Tuesday, September 30, 2008


ITEM! You ever notice how the media can take almost any quote out of context and turn it into an inveracious Internet rumor disguised as actual journalism? Sometimes it even tickles me right down to my size ten tootsies. Take this for example: Moviefone does an interview with Yours Truly in which I’m asked about the rumored casting of Will Smith as Captain America. My response, as accurately reported was:

“I would love us to do something with Will Smith, but I don't know that he's Captain America. That would be a long shot. It would be a real leap to make Captain America black ... then again, I don't know. It might be a really smart thing. If Barack Obama becomes President who knows... suddenly a lot of our characters will be black!”

Simple enough, right? Just your ol’ Uncle Stanley glibly answering away in as non-commital a fashion as humanly possible. But then someone at ContactMusic.com gets ahold of this quote and pulls a portion of it way-the-heck outta proportion and we end up with this headline:

“Stan Lee — Stan Lee Wants to Make Will Smith a Black Captain America”

It’s actually pretty humorous when you think about it. The next headline will probably be “Stan Lee Says He’d Cast Barack Obama As Cap!” But seriously... as regular readers of this boisterous blog already know, Marvel Studios is in full charge of casting for our Merry Marvel Movies and half the time they won’t even take my calls, my-as-less solicit my advice on casting decisions. That’s not my job anyway. My job is to smile and say great things about whatever they’ve already decided to do in exchange for my cameo role and an executive producer credit! Heck, if they let me cast the Captain America movie, I can’t think of a better guy than the Smilin’ One to play Cap! Those CGI effects guys can give me muscles and blonde hair in post-production, right? I can see it all now... the excitement! The drama! The empty seats in theaters across the country...


Monday, September 29, 2008


ITEM! Hoohah! Seems like just the other day Yours Truly was comparing Kirby’s Motherbox to the iPhone, and look what I started. Now you can get my best-selling political humor book Election Daze on your iPhone or as an eBook readable on any computer! Plus you get cool new bonus content that I wrote especially for these electronic editions. Get the iPhone version here, or the eBook version here.

Your Uncle Stan is still working on a sizzling sequel to Election Daze, but I’m having a little trouble convincing Filsinger Publishing that an approach that combines both of my prior captioning loves, political figures and Universal movie monsters, is the right way to go. Below is a sample comp that I worked up to wow ‘em with! I'm thinking of calling the new book Monsters to Decry With...



ITEM! Didja know that Yours Truly still has a copy of his original outline for Fantastic Four #1 (Nov. 1961)? And thank Odin for that! Without it, my mnemonically-impaired misfiring memory cells would never be certain who came up with what between Jolly Jack and myself. As it is, you can read this and easily see what parts of our cosmic quartet came from your Uncle Stanley and which came from King Kirby!

I do recall that originally Uncle Martin wanted me to do a knock-off of the Debilitated Competition’s Justice League mag, and went so far as to suggest that we reunite all of our Golden Age heroes for just such a team. But I’d already tried that once with Cap, Subby and the Torch in the mid-50s and it didn’t sell. Plus, the only combustible character that I really liked from back then was the Human Torch. So I hit on the idea of forming a new team just using the one Golden Oldie, revised to suit modern day readers, natch. Jack and I brain-stormed the rest of the team up, and then I set down to my trusty ol’ Olympia manual typewriter (the preferred writing instrument of Harlan Ellison and Luddites everywhere) and banged out the outline shown below (click on the images to enlarge to comfortable reading size, pilgrims).

What’s particularly interesting is what’s in this that we didn’t use, and what’s not in it that we ended up with. Obviously, the idea of Sue’s clothes not disappearing when she used he power and her having to run around naked every time she needed to be invisible didn’t make it past Jack (though Tim Story had some fun with it 40 years later). Neither did the ideas of Sue being an actress, Johnny not being able to toss fireballs, and (except for a few passing mentions in early ishes) Ben’s crush on Sue.

