December is Stan Lee's 90th birthday, and Comics Buyer's Guide is doing an appreciation cover story (by me, of course). So gimme a hand:

What's your favorite thing about Stan Lee? What anecdote? What character, story or comic book? What accomplishment? What movie cameo?

Let me know what you think, Legionnaires!

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If you REALLY want a Beatles analogy to Lee & Kirby, try George Martin & Paul McCartney.

Producer & songwriter (who became a producer as well) is close to editor & writer (who became his own editor).

I never really thought of Kirby and Lee as being the Lennon/McCartney of comics.  Lennon and McCartney were roughly equal in the talent department, Kirby was much more talented than Lee.  So, on that level, it doesn't work.

John Dunbar (the mod of maple) said:

I disagree, I think the Beatles analogy works very well and much better than a Col. Parker and Elvis analogy.

Before they were big stars, the Beatles started out (as many bands do) as friends (or at least acquaintences) with common interests.  Everyone put something into it, not equally perhaps, but everyone contributed.  And they reached the point where not only did their fame grow, but everyone knew there was something magical there.

Everything the Beatles did as a unit eclipsed what each one did on their own.  And that's with John and Paul having pretty darn good solo careers - lots of moments of genius and success (obviously George and Ringo to a lesser extent), but just not attaining the dizzying heights hit by the group.

And after a while, things turned sour within the Beatles - for various reasons - some of which I'm sure are only truly known to those who were there.  Eventually they went their separate ways.  Decades later, there's still lots of debate on the particulars, among fans and historians.

I see a lot of parallels: they did their best work together, they had successess in the years that followed, lots of fans wanted them to get back together, some fans felt they were better apart and that one person was held back by another.  Is that Stan and Jack (or Stan and Steve), or the Beatles?  Both, if you ask me.

You want Elvis and Colonel Parker?  To me, that's Jack Kirby, and Martin Goodman.


Henry R. Kujawa said:

I really wish people would stop trying to make "Beatles" analogies. It doesn't work.  John & Paul were friends, partners, and often, true collaborators.  Stan & Jack were never any of those things.

If one feels compelled to search for a music analogy, I feel a much more accurate one would be Colonel Parker & Elvis.

In addition, John, I don't think Kirby/Lee were friends, particularly.  I think both men approached their relationship as being together to accomplish a job, not because they were friends.

Allen Wayne Smith said:

I never really thought of Kirby and Lee as being the Lennon/McCartney of comics.  Lennon and McCartney were roughly equal in the talent department, Kirby was much more talented than Lee.  So, on that level, it doesn't work.

John Dunbar (the mod of maple) said:

I disagree, I think the Beatles analogy works very well and much better than a Col. Parker and Elvis analogy.

Before they were big stars, the Beatles started out (as many bands do) as friends (or at least acquaintences) with common interests.  Everyone put something into it, not equally perhaps, but everyone contributed.  And they reached the point where not only did their fame grow, but everyone knew there was something magical there.

Everything the Beatles did as a unit eclipsed what each one did on their own.  And that's with John and Paul having pretty darn good solo careers - lots of moments of genius and success (obviously George and Ringo to a lesser extent), but just not attaining the dizzying heights hit by the group.

And after a while, things turned sour within the Beatles - for various reasons - some of which I'm sure are only truly known to those who were there.  Eventually they went their separate ways.  Decades later, there's still lots of debate on the particulars, among fans and historians.

I see a lot of parallels: they did their best work together, they had successess in the years that followed, lots of fans wanted them to get back together, some fans felt they were better apart and that one person was held back by another.  Is that Stan and Jack (or Stan and Steve), or the Beatles?  Both, if you ask me.

You want Elvis and Colonel Parker?  To me, that's Jack Kirby, and Martin Goodman.


Henry R. Kujawa said:

I really wish people would stop trying to make "Beatles" analogies. It doesn't work.  John & Paul were friends, partners, and often, true collaborators.  Stan & Jack were never any of those things.

If one feels compelled to search for a music analogy, I feel a much more accurate one would be Colonel Parker & Elvis.

