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  • Oh, I always wished I could do something better than comics, but there didn't seem to be anything.

  • My mother used to say that when I was having lunch or dinner at home, if I didn't have a book to read, I'd be reading the label on the ketchup bottle.

  • And, in fact, one of the gifts that I got one Christmas... my mother bought me a little metal stand that you could put a book on, so while you're eating you could be reading the book.

  • There were the Hardy Boys, Don Sturdy and Tom Swift.

  • One was an adventurer, one was an inventor.

  • I loved Émile Zola.

  • I loved Charles Dickens.

  • Whenever I got an extra 50 cents, I'd buy one of those books.

  • In those days, grown-ups hated comics, didn't want their children to read them particularly.

  • So, I figured I'm not going to use my real name, which I'm saving for posterity, for these silly comic books.

  • So, I cut my first name into two and called myself Stan Lee.

  • And it was a living, and I was doing the best I could to make the stories a little bit better.

  • But the kind of stories my publisher wants me to do are banal.

  • They're juvenile.

  • They're nothing.

  • I said to my wife, "You know, there's got to be something better than this."

  • So, Joanie said to me, "Why don't you write one book the way you'd like to do it?"

  • So, at that time my publisher, Martin Goodman, said, "Give me a new superhero book. I think superheroes may sell."

  • Superman!”

  • But I didn't want to do superheroes just like Superman or Batman, I wanted something a little more original, and where I played up the personality of the characters more, and where there were surprises.

  • And I came up with the Fantastic Four.

  • And I called Jack Kirby, who was the best artist we had, and I asked him if he would draw it.

  • It sold very well.

  • We had never gotten fan mail before, but we started getting fan mail, and that started it.

  • So, I dreamed up Spider-Man and the Hulk and the X-Men and all the others.

  • What I tried to do was take these characters, who are obviously bigger than life and fictitious, and make them seem real.

  • They've got these powers.

  • They do wonderful things.

  • But what are the things that worry them?

  • What are the things that frustrate them?

  • I tried to write a well-rounded character with every character I did, rather than just somebody who is extra strong and can beat up the bad guys.

  • If you're writing about people, you have to make the people come to life.

  • I know I always loved reading Sherlock Holmes, and I loved the way Sherlock Holmes spoke, and the way Dr. Watson spoke, and you could tell one from the other.

  • They didn't speak the same way.

  • And the same with any good books.

  • You didn't have to read, 'Joe said' or 'Sam said,' you knew who said it by the way the words were written.

  • In the beginning, I wrote all the scripts myself.

  • I typed them out, wrote them.

  • After a while I was writing almost every book, and we had a lot of books, and there wasn't time to do it.

  • Kirby would be waiting for a script,

  • and I couldn't keep him with nothing to do.

  • So, I would say, "Look Jack, I don't have time to write your script, but here's the story I want to tell, and here's how we'll end it."

  • I gave him whatever I wanted this story to be.

  • And I said, "You draw it any way you want, I'll put in the dialogue and the captions later."

  • So, he would work just from an outline — a verbal outline that I gave him.

  • He'd put in a lot of details that I hadn't even thought of and that was great.

  • And I did the same with all the other artists.

  • One reason that our stories were so successful was I had these great artists illustrating them.

  • Kirby was good, Ditko was good, John Romita was good, John Buscema, Gene Colanand I tried to get the best people I could.

  • Even though we couldn't pay more than anyone elseand we very often paid less — I tried to make the job as interesting as I could.

  • Even though they were comic strips, it would be great if we could make them readable and enjoyable and having something to say.”

  • Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can.”

  • Interviewer: “What would you like people to be left with from your career?”

  • He wrote some good stories.

  • I don't think about that much.

  • You know, when I'm gone, I really don't care.

  • It doesn't do you any good when you're gone.”

Oh, I always wished I could do something better than comics, but there didn't seem to be anything.

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Remembering Stan Lee | NYT News

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    Liang Chen posted on 2018/12/19
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