I’ve just been interviewed on Australian TV’s ABC News, about the legacy of Stan Lee. There is naturally a lot of this about right now, but I have been encouraged to share it. I wasn’t on for long, and you can probably see Jonathan Ross do a much better job than this on BBC’s Newsnight but I hope I wasn’t too awful.
I first met Stan Lee when I was a young man, interviewing him for the University newspaper ostensibly about a Marvel history book that had been published at the time, with a PR company desperate to find anyone to cover it and theorising that someone at a random North Eastern University might just have heard of this man.
This was the early nineties, outside of comic shops, there were few who could have known the name. Maybe from the Saturday morning Spider-Man cartoons that we were all too old for. But I’d been reading the name in the Marvel UK weekly reprints comics since I was young – in the early eighties, they reprinted Lee and Kirby X-Men, Fantastic Four and Thor twenty years after they were originally published. I didn’t know, as far as I was aware they were brand new. And I loved them.
Ten years later, in that university newsroom, where I was the regular cartoonist and occasional feature writer, that one man was me. I played it as cool as possible before I got to that hotel room to talk to a god amongst men.
The interview is lost, it doesn’t even seem to have been archived (I checked) but what I remember most is talking to Stan about his wife, Joan. She was English, she was born in South Shields, just up the road and it was a delight to hear Stan talk enthusiastically about her, the Marvel universe an afterthought in comparison. We ended up talking more about local history and geography, the turn of the Tyne river, how far we were from Hadrian’s Wall, why the locals were called Geordies and just what the hell a stottie cake was, anyway.
The second time I met Stan Lee properly, was twenty years later at London Supercon in 2012, I was interviewing him for Disney, to promote his appearance at the show. It was on camera, Disney no longer appear to have the video available. But I did keep a copy of the audio for myself. He was gracious and kind as ever and I was just as nervous as before.
But I wanted to share it with you. Hope it’s okay.