Chatting with Stan Lee

The exact date on this chat transcript is unknown -- I've moved it to a couple of different computers, so the Create date is long since lost. However, based on evidence among the questions (the "new" Spider-Man video game, the talk about "Peter Parker: Spider-Man" #75, and the mention of something coming up in February), it would seem to be late 1996 or early 1997. The chat took place on IRC...and I forget now if it was promoted on Usenet, or how the participants found out about it, but it was the first celebrity Internet chat in which I ever took part.

As you might expect from a Power Pack fan, I was "Gee."

Anyway...despite my being hazy on the date, I remember this actual chat pretty vividly, and I do some reminiscing at the end, if you care to read that far! So, without further ado, here's what Stan Lee had to say back in the day!

Stan_Lee has joined the conversation.

Host Stan_Lee: Hello culture lovers, this is Stan Lee, and I'm ready to be your next victim, just throw your questions at me!

BAMF: Hello Mr. Lee. I'd be amazed if you remembered me, but I met you at a ComicCon at the Crystal City Hyatt in Virginia in the early eighties. You had just come into the hotel and I pointed you to the place where you were supposed to speak. You thanked me and also appreciated that I didn't ask for an autograph.

Host Stan_Lee: Sure I remember you, are you still wearing that funny looking shirt?

Demon_X: Will there ever be a better Spider man computer game? The newest one is a flop. [BRIAN'S NOTE: "Demon_X" is apparently referring to "Spider-Man: Web of Fire," which has become one of the rarest Spider-Man games ever. It was made for the Sega 32X -- which, in itself, is pretty rare.]

Host Stan_Lee: Well, I'm sorry to hear that, but we're doing new and better ones every day, just be patient and hang in with us. I hated it and I'm glad it's over [BRIAN'S NOTE: This last sentence actually refers to someone asking what Stan thought of the Clone Saga.]

Helvite: I understand there already is a Fantastic 4 movie unreleased. Why?

Host Stan_Lee: Because we never intended to release that one, there is a new big budget one in the works now, and it'll knock your socks off!

Ben_Reilly: When is Ben Reilly going to get his own title?

Host Stan_Lee: No plans at the moment, but we'll give anybody a title of his own if we feel enough readers want it

Gee: I had heard that you'd talked about writing some Marvel titles again...any chance you'd be back on the Silver Surfer?

Host Stan_Lee: That's one of the titles I've been discussing, I'll either do that, Dr. Strange or Shield. I'll probably end up doing all 3 of them

Ben_Reilly: Mr. Lee, I'm the President of the Bring Back Ben Group, and I was wondering if you liked Ben Reilly.

Host Stan_Lee: I like every character we've ever had since the dawn of time

hoople: Mr. Lee, will Franklin Richards join the X-men?

Host Stan_Lee: We haven't thought of that, but it's not a bad idea. I'll [tell] our editor, Bob Harris

Jaffo: Have the independents cut into your sales?

Host Stan_Lee: Not really, the only thing that's cut into our sales is the fact that there aren't enough stores to sell the books

Spider-Man: Stan how do you feel about the current X-titles, like Generation X??? And what titles would be interested in writing right now???

Host Stan_Lee: Believe it or not, I'd be interested in writing any title because I like them all. The X titles are terrific, but I'm like a parent who loves all his children equally

Jaffo: Stan, do you think the comics industry is worse off because of Image and other companies?

Host Stan_Lee: No, no, the more competition the better, it keeps us on our toes, makes everybody do their best work and it's you the readers who benefit by it

Ben_Reilly: There's been a lot of debate on Spider-Man #75. Many people believe that Peter Parker actually murdered the Green Goblin! Do you think this is true?

Host Stan_Lee: Well, Peter isn't a murderer, so I would have to say no. Maybe it was one of the Image heros who did it

Ben_Reilly: But he threw a bag of pumpkin bombs at him!! Couldn't we just call it self-defense?

Host Stan_Lee: From the goblin's point of view, it certainly was self-defiance. I have a soft spot in my heart for Gobby

farside: Where is the comics industry heading...?

