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The Marvel Method
Stan Lee Writer
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You know… there is something called the Marvel Method of writing comics, which is really the Stan Lee Method. What happened was… they had always been written – scripted – the way a motion picture has a screenplay. And I used to write them that way, I'd write the script, give it to the artist and he would draw it. But by the time we were doing Spider-Man and The Hulk and The Fantastic Four and Iron Man and Daredevil and Thor – I didn't even mention The X-Men – and The X-Men. I couldn't write them fast enough. And these artists were so brilliant, and they were so good at story themselves that I would say to the artist, ‘Look, this is the plot I want’, and I would either tell them in a few words what the story was or I would write an outline on a page or two pages, or a few paragraphs. And I'd say, ‘You go ahead and draw it any way you want. It doesn't matter, I'll put the words in and tie it altogether’. And they did that, and it worked out beautifully because the artist wasn't handicapped by… or inhibited by my descriptions. The artist could tell the story visually any way he wanted, and once I got the pages back and I was looking at the drawings, it was so easy for me to pinpoint the dialogue and make it exactly fit the expression on the character's face, and so forth. And I loved working that way. And I was the guy who put in all the sound effects. I would letter them and… and I had a th… a way of working. If the illustration was… see a writer has a lot of freedom. If the illustration was very beautiful I'd put very little or no dialogue in, 'cause I wanted the illustration to show. If we had an area where you had a few panels that not much was going on, and they weren't that interesting, I'd put in as much dialogue as I could, and sound effects, and I spaced… see I laid out the balloons too. I would put the balloons in such a way that they seemed to be part of the design, and they made the panel look more interesting than it was. So, working that way, it became known as the Marvel method, and now a lot of people… I'd say probably as many people work that way as the original way now. There are still people who like to write their own script, and more power to them, but I love this system. You tell the artist what the story is, let him draw it any way he wants to, and then you put the dialogue and the captions in and exactly match the illustration that you have.

The creative genius of American writer, Stan Lee, who was born in 1922, brought us 'Spider Man', 'X-Men' and 'The Hulk'. They climbed tall buildings and fought the bad guys, but had normal worries too, about love, acceptance and family. Readers loved them and Marvel Comics, with Lee at the helm, went on to become hugely successful. In 2010 the Stan Lee Foundation was founded to focus on literacy, education and the arts. On January 4, 2011 Lee received the 2428th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Listeners: Leo Bear

Leo Bear is a Hollywood-based features writer. Her background is in news and features writing. Leo spent five years on the entertainment newsdesk at BBC Worldwide before going freelance and moving out to Los Angeles. She specialises in writing lifestyle features, celebrity interviews, health stories and travel features for publications including Eve Magazine, OK! Magazine, Total Film, TV Hits and Conde Nast Gourmet Travel Guide.

Tags: Marvel Comics, Spider-man, The Hulk, Daredevil, Iron Man, The X-Men, Thor, Stan Lee

Duration: 3 minutes, 6 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2006

Date story went live: 24 January 2008