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Mad Magazine


My love of reading and writing
Stan Lee Writer
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I don't remember what age I started reading at, I think I was born reading. I mean I can't remember a time when I wasn't reading, and my mother used to say that… well, when I ate I had to have something to read. If she gave me breakfast or lunch or dinner… in fact, one of the first gifts they ever bought me was a reading stand, a little stand to prop up on the table so I could rest a book against it while I ate. And she used to say, if I didn't have a book to read, I'd read the label on a ketchup bottle. So I… I don't know what age. I… I was no genius. I'm sure I started reading when any kid did, but… but I loved reading. I really did.

[Q] And is it true, when you were writing from home, that you had a stand that you could put your typewriter on…Oh, oh yes. So that you could keep moving?

I don't know how you knew that. When we lived in Long Island… I loved the sun, and I loved being out. And the one thing I didn't want was to become a pot-bellied old man. And so many writers I knew — because they sit at a desk all the time — get that way. So we had a terrace in our house that, the sun was always on the terrace. It was just situated in such a way. The sun rose here and set there, and all that time it faced the terrace. So what I did, I took a bridge table and I put it… opened it up, put it on the terrace, then I took another little table of some sort, or a soap box, I don't know, and I put it on top of the bridge table, and my portable typewriter on top of that. And I would stand and type. Sometimes I'd just wear a pair of swimming trunks if it was the middle of the summer. I would stand and type, and as the sun moved I would just keep moving while I was typing. You know, I'd keep moving the typewriter. And I tried for years, on the nice… in the nice weather — not in the rain or not on a cold day — but when the weather was nice I would stand outside and type. And sometimes the artists would come over and deliver the work to me, and they'd make fun of me. They'd see me out there standing and typing, and say: ‘Why doesn't your wife buy you a chair?’ But… and it was funny because the terrace was right near that pool that I told you that we made — the little plastic pool, put it into the ground — and we always had company. Our neighbor — Joan was incredibly popular — there were always people coming over, and after a while it was like I didn't exist. I'd be standing there typing, and they'd be talking and partying and drinking and kidding around, and any other guy it might have disturbed, but I was so used to working with noise and commotion and confusion around, I didn't even know they were there. Because even in the office when I used to work, there were millions of people walking in and out. Never bothered me, I just kept writing. Wow. Very focused. Pardon me? You must be very focused to channel out all those distractions… all those pretty ladies. When I write, that's the only thing on my mind. But I can't… it's a funny thing, I cannot write if the radio is on, or the television is on. I don't mind if people are there talking, but the television, radio… which I feel bad about because it would be nice to be able to have some music or something while I'm writing… but if there's music, the lyrics keep going around in my mind, or the rhythm, and instead of thinking, I'd going da-da-da-da-da, in my mind and I can't do it.

The creative genius of American writer, Stan Lee (1922-2018) 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: Long Island

Duration: 3 minutes, 36 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2006

Date story went live: 24 January 2008