lee Meets" was born out of a simple phone call. "Titanic Tom Brevoort called me and asked if I'd do it," Lee told CBR News. "Who can say 'no' to Tom?

Once plans for the series were finalized, Lee needed to decide which denizens of the Marvel Universe he would meet and interact with in the individual issues of the series. The characters chosen and the title for each issues are: "Stan Lee Meets Dr. Doom," "Stan Lee Meets the Thing," "Stan Lee Meets Dr. Strange," "Stan Lee Meets Spider-Man" and "Stan Lee Meets the Silver Surfer." When it came to deciding which characters he should meet, Lee had a simple criteria. "I just tried to figure which would make the most offbeat and humorous subjects," Lee explained.

Once he had that figured out, all that was left for Lee was to come up with a fun and compelling tale about the individual characters and a way for Stan and his subject to meet. "I simply created excuses for us to meet," Lee said. "Frankly, I think the stories are clever as hell because they give a totally different perspective on the characters and, best of all, they're all humor-themed without, I hope, making fun of the characters or changing who they really are."

The Stan Lee that the various Marvel characters meet won't have really changed much either. "The Stan Lee in the series is pretty much me," Lee stated. "Somewhat off-kilter, usually talking too much and a perennial optimist and innocent."

Lee wanted to keep the specific plot details of the meetings between his innocent perennial optimist protagonist and the marvel characters a secret. "I really don't wanna give the plots away because they are (I hope) all very surprising - they're probably the last things anyone would expect from or about those characters!" he explained.

The words Lee would use to describe the various stories will probably astonish some readers who are expecting a traditional superhero action yarn from the legendary writer. "I'd like to think humorous, unexpected, off-beat - some with a touch of adventure - some not," Lee explained. "I hope that 'surprising' is a major key word."

It should come as no surprise to readers that even though he's been helping to shape the Marvel Universe for 65 years, the legendary writer hasn't lost any of his enthusiasm for the characters and concepts he helped create. "None of my feelings have changed," he stated. "I dig these characters as much - or maybe even more - than ever. It was a real kick revisiting them, especially since I was able to do it in (what I hope) was a humorous way."

Revisiting his creations was made an extra enjoyable experience for Lee because of the artistic collaborators he got to work with on "Stan Lee Meets." "The art that I've seen has been positively brilliant," Lee said. "It's incredibly exciting to be working with a new group of illustrators who have their own unique styles and ways of telling stories. I feel exactly as I felt decades ago when I started working with Jack and the rest of the Bullpen gang."

In addition to an all star team of artists that bring to life the main stories penned by Lee, each issue of "Stan Lee Meets" will feature back up stories by some of the biggest names in comic books, like Joss Whedon, Roy Thomas, Brian Michael Bendis, Paul Jenkins and Jeph Loeb. The back up stories are all designed to pay tribute to Stan "The Man" and his enormous and highly influential body of work. Lee was awed by the talent assembled for the back up stories. "It's very humbling, really," he said. "I haven't yet read or seen the back-up stories and can't wait till I do. The whole thing is almost embarrassingly flattering and I'm really at a loss for words - which is a mighty unusual condition for me!"

Lee has been having loads of fun working on "Stan Lee Meets" and should sales merit, would love a chance to write a sequel to the mini-series or more Marvel tales in a similar vein. "I'd be glad to try more stories of this sort in the future, if anyone ever wanted to see any more," Lee explained. "But I wouldn't want to write the usual adventure stories that I had done for years because - well, because I've already done all that. But I get a real kick out of writing humor and satire and having fun with our characters by looking at them in a different light.

"I'm tremendously grateful to mighty Marvel for doing this series and giving me a chance to get back in harness again," Lee continued. "I loved every minute of it and never had a better time. Excelsior!"

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