The list of people who’ve influenced my work is long. Maybe endless. But somewhere in the top 10, you’d find Stan Lee.
It’s been said that Stan Lee’s greatest creation wasn’t Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, The Hulk or any of the other Marvel characters. It was Stan Lee himself.
The things he said and wrote about the Marvel Universe (and himself) were as entertaining as any of his characters. His hype was so over the top, irreverent and good-natured that you knew he wasn’t taking himself seriously.
As a kid, I was firmly hooked on the heroics and drama of the Marvel Characters. But it was Stan’s sense of humor that—without me even realizing it—probably influenced me the most.
Apparently, with great power comes great humor…if you’re Stan Lee.
Original art from First Kiss #40 (1965) minus the Stan Lee head by John Romita, Sr. This gag first appeared in Comics Buyer's Guide---where Last Kiss appears every month.
SCENE: Stan Lee and a young female companion enter a room where people are celebrating Stan's birthday.
STAN'S FEMALE COMPANION: It’s like this everywhere!zzit’s as if someone declared today National Stan Lee Day!
STAN: I asked for “International,” but…maybe next year!
CAPTION: Happy 90th Birthday, Stan!
Stan by John Romita, Sr. © Marvel Characters Inc
Rest by Vince Colletta Studio Color by Diego Jourdan Pereira
Comics writer & pop culture author Danny Fingeroth is speaking about his new book The Stan Lee Universe in Seattle’s University District on Jan. 7 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Details here.
Since this comic deals (at least in passing) with superheroes, it’s only fitting that it has a secret origin. And this secret beginning began around 2001 (or 2002) when I met John Romita, Sr. at a comic convention.
I was pleasantly surprised (shocked really) when John told me that he read and enjoyed Last Kiss. Figuring he’d say no–but what the heck–I asked him if he’d be willing to draw a bit of new art for a Last Kiss comic.
After I picked myself off the floor, I realized that John said, “Yes.”
I don’t know if it was the shock or something akin to stage fright, but I didn’t write a script right away. Not my brightest move.
Months passed (Yes, blast it. Months!) before I approached John again and sheepishly mentioned the project. This time–having come to his senses–John politely bowed out. He basically said he was retired and this sounded too much like real work.
Fair enough. But I wasn’t about to let a little thing like that stop me.
After all, Last Kiss is all about taking old art and re-dialoging it. Would John mind if I used some of his old art?
Sure. No problem.
Fortunately, Marvel felt the same way and quickly granted permission to use the art. The strip made it’s web debut in 2002.
CAPTION: Welcome to the exciting world of comics--where all sentences end in exclamation marks! All wars end with knockout punches! And outrageous fantasies never end!
SCENE--PANEL 1: Male reporter interviews Stan Lee while a beautiful woman in a skimpy costume crouches on a desk in the background.
REPORTER: I'm here with Stan Lee and one of the many super-
WOMAN: Me? A superhero?
STAN: Try again, True Believer!
SCENE--PANEL 2: Close up on reporter.
REPORTER: Oh, my! then you
must be a...
super villain, right?
SCENE--PANEL 3: We see the reporter, the woman and Stan. Stan is raising his hands, punching the air in celebration.
WOMAN: No! I'm just Stan's secretary! He says all the women who work in comics dress like this!
REPORTER: Sheer genius! And that's why Stan's the man!
Art by John Romita, Sr.
Just to be clear, I love Stan Lee. And, Stan, if you want to come to my booth and wear a thong…uh, I’ll get back to you about that.
WOMAN: You pig! If I was Stan Lee you wouldn't ask me to wear a leather thong!
MAN (comic book executive): Actually, Stan offered, but we turned him down!
CAPTION (voice over by bride): “But I had the last laugh! At the con, I met a millionaire...and we fell in love!”
GROOM (thinks as he kisses bride): I hope she’s pristine mint!
CAPTION: To be continued