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Changing my name to Stan Lee


Promotion to Editor of Timely Comics at the age of 17
Stan Lee Writer
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I had an uncle named Robbie Solomon, and he worked for a publisher named Martin Goodman. I never exactly knew what Robbie did, but he had something to do with the office. And he told me that at that publishing company, which was called Magazine Management, they were looking for an… an assistant, somebody… they needed somebody for a job. And I figured, gee, I'm going to apply. So I went up there and I found out they also published comic books. They had an outfit called Timely Comics, which was under Magazine Management, and that's where they needed the assistant. There were two guys, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, who were sort of running the thing. Joe was the editor, a writer and an artist. Jack was an artist mainly, although he wrote also, but Joe was the senior member. And they hired me to run errands, to proofread, to fill the inkwell… whatever had to be done. And I didn't really have any intention, or desire, or I was unaware that I'd ever be working in comics, but it was a job, and since I had wanted to be a writer I felt, well I'll stay here and get some experience, and then after a while I'll get out into the real world. So I stayed there and after a little while they had me checking the spelling, and the proofreading, and I would make a suggestion. Maybe you ought to have them say this instead of say that in the dialogue balloon, and they trusted me to write a story or two. And then I became a staff writer, one of… the only staff writer, 'cause I was the only guy on staff. They were buying some stories freelance, those that they weren't writing themselves. And… let me see, I stayed there for a while and it… it was kind of fun, writing those silly stories. And then Joe and Jack for some reason were fired. I can't even remember why, that something came up with them and… and Martin Goodman, the publisher. Now Martin was related to me in this way; he had married a cousin of mine, whom I didn't really know that… we weren't good friends. But because of that, he was my cousin-in-law. At any rate, when Joe and Jack left I was the only guy left in the department, and I was 17 or 17 and a half, I don't know. And Martin said to me: ‘Listen, I have to hire another editor. You think you can hold down the job until I get one?’ Well, when you're 17 years old what do you know? I said, ‘Sure I can do it’. And that was it. I became the editor and I think he forgot to hire somebody, because I remained the editor. So I was the editor, and I made myself the head writer, and I was also the art director because the editor is the guy who tells the artist how to draw. So at 17 I was really running the place, and since I was my own writer and my own editor, and I'm my biggest fan — I love everything I write — I didn't have much to change so I was able to get these stories moving very fast. There wasn't much editing required.

[Q] What sort of stories were you writing then? Which ones were they?

And of course the stories I was doing were comic book stories. The main character we had was Captain America, and we also had The Human Torch and The Submariner and The Patriarch and The Angel and The Destroyer and... I didn't make up Captain America, The Human Torch or The Submariner or The Angel. I made up a lot of the other characters that came along, I don't even remember the names. One of mine I think was The Destroyer, and I… Father Time, I think I made that up and… I don't know what happened to those strips after a while, they just died out. But I stayed at that job for years.

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: Timely Comics, Magazine Management, Captain America, The Human Torch, The Angel, The Patriarch, The Submariner, The Destroyer, Martin Goodman, Jack Kirby, Joe Simon

Duration: 3 minutes, 57 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2006

Date story went live: 24 January 2008