Host Stan_Lee: I hope it isn't heading into oblivion. I think things are better than ever, just wait and see all Marvel's new plans in the coming months

Jaffo: Stan, does Marvel pay attention to the comics newsgroups? How much attention do you give email from customers?

Host Stan_Lee: We pay attention to every comment we get from anyone. We appreciate every comment and we love you for sending them

Ben_Reilly: Mr. Lee, I'm interested in submitting a story. How can I do that? Is there any sort of general format you want?

Host Stan_Lee: I'm not the guy who reads them, but if you contact Marvel NY, and address your inquiry to the submission editor, he or she will tell you whatever is required. I'm not sure who that is at the moment

hoople: Stan are you coming to the Orlando Megacon in march?

Host Stan_Lee: No, I don't have any plans to go to the Megacon, but I will be at the Museum of Cartoon Art on February 16th, I'm going to make a speech there (In Boca Raton)

Duke: Stan - any plans on bringing those AOL exclusive online comics over to the Marvel website so non-AOL users can enjoy them too?

Host Stan_Lee: Not that I know of. But I'm not in charge of that, they may be talking about it back at the office.

LunchMan: Stan, Do you have any future plans for ghostrider?

Host Stan_Lee: Oh, we certainly do! In fact we're planning to do an animated cartoon based n Ghostrider as well as the live action picture and of course, additional comic books

Ben_Reilly: Do you like the general 'dark tone' that stories have late have taken of late?

Host Stan_Lee: I'm easy to please, I like dark tones and light tones. The important thing is -- do you like them? You're the readers!

[BRIAN'S NOTE: At this point in Spider-Man continuity, Aunt May had been killed (she got better, though.) The question asked of Stan is, "How old WAS Aunt May, anyway?" Don't ask me who wrote it.]

Host Stan_Lee: Aunt May was probably in her 70's before she went to that old kitchen in the sky. I would love to find a way to bring Aunt May back again, I miss her

Jaffo: Stan, do you think comics are read by a more mature audience these days?

Host Stan_Lee: The beautiful thing about comics is these days they're read by every type of audience. We have old readers, young readers, dumb readers and we have brilliant readers; we even have readers who can't read if you can figure that out

hoople: Mr. Lee the "heroes reborn" comics seem to be rewritten old stories, what do you think of the story line?

Host Stan_Lee: I don't know, we've let Jim Lee and Rob Layfield (sic) do it their way and I haven't' been too sure myself. We're really waiting to get the reader's reaction and I'm eager to get every opinion

Gee: We've heard of several movies in any one movie "more developed" than the others?

Host Stan_Lee: Yes, the first one you'll be seeing will be "Blade the Vampire Hunter". They're going to start photographing that in the next few weeks, it stars Wesley Snipes. I have bit part in it myself, I hope that won't ruin the movie

Omega: I've only just started watching the Spider-Man cartoon TV series recently, and I enjoy it quite a bit. I've noticed that the episodes I've been watching have older (C) dates on them... is the cartoon still being produced?

Host Stan_Lee: Oh yes, the cartoons are still being produced and the older copyright date, though I'm not a lawyer, might be because the characters were created years ago

Spider-Man: Stan, also, I would really like to know if the Spider-Clone is ever gonna come on the Spider-Man animated series????

Host Stan_Lee: I certainly hope not. I never cared for the Spider-Clone story

Demon_X: Please Stan...just say: Hi Adam. =)

Host Stan_Lee: If I'm saying hi to Adam, how about his wife, Eve?

custard: Stan---Do you think that a huge hollywood motion picture would destroy the essence of spiderman?

Host Stan_Lee: A huge Hollywood motion picture would make Spiderman greater than ever and it wouldn't do me any harm either! And just wait, that movie will be there sooner or later

LunchMan: Stan, when and where can I catch ghost rider on TV? or in the comics?

Host Stan_Lee: Well, Ghostrider isn't on TV yet, and far as the comics, I'd suggest your nearest comics book store

farside: Is there anything that remains to be comics in general... have we seen it all before?

