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Comic Book Men Q&A – Stan Lee

Stan Lee, one of the seminal creators of today’s top superheroes, shares what always brings him back to comic books, his favorite movie cameos and where he thinks the comics industry is headed.

Q: In the Midseason Premiere, you convince a longtime customer to keep collecting comics. What keeps you coming back to comics? 

A: Well, to me, it’s the most wonderful way to tell a story because you can read the words and see the pictures — so it’s twice as good as a regular book! Parents used to say, “We don’t want our children to read comics, because they only look at the pictures and they don’t learn the words.” They would say, “The child should use his imagination,” their argument being that the child doesn’t use his imagination if there are already pictures. Of course, I would say, “Why go see a film? Why go see a play? Why see Hamlet on the stage? Instead of seeing it on the stage, you could just read it!” But obviously that’s silly. A stage play is a wonderful thing, and a movie is a wonderful thing. Educators since then have found out that reading comics is one of the best ways to make children literate. Comics make children read and enjoy reading. Today, people — school teachers, educators and the public — they’re all in favor of comics.

Q: Did you ever anticipate that the characters you created would become so popular?

A: [Laughs] No, I didn’t. I just hoped the books would sell, so I could make a salary and pay the rent. I never thought these things would become so big. I’m glad they did, but I never expected it.

Q: What’s it like seeing a character you’ve created come to life on the big screen?

A: It’s a wonderful feeling. I go to a red carpet opening for one of the movies and people ask me how I created it, how I feel about it. It makes me feel like I’m part of show business. It’s a great feeling.

Q: Is there a favorite story you’ve written?

A: I love them all. I’m not good with favorites. If I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t have written it. I read the stories over when I finish them, and I think, “Wow, did I write that? This is good! I’m better than I thought.” And of course, the best thing about it, it gives me the chance to meet all kinds of new people.

Q: Do you have a favorite movie role or cameo that you’ve done over the years?

A: I actually loved my role in Kevin Smith’s Mallrats. But I love them all. I do like the one in The Avengers 2, where Thor is drinking some very strong drink from Asgard and he says I can’t handle it, but I ask for some anyway. And then in the next scene, I’m being dragged away by two people and I’m totally out of it. It was wonderful acting; I should have gotten an award for it!

Q: The comics industry has changed so much since you first started working. How do you think comic books will change in the future?

A: I think they’ll just get better and better. The more popular they become — and they’re very popular now — the more you attract the best writers. People who wouldn’t have bothered — novelists, screenwriters, playwrights — are now thinking it would be fun to write a comic book. There will be more and more talent, and you certainly have the best artists in the world.

Comic Book Men airs Sundays at Midnight/11c.

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