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Publicity stunts: KISS and the red ink


The ranks of Marveldom
Stan Lee Writer
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As I mentioned I write kind of fast, mostly ’cause I want to get rid of it. I want to get through and there's always something else I have to do. I can't waste time. And I make a lot of mistakes, a lot of mistakes. And in those days we didn't have computers, so I'd be typing. And I… if you want to do something over on a typewriter, you've got to cut and paste and it took too long. I had to let a lot of things go. And again, with my memory, sometimes I'd get a letter saying, ‘I just read the latest Hulk, and don't you remember that the Hulk's name is Bruce Banner and not Bill Banner?’ So… so many of those things and finally I decided I'm going to have fun with these things. And I said, ‘I'm going to offer a no-prize to anybody who finds an error’. I said, ‘We can't afford to pay real, to give you a real prize, but we'll give you a no-prize’. To… and everybody wondered what is a no-prize, so I had envelopes made up, and… we would write the person's name and address on the envelope, and I'd have a little note going diagonally along the front of the envelope that would say: ‘Congratulations, you are another lucky no-prize winner. You'll find it enclosed… enclosed’. They'd open it up, the envelope was empty. After a while, they'd realize a no-prize means you don't get a prize. And it was very funny; they got a big kick out of it. Again, even today I get people who say: ‘You know Stan, I found a lot of things and you never sent me a no-prize’. I have a few at home, so I'll go home and I'll get one and I'll mail it to the guy, just… which he never expects. And then… there was a fan who's quite a big writer now — name Mark Evanier — and he sent me a letter — a fan letter — and he said, what you ought to do is have the ranks of Marveldom, like you ought to have a… and he had a bunch of initials, and I can't remember what they are now, like a Real Frantic One — an RFO — and a… each set of initials meant something. The more books you bought a month gave you letters that would make you a higher rank. And those became known as the Ranks of Marveldom, and I thought that was a good idea. And again, I'd… I'd… I felt like a king taking a sword and tapping somebody kneeling in front of me on the shoulder. I would make somebody an RFO member, or a this, or that. And… I'd get a lot of mail from the readers saying, ‘I'm now at this stage. Can I become, can I be elevated to this stage because I'm buying an extra two books a month?’  And out of the goodness of my heart I would elevate them to the other stage. Everything we did, had to have a silly, funny sense to 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: The Hulk, Bruce Banner, Mark Evanier

Duration: 2 minutes, 48 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2006

Date story went live: 24 January 2008