Stan Lee talks about how comics will last forever
In this exclusive interview, Stan Lee discusses the future of comic books, and the rise of technology in the industry.
Stan is still the man. The creator of iconic super heroes like Spider-Man, Thor, Captain America, and The Avengers has watched as a new generation of movie fans and gamers have propelled these super heroes to new heights. With Marvel’s The Avengers earning over $ 1.5 billion in theaters and coming home to Blu-ray and DVD on September 25, Lee remains a big part of the comic book scene.
Lee actually made the leap into gaming as a playable character in the Activision and Beenox The Amazing Spider-Man game, which serves as an epilogue to Marc Webb’s movie reboot. Lee, who is featured in the new Morgan Spurlock DVD Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope, will be returning to San Diego Comic-Con 2012. Lee will debut his new YouTube channel, “Stan Lee’s World of Heroes” at the convention. He took a few minutes to talk about comics, games, and technology in this exclusive interview below.
What are your thoughts on the opportunities that exist today for aspiring comic book creators versus what was around when you started in the industry?
You’ve now got to be a damn good writer and a spectacular artist to make it today, because there’s more competition than ever before. There are people who’ve written novels and stage plays who are now writing comics, because as I say, they’re hoping that their comic will be discovered. It is tougher, but the field is always open if somebody is a great artist and a great comic book writer.
What have digital comics and the Internet opened up for people interested in becoming involved with comics today?
They’ve opened up entire new worlds of opportunities. There are now so many directions we can go even before you’re talking about movies, or even before you’re talking about a comic book. So many kids today, or even older people, are drawing things and writing things. They’re putting them on the Internet, they’re doing them digitally, and they put them on YouTube. They’re just doing things that they hope the fans will discover; things that they hope will become popular, and therefore somebody will want to make a comic book, graphic novel, or movie of it.
What’s it like for you working on the new comic book line aimed at kids with Stan Lee’s Kids Universe?
Oh, I love it. It takes me back many years to when I wrote comic books like Mighty Mouse, Super Rabbit, Bugs, and so many animated comic books and scripts for the young readers. Most people don’t know that, but I wrote so many things for very young children in the early days of comics. I enjoyed doing it. Later on, the superheroes became the most popular thing so I gave up everything else, but I love writing for young children. I love writing things that could be considered modern fairy tales for young kids.
Since these are kids are playing games and are very digitally connected, what role will video games play with projects like Monsters vs. Kittens and Once Upon a Time?
I think they’ll be comic books first. Then we hope they’ll become video games, animated cartoons, toys, and movies. You name it; we’ll try to do it.
Back in the early days, before there were all these other things competing with comics, kids didn’t have as many choices. What role do you see comic-inspired video games playing today in getting kids interested in the traditional print comic books?
It works both ways. Comics get kids interested in video games, and video games–in case a kid picks one up first–tends to get kids interested in comics. Just like the movies today, the super hero movies have made a lot of people who didn’t read comic books turn to comics. People who went to see Iron Man, loved it and had never read a comic, started looking for Iron Man comics to read, and so forth. It works either way.
With comics migrating more and more to games, the Internet, and digital form, what place do you see traditional print comic books having moving forward?
I think there will always be comic books. There is something very pleasant about a comic book. You can read it at your own speed. You can carry it; it’s not very heavy. You can fold it and put it in your back pocket. You can show it to a friend. You can collect them. They don’t take up much room. You can have your own little collection of whatever character or series you like. You can go back and re-read them. I think there will always be comics, but there will be so many other versions and forms of them. Digital comics now are evolving, you’ll be able to see comics that move. Not quite full animation, but almost full animation, on your cell phone or your computer screen. I think comics are becoming so pervasive culturally in our world, that they’ll be all over the place. I think the humble comic book, which is where they started, will always be with us to some extent.
What are your thoughts about the role that new smartphones and tablets play in allowing people to see all these new motion and digital comics that are coming out, as well as your new Stan Lee Saves the World Game?
It’s great and it’s just changing the face of entertainment totally. I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like in another five or ten years. Things are moving so fast, but pretty soon I think you’re little iPhone that you carry will be all that you need for no matter what you want. You’ll see movies on it, television shows on it. You’ll play games on it. It will have your navigator. It will do everything for you.
What role do you think potentially people that are growing up in a digital world where now movies and TV and videogames and books are all digital that videogames might play in getting people interested in those traditional paper print comic books?
Well, only in the sense that if you are interested in some characters that you see in one form of the media, you’re interest is liable to lap over and you’ll want to see those characters. If you enjoy playing videogames about the Marvel characters, I imagine you’d then want to read the Marvel comic books and you’ll want to see those characters in the movies and if you enjoy the movies, you want to play the videogames and if you enjoy the videogames you want to read the comic books. I think they all reflect upon each other.
How did you end up launching your own Comic-Con with the Comikaze Expo this fall?
The inauguration of Comikaze Expo demonstrated the mighty appetite and eager response from fans to experience a Los Angeles-based event that provides a variety of comic book and pop culture entertainment. We saw an opportunity to creatively take this event to new heights through our partnership and we seized it.