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Growing up during the Depression in New York


Publicity stunts: KISS and the red ink
Stan Lee Writer
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Publicity is really one of the most important things in the world. You could have the greatest product in the world, if people don't know about it, it dies a'borning. So we… I love publicity, and as long as it's based on something. One day we decided to do a book based on the rock group KISS. I had met… oh it's great, I forget his name, the guy with the long tongue…Gene… Gene Simmons? Gene Simmons. Yeah. I had met Gene Simmons, in fact we had become quite friendly. And I remember, when they first started and he and Gene [sic] Stanley came up to my office, and they said:‘What do you think of our costume?’and they had these boots with soles this thick that made them six and half feet tall, and I'm looking at them and I'm thinking, these guys are crazy. Shows what I knew. But anyway, we decided to do a comic book based on KISS. And some publicity guy got the idea that they would go up to the printing plant where the books were printed, and each of the four members of KISS would take a pin and just prick their finger, and get a few drops of blood to come out, and drop those blots of… those blobs of blood… drops of blood, into the ink… into the red ink. I said, ‘You guys are out of your mind’. He said, ’No, no, it's great. It will get a lot of publicity’. The idea being that every kid, or everybody, who bought a KISS comic book, in some way was getting a little bit of KISS's blood in that comic book. That's brilliant. And sure enough, they chartered a plane, I went with them — like an idiot — we flew up to Buffalo where the press was, and I'll never forget this. The city of Buffalo had been told that we were coming, and there were policemen stopping… you know, two limousines were waiting. Policemen were at corners stopping traffic while we went to the printer, and all I could think of was these… this traffic that was stopped, there's probably some doctor going to save a person's life, there's probably some guy going to his job which is an important job. These people were being stopped while five morons — the four of them and me — are going to go and drop some blood in a printing plant. But anyway, we went there, and they put their little blood in there, and we drove back and… Tell you one thing, Gene Simmons has a photographic memory. On the plane going and coming, he was telling me — he's apparently a big fan — he was telling me, ‘Stan, do you remember that story you wrote in Spider-Man number 23? The third panel on the fifth page when you’… He remembered every… I've never known a guy… literally, a photographic memory. He… I was so impressed with him. He's really a nice guy and a shrewd business man. But he… a drop of his blood is somewhere in one of those comic books, and there it'll stay.

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: KISS, Buffalo, Spider-Man, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley

Duration: 3 minutes, 15 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2006

Date story went live: 24 January 2008