As to FF #1 itself, you’ll also note that there’s no mention of the Mole Man or Monster Isle. Don’t hold me to this, but I’m pretty sure that I just handed Jack this outline and told him to rip out another 12-13 pages of the FF fighting their first battle against some standard monster-mag monsters, just like the ones we were publishing like crazy at the time. So all of that stuff, plus the reordering of the story into a framed flashback, were all Kirby creations.

So there you have it, Frantic Ones... a little gem of a piece of Merry Marvel Mythology all documented for your analytical appetites. Enjoy!


Friday, September 26, 2008


ITEM! What type of question do Merry Marvelites ask Yours Truly more than any other? The most-asked questions are usually just different flavors of this one: “If Reed Richards and Ben Grimm served during World War II (Fantastic Four #11, 1963), then how come they aren’t both in their 80s now?” Or, “If Peter Parker graduated high school in the Spring of 1965 (The Amazing Spider-Man #28), shouldn’t he be at least 60 years old today?”

There are two ways to answer these kind of questions about reconciling the passage of time with continuity in the Marvel Universe. One way is at least as old as that employed by one of my all-time favorite writers, Edgar Rice Burroughs. Burroughs’ writing career spanned a long enough period of time that he felt it necessary to create customized storytelling solutions to keep John Carter of Mars and Tarzan ever-young in stories that appeared over a period of decades. Hence, in the Marvel Universe, we have things like Captain America staying frozen in a state of suspended animation from WWII until (by my math) sometime during the Clinton administration. Or Nick Fury taking a slug of the “Infinity Formula” every few years to stave off the effects of aging and being interested in women 50 years his junior. As Marvel Executive Editor Tom Brevoort suggests in his excellent Blah Blah Blog, you’ll mainly just give your readers, your editors, and yourself a giant Galactus-sized headache worrying too much about things like this.

Moi personally, I just don’t address the issue at all. I consider it part of the whole “suspension of disbelief” notion that goes hand-in-pen-holding-hand with writing popular fiction. Should you or any other Frantic Ones really lose any sleep over how the passage of time in a comic book affects a hero who can stick to walls and spin webs? You see my point here. Still, if you absolutely, positively, have-to-have an all-encompassing continuity-embracing answer to this burning issue, then I guess it’s your Uncle Stanley to the rescue! You see, way back in 1941 (Captain America #6, to be exact) I created a little superhero called Father Time. The self-same Father Time that went on in modern Marvel mainstream comics to become one of the Elders of the Universe (Captain America #383, 1991, natch). Just blame any and all inconsistencies on that guy. He’s probably been constantly manipulating and readjusting the timeline since the early 1940s just so you True Believers could enjoy the very best in action-packed storytelling. And let’s face it... Peter Parker swinging from rooftops in his Depends undergarments, or Reed and Ben escaping the nursing home by way of the Negative Zone, would be no one’s idea of an “action-packed” story. Not even over at the Distinguished Conglomerate! And now it’s time for the continuity cosmology lesson to endeth.


Thursday, September 25, 2008


(With special thanks to Robby Reed over at Dial B for Blog!)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


ITEM! If you’ve never seen Ron Mann’s classic 1988 documentary, Comic Book Confidential, then shame on you, pilgrim. You’ve unknowingly deprived yourself of one of the most exciting examinations of graphic storytelling as an art form this side of Scott McCloud. Shot on a non-existent budget using cameras and crew “borrowed” from another project, Mister Mann and associates talked to the creators who made it all happen from the 1930s up through the 80s, including the likes of Will Eisner, William M. Gaines, Harvey Kurtzman, Robert Crumb, Lynda Barry and Frank Miller, just to name a few. And of course they interviewed Yours Truly and Jack Kirby, including having each of us read a short segment from some of our very best work. Just to whet your appetite, I’ve had Irving Forbush III imbed those segments below. After you’ve enjoyed them, you can order the entire movie on dynamic DVD by going right here. Enjoy!


