That's what everybody tells me. "I would've had a great comic-book collection, but my mother made me throw them away." But when I was growing up, my mother didn't care. As long as I was reading, she didn't care if my room was filled with comics. I could have saved everything. I was just too stupid to do it.
The "problem" is that Comic-Con is so damned successful. People who are there seem to have a wonderful time. The very size of it makes it exciting. Wherever you look, there's something exciting. The attendees are always looking around for a familiar face. It's either 'There's a movie star!' Or, 'There's a TV star!' Or, 'There's the guy who drew the Green Lantern!' It means so much to the fans. It makes them feel like they're where it's happening. It's like Woodstock.
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I used to be embarrassed because I was just a comic-book writer while other people were building bridges or going on to medical careers. And then I began to realize: entertainment is one of the most important things in people's lives. Without it they might go off the deep end. I feel that if you're able to entertain people, you're doing a good thing.
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It's the fact that fans still care. I like all the comics conventions: The smaller ones are easier, the bigger ones are exciting.... Each one I say: Never again. But they're all great.... These things are important because they keep the fans' interest alive in comics. They keep the fans reading and their imaginations stimulated.
I've written so many things over the years that I don't want to go back to being just a scriptwriter. I'm in what I consider to be the enviable position of all I have to do is come up with the idea and write an outline that makes it seem like it's a viable idea that will interest people, and then other people write the scripts -- and I become the executive producer or the producer, depending on how much involvement I have, and I get a creative credit and then move on to the next project.
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Jack [Kirby] and Joe [Simon] wrote and drew the stories themselves in the beginning and I was just, like, the office boy. But after a while they had more writing than they could handle and I was the only guy around, so they said, "Hey Stan, you think you can write this?" When you're seventeen years old, what do you know? I said, "Sure, I can do it!" And that was it.
Once, I'd written a Western story, and one of the panels was just a hand holding a six-shooter, and there was a puff of smoke coming out of the barrel, and a straight horizontal line, indicating the trajectory of the bullet. So that page was sent back to me from the Code office, saying that the particular panel was too violent. I asked them what they meant, and they told me--I swear--"The puff of smoke is too big." Well, of course. So I had the artist make the smoke a little smaller, and the youth of America was saved.
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I'm lucky. I don't have to produce the whole movie. What I've been doing is just coming up with ideas for movies. I write a concept, a treatment, an outline, and if I sell that to a studio, then someone else does the actual production and I go on to another project, although I keep the title executive producer.
Quality. That's the first word, the one word that comes to mind when I think of the books published by Abrams. In a world where so many companies are willing to cut corners, to do things the easy way in order to enhance the bottom line, it's gratifying to know that there's one company that obviously takes such pride in its finished product, one company that can always be counted on to design and produce a book that is, itself, as much a work of art as the illustrations on its pages.
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Everybody wants to feel that you're writing to a certain demographic because that's good business, but I've never done that ... I tried to write stories that would interest me. I'd say, what would I like to read?... I don't think you can do your best work if you're writing for somebody else, because you never know what that somebody else really thinks or wants.
When you can sit down with a plain sheet of paper in front of you and make some notes, and, little by little, you see it take shape and become a concept for a movie or a TV show. That's a real thrill. You watch it go from notes on a paper to a meeting with writers and directors and actors. I can't think of anything that's more exciting.
... And we talk it out. Lately, I've had Roy Thomas come in, and he sits and makes notes while we discuss it. Then he types them up, which gives us a written synopsis. Originally - I have a little tape recorder - I had tried taping it, but then I found no one on staff has time to listen to the tape again later. But this way he makes notes, types it quickly, I get a carbon, the artist gets a carbon ... so we don't have to worry that we'll forget what we've said.
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Some artists, such as Jack Kirby, need no plot at all. I mean I'll just say to Jack, "Let's let the next villain be Dr. Doom" ... or I may not even say that. He may tell me. And then he goes home and does it. He's so good at plots, I'm sure he's a thousand times better than I. He just makes up the plots for these stories. All I do is a little editing ... I may tell him that he's gone too far in one direction or another. Of course, occasionally I'll give him a plot, but we're practically both the writers on the things.
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What did Doctor Doom really want? He wanted to rule the world. Now, think about this. You could walk across the street against a traffic light and get a summons for jaywalking, but you could walk up to a police officer and say "I want to rule the world," and there's nothing he can do about it, that is not a crime. Anybody can want to rule the world. So, even though he was the Fantastic Four's greatest menace, in my mind, he was never a criminal!
In the beginning Marvel created the Bullpen and the Style. And the Bullpen was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the Artists. And the Spirit of Marvel said, Let there be The Fantasic Four. And there was The Fantasic Four. And Marvel saw The Fantasic Four. And it was good.
Some people will say, "Why read a comic book? It stifles the imagination. If you read a novel you imagine what people are like. If you read a comic, it's showing you." The only answer I can give is, "You can read a Shakespeare play, but does that mean you wouldn't want to see it on the stage?
I think there's the element of the excitement of what I'm going to see, and with the special effects where you see men flying and walking through walls and shooting flame or whatever they do, especially the younger audiences, which make up a bulk of the moviegoers, they love that sort of thing.
I'm no prophet, but I'm guessing that comic books will always be strong. I don't think anything can really beat the pure fun and pleasure of holding a magazine in your hand, reading the story on paper, being able to roll it up and put it in your pocket, reread again later, show it to a friend, carry it with you, toss it on a shelf, collect them, have a lot of magazines lined up and read them again as a series. I think young people have always loved that. I think they always will.
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MARVEL IS A CORNUCOPIA OF FANTASY, A WILD IDEA , A SWASHBUCKLING ATTITUDE , AN ESCAPE FROM THE HUMDRUM AND PROSAIC. IT'S A SERENDIPITOUS FEAST FOR THE MIND, THE EYE , AND THE IMAGINATION, A LITERATE CELEBRATION OF UNBRIDLED CREATIVITY, COUPLED WITH A TOUCH OF REBELLION AND AN INSOLENT DESIRE TO SPIT IN THE EYE OF THE DRAGON.
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I'm sort of a pressure writer. If somebody says, "Stan, write something," and I have to have it by tomorrow morning, I'll just sit down and I'll write it. It always seems to come to me. But I'm better doing a rushed job because if it isn't something that's due quickly, I won't work on it until it becomes almost an emergency and then I'll do it.
My mother was the greatest mother in the world. She thought I was the greatest thing on two feet. I'd come home with a little composition I had written at school, and she'd look at it and say, 'It's wonderful! You're another Shakespeare!' I always assumed I could do anything. It really is amazing how much that has to do with your attitude.
The experience of reading a printed comic book will never change, but now, thanks to the digital age, there are many different ways to enjoy the same story. Digital comic books, of course, can be interactive in many different ways, allowing the reader to feel like a participant in the story.