Stan Lee and Me
According to Amazon, Stan Lee’s How to Write Comics goes on sale today, just in time for this week’s New York Comic Con. Those buying the book, or merely flipping through it at a bookstore, may notice the tiny type on page 4 crediting me as co-writer.
This book has been two years in the making. I was first contacted by Dynamic Forces back in November 2009 about helping Stan take his outline and flesh it out. It’s sort of like asking one of Moses’ followers if he’d like to collaborate on the Ten Commandments. I grew up on Stan’s work during those crazy early days of the Marvel Age of comics. By 1981, when I was working on Comics Scene, I finally got to meet The Man and interview him at the Marvel Animation offices. He couldn’t have been more cordial, sipping orange juice and sitting with a reflector to make sure his tan was nice and even.
Since then, we’ve crossed paths and given Stan’s legendary bad memory, I always got a smile and a “hey, how are you?” but he probably couldn’t conjure up my name. When I finally got to hire Stan, it was when I was editing collected editions at DC and got him to write pieces for me. He never said no and always beat the deadline which I found amazing. When Julie Schwartz passed away during the production of Absolute JLA/Avengers, Stan and I quickly worked up a patch to acknowledge his passing in the intro, because he wanted to honor a friend.
After I left DC, we didn’t have much opportunity to work together until I was managing the final issues of Danny Fingeroth’s Write Now! which dedicated an issue in honor of Stan’s 85th birthday. There were some quick exchanges since he had contributed a short piece.
But now I was going to work directly with Stan. He gave me a list of people he wanted me to interview with the goal of adding some trusted voices to the mix, which allowed me to chat with old friends like Marv Wolfman and new ones like Brian Michael Bendis. From Stan’s outline, I did tons of research, and periodically had to check in and ask questions for clarification. In one case, a subject mentioned Stan’s rules for word balloon placement. For the life of me, I couldn’t find those rules mentioned in any interview or introduction he ever wrote. I had to ask him directly and got some supplemental help on fleshing out those recollections from Jim Salicrup.
The finished manuscript was completed in January 2010 but the entire line of Stan Lee’s Guide books, which Dynamic Forces announced years ago, got delayed for whatever reason. The Art book finally came out last fall and now this one is ready to come out. Stan has been enthusiastic with how well the book turned out and I take more than a little pride in it as well.
Working with a guy who has accomplished so much and is still going at nearly 89 is a dream come true and an example to me. He was so busy at the Baltimore show in August that both Alex Saviuk (who draws the Spidey comic strip for Stan) and I couldn’t get onto his packed calendar just to say hello.
On Sunday, my pal Johanna Draper Carlson reviewed the book noting, “On one level, it doesn’t matter what’s in this book. You take that name and that subject matter, and it’s already #1 on Amazon’s search for ‘how to write comics’ before it’s even been released. On another hand, I’ve been looking forward to this volume, because it’s co-written by our friend Bob Greenberger, although you wouldn’t know it — the voice is distinctly Stan’s. ”
It was great and I hope everyone goes out and finds a copy. If you read it, we want your feedback.