Tuesday, September 23, 2008


ITEM! My favorite TV show this side of Who Wants To Be A Superhero is finally back — NBC’s Heroes. And brother did it come back with a Big-Bang! We finally learned who shot Nathan Petrelli, that even Sylar can’t kill Claire, and what power Momma Pertelli has been hiding all this time. The only burning cliffhanger plot point not resolved is one that’s been hanging in the air since all the way back in Season 1... namely, what power did that mysterious Greyhound Bus driver have (you know, the one that gave Hiro a lift way back in Episode 16 “Unexpected”)? I’m guessing he has the ability to dialogue his way out of any situation, but that’s just wild speculation on my part. Watch the clip below and decide for yourself!


Monday, September 22, 2008


ITEM! Look’s like Sturdy Steve Ditko, the man many consider the co-creator of Spder-Man, has finally updated his blog with a 2002 article relating his verifiable version of Spidey’s creation — with a focus on what contributions Jack Kirby made and didn’t make. It’s interesting reading, though in a rare burst of relatively reliable recall Yours Truly gave comprehensive coverage to the self same issue both here and here. To read about it from Steverino's point-of-view, clicketh thou here, and enjoy it for thyself!



ITEM! Look what I found while poking around last night in my hermetically-sealed climate-controlled vault beneath Stately Lee Manor: Marvel’s Fun and Games Magazine #1 (1979). I love how the cover artist (whoever he was) just copied John Romita and John Buscema superhero heads so closely you can tell exactly who he swiped them from. There's even that cutely-copied Marie Severin "Thing" head up in the corner! Believe it or not, you can still thrill to the word games, puzzles, riddles and surprises of these game magazines from yesteryear over at Mile High Comics, where they have the whole 13-issue run for sale! Here’s a free sample of my favorite maze puzzle just to whet your whistles, Frantic Ones. Just click on the image below to embiggen, then print it out and enjoy! It's also suitable for framing or mounting on dart boards!


Sunday, September 21, 2008


ITEM! While most folks mainly remember my 1945-1972 stint as Editor-in-Chief at Marvel Comics for my witty writing, dramatic dialogue, elegant editing, and peerless promotional propaganda, the fact is that I was also one helluva Art Director as well. Sure I had some great guys like Kirby, Ditko, Romita, Colan and others who were actually producing all of that art, but at the end of the day who was responsible for the overall look-and-feel of the whole furshlinger comic book line? If you said Sol Brodsky, go sit in the back of the class, pilgrim. Yours Truly was the final say on everything. Well... the final say except for Uncle Martin. And that’s my Uncle — Martin Goodman — not Bill Bixby’s. But I digress...

Much like late-great PBS art show host Bob Ross, who wanted everyone to paint “happy trees,” I was forever extolling the Bullpen to draw things “more like Kirby.” Say what you will, but it was art direction like that which got our sales up over Brand Ecch’s in the early 70s, and we've never looked back since. Still, not everyone was comfortable with my art directorial style. For example, see the over-the-top, over-done, over-alliterative cartoon below, submitted to the ol’ Sock It To Stan emailbox by MMMS member Rob Steibel. Your specially primed and armed Nuclear No-Prize is on it’s way to you, Rob. Who says your Uncle Stanley can’t take a little joke?


Thursday, September 18, 2008


ITEM! Didja know that you don’t have to wait another four months to get the latest issue of the Jack Kirby Quarterly? That’s how long it’ll take for the slow boat from Great Britain to get ‘em over here in U.S. comic book shops. But you can get yours the same way your Uncle Stanley got his copy. No, no, you don’t have to become the idol of millions or sign your name on everything in sight. Relax. All you have to do is to get on the ebays and order a copy shipped directly to your hot little hands! No need to thank me, pilgrims. Spreading the faith, keeping the flame alive, and shamelessly promoting anything that mentions Yours Truly in it by name is just what I do.

This latest effort from editor Credible Chrissie Harper and contributors like Marv Wolfman, Greg Theakston, Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird (to name only a few) is packed with more and better info on Jolly Jack than you can shake a Boom Tube at! There are things in this mag that even Yours Truly was surprised to learn (or re-learn as the case may be). When you have the long-term memory capacity of a shot-gunned sieve, you do the best you can! Marvelous Marv talks about originally plotting the first Fantastic Four/Terrax storyline for the King to draw, only to have that plan fall through at the last minute. Greg Theakston recalls — with far greater clarity than I do — the reconciliation hug between the King and I. And the Kirby family allowed the publication of some Kirby art that I’ve never even seen before... and believe me brother, I’ve seen more than my fair share! Check out the semi-autobiographical pencil drawing hand-colored in ink dyes by the King himself (see below).