Host Stan_Lee: You ain't seen nuthin' yet! I just had a meeting with our editor in chief, Bob Harris, and I've decided to get much more involved in the comics myself and we have big plans for new ideas you'll be seeing in the next few months. And in case I forgot to tell you, I'm going to be doing Stan's Soapbox column again, and I'm going to answer all the reader's questions about anything at all in one page in our magazines in every issue and then later I'll do it on the Internet

LunchMan: Lee, w/o you where is marvel comics?

Host Stan_Lee: Probably in the same place, but I wouldn't be as happy

Helvite: I'd like to renew my membership in the "Merry Marvel Marching Society." Where do I do this?

Host Stan_Lee: Unfortunately the MMMS was disbanded years ago, but hold onto your money, because I'm thinking of starting a new club as soon as possible

Ben_Reilly: Mr. Lee, do you think that you will ever return to writing the Spider-Titles?

Host Stan_Lee: I don't' know if I'll write Spider-titles, but I will be writing some new books soon, because I miss writing comics. But I won't do it if you keep calling me Mr. Lee -- my name is Stan!

Host Stan_Lee: In case I forgot to tell you, wherever you go, whatever you do, think Marvel, and of course, EXCELSIOR!

I really didn't chime in a whole lot in this chat...I was content to see what everyone else was asking, and I was seeing that a lot of questions were getting rejected by the chat host. But I did get a lot of praise for my "more developed" movie question, and the question that people seemed to like that didn't get answered was, "Have you read any of Kurt Busiek's 'Untold Tales of Spider-Man'? If so, what do you think of the way he's weaving in and out of your stories?" I think I just posed that too late in the proceedings.

As for the chat itself...Stan never had anything to do with the Spider-Man clone saga, and you can tell he didn't know all the nuances of it. Specifically, he didn't know that Ben Reilly ("we'll give anybody a title of his own if we feel enough readers want it") was the Spider-Clone ("I never cared for the Spider-Clone story"). I always wondered what his responses would have been if "Ben_Reilly" hadn't just assumed that Stan would see the name "Ben Reilly" and think, "Oh, that's the Scarlet Spider, who later became Spider-Man!"

And I would love to ask Stan today if he knew about the story that brought back Aunt May, and what he thought about it. (Essentially, the real Aunt May was kidnapped and replaced by a duplicate, and it was the duplicate who died. Really, a lot of fans have just developed mass amnesia about the entire clone saga.)

Yes, there WAS a better Spider-Man video game coming out. Several, in fact.

The eventual release of "Blade" was a huge, huge deal for me, after years of reading "Stan's Soapbox" installments promising "Spider-Man" in the mid-90s, and "Captain America" in theaters, and a "Thor" series and a "Daredevil" series...I felt like, finally, Marvel had its act together. I had no idea how much.

The revival of "Stan's Soapbox" was, for me, probably the biggest news to come out of this chat. It did come back, not really as an opinion forum or a behind-the-scenes glimpse, but as a place where, every week, Stan would field a couple of fan questions, and every fan whose question was published received a No-Prize. The fact that Marvel (as of August 2004) has gotten away from No-Prizes and letters columns still bothers me. On the bright side, I think the stories are better now than they were then.

And when he said "But I won't do it if you keep calling me Mr. Lee -- my name is Stan!", I wanted to cheer. I can't help it...I'm a great admirer of the man, and his great gift is to make you feel like he's your buddy, and you're part of the club. Don't get me wrong -- I appreciate the artists' contributions on those classic Marvel comics, and I can understand the people who value Kirby's and Ditko's work more than Stan Lee's. But, to me, Stan is The Man.

Questions? Comments? Have a legal or technical reason that I shouldn't have posted this chat? Write to me.

Disclaimer: This web page is not affiliated with Marvel Comics, the legal copyright holders of Spider-Man and all related properties. And I really don't know who, if anyone, holds the rights to this transcript. Please don't sue.