Well, agreed.  It's hard to say who was friends and who wasn't without asking a lot of people who were actually there, and there aren't that many contemporaries of Kirby and Lee and others of the same generation left.  I would guess that drawing the number of pages that Kirby did meant hours at the drawing board, and not much time for socializing, for him.  But, I can't recall many articles at all that discuss this aspect of comics art.

George Poague said:

Kirby doesn't seem to have had any close friends in his own age group (aside from his wife). According to Ronin Ro's book, "Tales to Astonish," Kirby and Joe Simon were partners for about 15 years, and even lived in the same neighborhood for a while, but they were not close friends. They were friendly acquaintances who worked well together, but that was all.

Sounds like Simon and other comics professionals were Kirby's "work friends". Some people we work with become close friends, some pleasant acquaintances, and some not-so-pleasant acquaintances. When he moved here to California he became close with Don Rickles, which is why he interjected him into his Fourth World books.

If this is true, it's very sad. I've read that Stan sat outside during Jack's funeral because he wasn't sure if it was okay for him to go in.

Mark Evanier has described the story at Jack's funeral this way:

As people were leaving, Ross and family were spilling out onto the sidewalk, and Mark saw Stan across the lane in the parking lot.  Someone exchanged a wave, and Stan turned to get into his car.  Mark didn't want it to end there, with only a wave, when someone (Roz?) was williing to speak with Stan.  So Mark bounded over the pavement and caught Stan before he drove off, and asked him to stay, saying something like, "You aren't leaving without speaking to Roz? She wanted to speak with you."  
Stan was hard of hearing, and over the traffic, misunderstood, not hearing the words but only the waive gesture and so only returned the wave.  He realized he had misunderstood, and immediately exited the car and walked back over to the family.  He and Roz greeted each other warmly, and there were several minutes of personal remembrances and condolences exchanged.  Mark writes that he was SO glad that he took the bull by the horns to MAKE the meeting happen, as both sides WANTED to speak, but Stan's hearing loss had almost scuttled it.

As one of the last times (or the final time) that Roz and Stan saw each other before she passed, it was fitting and appropriate that he made the effort and they both enjoyed the gesture and took comfort in it.

I believe that I read this in Marks "Point of view" blog, but I'm not 100% certain. I'm telling his tale in my words, and the sense of his article is  true, even if I've gotten a detail wrong.
Philip Portelli said:

If this is true, it's very sad. I've read that Stan sat outside during Jack's funeral because he wasn't sure if it was okay for him to go in.

Captain, I wrote about meeting Stan briefly somewhere else on the forum.  If you can find it, it contains my favorite remembrance of Stan, because it's personal, I learn what his favorite (memorable) Marvel story was, and I heard him "pass the torch" or "give his blessing" to Defalco as he became EIC in his turn.  Is this the type of story that you wanted?

It's heartbreaking to read the stories about Lee and Kirby not getting along in their personal lives when they will always be "Stan and Jack" to me and co-creating those wonderful comics together. I would have loved Kirby's Fourth World to have been published by Marvel and not DC.

And, actually, Kirby could do it by himself.  By the early seventies, Stan had passed the torch to Roy as editor, and Roy was apparently amenable to allowing writers to edit themselves.  So it was possible.

George Poague said:

"I would have loved Kirby's Fourth World to have been published by Marvel and not DC."

Maybe Marvel would have given it time to find an audience, as they did with Conan, which started at about the same time as the Fourth World and had AWFUL sales at first. (According to Roy Thomas, Conan was cancelled for one day in early 1971, but Stan talked Goodman into changing his mind.)

But I'm afraid that by that point, Kirby would not have put up with having Stan Lee as his editor anymore. I think he wanted to prove he could do it all by himself.

Marvel's expansion in the late 60's could have allowed Kirby three titles to do what he wanted. Mark Evanier assisting him with no Marvel editorial input except to eliminate a few distracting "quote marks" and exclamations!!!!

My two favourite Stan Lee stories are The Man This Monster - Fantastic Four #51 - and The Final Chapter - Spider-Man #33.

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