If sales of this issue warrant it, editor Chrissie Harper promises a much-more-aptly named next issue of the Jack Kirby Annual some time in 2009 — so go support the cause, pilgrims! You will be rewarded in ways you’ll never know. To quote the King, “Don’t ask! Just Buy!”



ITEM! If you’re still not over the whole Brand New Day debacle and enjoying Dapper Dan Slott and Even Jazzier John Romita Jr.’s current run on Spider-Man, then shame on you, Fearless One! These two guys are busy bringing Spidey back to heights of greatness unseen since Harry Osborn was knee-high to a Goblin. Even Jazzy Jr.’s covers are harkening back to those classic days when Yours Truly and John Jr.’s Pencilling Pater were setting the high-bar for spandexed spider-webbed splendor. In ish #572 (now on stands, natch), you get Spidey spanking Bulleye like he was a fair-headed stepchild, Norman Osborn back in costume, and... well I don’t want to spoil the whole thing for yah. Let’s just say that the current owner of the Venom symbiote makes a similar return to a classic costume with terrifying results. So what are you waiting for? A personal invite to Aunt May’s bridge club? Go get this one, Tigers!



ITEM! Now at a Local Comic Shop near you — A Tribute to Gene Colan! You gotta go and get your malingering mitts on this one right away, pilgrims. Besides being an authoritative anthology of some of Gentleman Gene’s very best Marvel work, portions of the proceeds go directly to Mr. and Mrs. Colan to help offset medical expenses from Gene’s recent illness. In addition to proceeds from the tribute book, Marvel has also awarded Gene a nice retirement bonus and just generally stepped up to the philanthropic plate — and rightly so! And it’s all because Marveldom Assembled, Clever Cliff Meth, and Frantic Ones just like you demanded it! So say we all! 


Tuesday, September 16, 2008


ITEM! Speaking of the Golden Avenger, you might remember this story about the Hollywood hubbub regarding precocious paparazzi photog Ronnie Adams — he who managed to sneak on-set during the filming of Iron Man and get away with a shot of ol’ Shellhead in his full red-and-gold regalia. After making the poor schmuck pull the pic off his website and threatening to shut him down forever, someone on the Iron Man production team thought it would be just hilarious to include Adam’s pic in a fake newspaper spread easily seen in the theatrical release of the movie (see pic below). That’s when Ransom-seeking Ronnie sued Paramount and Marvel for, well, let’s face it... stealing his photograph. Jumpin’ Jehosaphat and shades of J. Jonah Jameson!

Now this development: Yours Truly was checking out my preview Iron Man DVD the other day, and what to my wondering eyes should appear... but a completely different photo digitally inserted into the DVD version of the movie! No word on how the lawsuit is going between Marvel, Paramount and Ronnie... but it’s a safe bet that given the choice between giving Ronnie a few hundred grand and giving their entertainment attorneys the same amount, the studio suits have elected to do the latter rather than the former. To quote a certain weapons manufacturing billionaire, "That’s how Dad did it, that’s how America does it, and it’s worked out pretty well so far..."



ITEM! Sorry for the liltin’ lull between posts, pilgrims! Ol’ Smiley’s huge backlog of proffered projects, prolific scripts, and pointedly looming deadlines finally caught up with me. What finally got my attention was when a Disney lawyer suggested that if I didn’t get my in arrears rear-end in gear soon, I was gonna have to start giving back the up-front money! Yeesh! So — long story not-so-short, I had to load up on some St. John’s Wort, sequester myself in Casa De Lee, and churn out the next generation of literary greatness for several studios all at once.

But we’re back on track here in Soapboxland, with some exciting new comics, comedy and contests that’ll come winging their way straight to you any day now! And maybe I can even talk Shooter into guest posting a little more often. Where were yah when I needed yah, Jim? How much time can it take to script the same comic you’ve been writing since you were 15? Meantime, here’s a little something to tide you Faithful Ones over... Iron Man and his Dubious Compatriot discussing who had the biggest non-sequel opening for a super hero flick. Enjoy! 


