Comicbook Legends Stan Lee and Todd McFarlane unite at the Calgary Expo
Legendary comicbook creators Stan Lee and Todd McFarlane joined forces to the delight of fans at the Calgary Expo Comic and Entertainment Expo.
“Stan Lee is a guy who tells it like it is,” said McFarlane during the introduction to the legendary comic creator Lee at the Calgary Expo.
McFarlane, the creator of the anti-hero from Hell Spawn, was instrumental in getting Lee to make one last appearance at Calgary Expo, for real this time. McFarlane asked Lee to make one more visit to Canada.
“And nobody can say no to Todd McFarlane,” said Lee before the Calgary Expo in a video announcement on his Facebook page
Lee, born Stanley Martin Lieber, launched into comicbook publishing accidently in New York City, and incidentally changed the paradigm of pop-culture.
“It all started as an absolute accident a long time ago,” says Lee.
He began working for his cousin, Martin Goodman, at Timely Publications. While working for the publishers Lee had the opportunity to team up with legendary comicbook icons Jack Kirby and Joe Simmons.
As Lee tells it he walked into the room saying, “Hi I’m Stan Lee, and they said ‘big deal’.”
At first Lee worked as an office assistant, it would be years before he gained his powers of creation.
Lee had the, “Important and intellectual job,” of removing pencil marks from the artists drawing after they had been inked.
“I erased the pencil, and boy was I good at it,” exclaimed Lee.
Uniting together Kirby and Lee created legendary characters such as the X-Men, Thor, Iron Man and the Hulk.
Lee tumbled into the business of creating the beloved Marvel universes after Simmons and Kirby abruptly left the company. Lee had just started copy writing and he was suddenly the entire comicbook department.
Using his newfound power, Lee began to shake up the industry. One step at a time he began to create more readable stories.
At the time, the mid 1930’s, comic were not respected. Producers didn’t care about the books and it showed in the original story production.
Even the vernacular surrounding the stories is a point of contention with Lee. He gets angry when comicbook is spelled with two words.
“Every time I see the word ‘comicbook’ written as two words, I get angry.
And boy, you wouldn’t like me when I get angry,” bellows Lee.
Lee explains that comic-books are funny stories, they can’t be taken seriously. A comicbook is a serious publication with amazing art and intriguing storylines. The difference between the two matters deeply to Lee.
“Anytime you see someone writing comicbook as two words you’re allowed to hit them.”
Lee conquered this stigma surrounding comics bringing legitimacy and joy to the art.
“Little by little I started coming up with new characters. My first was the Destroyer,” remembers Lee fondly. Lee remembers little about the Destroyer, except that he loves the name.
The process was slow, and Lee was close to quitting the industry. However his wife convinced him to stay and make one comic that he loved.
Lee took a risk and the first family of comics, The Fantastic Four, was born. The family of superheroes allowed Lee to let his imagination run wild with rich plots and characterization.
The world of pop-culture would never be the same. The comic was a hit with readers, and Lee began publishing more books.
Spider-Man was the next character that Lee took a swing at. He wanted a fun hero with superpowers who was also dramatic. Making Peter Parker a teenager with personal problems was key, because at the time no other heroes were like that.
“[Spider-Man] sounded mysterious and dramatic. I thought I have it,” exclaims Lee.
The Marvel universe has only grown since the appearance of Spider-Man in Amazing Fantasy #15 in August 1962. The comics have grown to encompass 1000’s of heroes and have led to Marvel Comics becoming a behemoth in publications, television, and films.
His talent knows no bounds. His career has hits it’s apex at the tender age of 94, a recognizable face in print, in movies and in television.
His talents know no bounds.
“One universe wasn’t big enough for Marvel comics,” joked Lee explaining the drive of the publication to push boundaries, while giving artists the room to play and explore with their characters.
Like the heroes he’s created Lee has transcended the comicbook world, to become a movie star. He’s the only person from the comicbook industry with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
“You’re like Alfred Hitchcock now, you’re in every movie,” joked McFarlane.
Hitchcock was a famed director for movies such as Vertigo, Psycho, and North by North West, and made brief background cameo in his movies.
“I’m not like Hitchcock,” protested Lee, “My cameos require talent.”
He has now made more than 30 cameos across the different Marvel superhero movie universes. His first Marvel universe appearance was in the first X-men movie in 2000.
“I was an instant success, low and behold a career was born,” joked Lee.
He’s played a hot-dog seller in X-men, a security guard in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, a surprised bystander in Spider-Man, been mistaken for Larry King in Iron Man 2 and a bartender in Ant-Man. The list goes on and on.
“Every few month [I have] a cameo. It’s steady employment,” cackled Lee with glee. His cameo credits are becoming almost as vast as the Marvel characters he’s created
“Everybody knows I’m great. It’s no secret.”
“I have lines,” joked lee.
Lee has a “super-secret” cameo coming up in Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2, and he hinted that the cameo is the, “best one yet.”
The 2017 Calgary Expo will mark Lee’s last Canadian convention appearance.
For real this time.