ITEM! It’s Face Front Time, heroes! I’ve decided to create both a nifty new award and an incontestable contest all at the same titanic time. I’m calling it The Excelsior Award for Comic Book Shop Excellence... or the “Exy” for short. Periodically, your Uncle Stanley is going to spotlight exciting and extraordinary comic books shops and do what I do best: give back to all the little people out of there who are Making Theirs Marvel each and every day. That’s just the big-hearted and big-headed kind of guy I am.
First up: Congratz to Lee’s Comics in Mountain View and San Mateo, Cali-forn-i-ay, for winning the first-ever Exy! You are now the proud owners of a certain sense of peerless pride that let's the whole world know you're standing a little straighter and walking a little taller... in other words there's no actual prize or award. It's a virtual thing, Interwebites! I should point out that Lee’s Comics is not affiliated with the Smilin’ One in any way, shape or form... unless owner Lee Hester happens to be one of the my many suspected illegitimate children (along with comic book artist/writer Jim “Love Child” Lee). Hey, what can I say? The 60s and 70s were a wild, wild time. You had to be there, Tiger.
Although Yours Truly has never been to Lee’s, I sent Irving Forbush there once to make a book run while I was speaking in Sunny San Francisco. I needed a few key Silver and Golden Age books for a photo shoot and would yah believe they had ‘em? Earnest Irv couldn’t say enough about the selection, layout and staff, though he warned me to watch out for some guy named Ryan. He said that guy was a trouble-maker of Doc Ock proportions!
I did have the privilege of meeting owner Lee “Livin’ Large” Hester at a dinner awhile back. Didn’t think your Uncle Stan’s memory worked that well, did yah? Hey I can’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday, but when a guy’s name is “Lee” — THAT I can remember! The Hest was great and laughed very politely at my old-man jokes.
I would also be remiss if I didn’t point out that Lee’s Comics has hosted some of the industry greats, including the aforementioned Jim Lee along with Alex Ross (who designed the Lee's Comics logo), Paul Dini, Brian Michael Bendis and others too numerous to mention. By-the-by — Bendis still owes me money from stiffing me on a dinner check. He ran out of the restaurant screaming something about our waitress being a Skrull. Next time he’s there tell him I said he better pay up before I sick Forbush-Man on him! Or a couple dozen lawyers.
How can your cultural center of all things comic bookish qualify for the next Excelsior Award? Submit your nominations straight to the ol’ Sock It To Stan emailage-box. If you’re located somewhere on the West Coast, I’ll send Irving to go check yah out. If you’re on the East Coast, same thing it just may take longer. If you’re in the Midwest, what the heck are you thinking? Just kidding, pilgrims. The contest is open to any and all. If I have to, I’ll recruit some old MMMS members to go scout out your locale. Some of them are still mobile and driving cars.