Wednesday, September 3, 2008


The Shooter here with my own contribution to the Jack Kirby 91st birthday celebration and thanks to the Smilin’ One for letting me play in his Soapbox. Rather than belabor the obvious, gentle readers, I’ve chosen to share with you my personal favorites: The Top 10 Best Jack Kirby Comics. I know, it’s like choosing your favorite Beatles song or your favorite Van Gogh. Or deciding which of my runs on The Legion of Superheroes is best. While you may disagree with some of my choices, we can all agree that the King gave us some of the very best graphic storytelling the world has ever seen. Even in collaboration (to one degree or another) with the likes of Joe Simon, Stan Lee and even Arthur C. Clarke, Jack’s storytelling sensibilities were always what made a Kirby comic great. Inventive as he was, creative as he was, artistically gifted as he was, Jack was always first and foremost a fantastic storyteller. And so, without further ado...

Top 10 Best Jack Kirby Comics

10. Kamandi #16 “The Gift”
9. Marvel Treasury Edition: 2001 A Space Odyssey
8. Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos #6 “The Fangs of the Fox”
7. Captain America #1
6. Thor #159 “The Answer At Last!”
5. Mister Miracle #9 “Himon!”
4. Fantastic Four #51 “This Man... This Monster”
3. StreetwiseStreet Code”
2. Boys Ranch #3 “Mother Delilah”
1. New Gods #7 “The Pact”

Take Care,

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


ITEM! As many of you Frantic Ones already know, we’re all about credit-where-credit-is-due here in Soapboxland. And in that spirit, today we are celebrating one of the greatest unsung heroes of comics from the Silver Age straight through to the 21st Century. That’s right, we’re talking about the indomitable Gaspar Saladino, Letterer Extraordinaire (try saying THAT three times fast)!

Gaspar’s Distinguished Career saw him mainly working for our competition throughout most of the 50s and 60s, but boy-oh-boy did he ever save our bacon in the swingin’ seventies and eighties! By then, Marvel stalwarts Artie Simek and Sam Rosen had retired and for whatever reason we couldn’t find a decent letterer to save our sales-starved souls. Then it hit me! Why not do the same thing with lettering that we did when we had Jolly Jack do breakdowns and layouts for some of our action-challenged Bullpen artists? So we brought in Gaspar the Great to re-design some of our liltin’ logos and and to letter just the covers and splash pages of most of our line of Mighty Marvel Comics. The results were spectacular, and if you were reading ‘em back then you were probably so dazzled by Gaspar's uncredited cover and splash page work that you didn’t even notice that the interior pages were lettered just a wee bit less elegantly.

And so, in celebration of the life and career of Gaspar Saladino, we here at the Soapbox present a sizzling selection of some of his best logo lettering work from the 70s (at least the best that he did for us, natch). Click on the images below to embiggen! To read much, much more comprehensive coverage of the Great Gaspar’s career, allow me to direct your kind attention to the titanic 12-part series dedicated to ol’ Gaspar over at Dial B For Blog! Tell Robby your Uncle Stan sent yah! Enjoy!



ITEM! An extra-glitzy and glamorous “Happy 500th Blog Anniversary” shout-out to the great-grandaddy of comic blogs — Robby Reed’s Dial B For Blog! It doesn’t seem possible that it’s already been 500 peerless postings since Robby began his little corner of ye old blogosphere way back in May 2005! Robby has always set the golden standard for in-depth and graphics-rich comic coverage of all things Silver-Aged — a standard by which all other comic blogs are measured. The only complaint your Uncle Stanley has ever had is Robby’s unfortunate tendency to focus on the Distinguished Conglomerate... but what they hey! What would any hero be without his Official Trademarked Stan Lee Patent-Pending Feet of Clay? That just makes us love yah all the more, oh Blogger of 1,000 Heroes! So until Robby switches his magic dial from analog to a digital, we’ll just keep Making Ours Dial B For Blog!