Transcript: Marvel Comics | Sep 01, 1976

Mike McManus stands in a television studio, in front of a furry wall that reads his name. He’s in his late forties, clean-shaven, with short side-parted blond hair. He’s wearing a dark green suede suit, white shirt and polka dotted brown tie.

He says MARVEL COMICS SELL OVER
75 MILLION COPIES A YEAR
OF THEIR WARES.
AND AS MANY PEOPLE OVER THE
AGE OF 15 READ THEM AS UNDER.
THE REASON, WELL A BIG
PART OF IT, IS STAN LEE.
OUR SUBJECT, HOWARD THE
DUCK, THE HULK, THE AMAZING
SPIDERMAN, AND STAN LEE.

Images of the comics appear on screen as Mike names them.

In animation, the phrase "The education of Mike McManus" flies by, as Mike walks across the studio and joins his guest at a small round table.

The opening sequence rolls.
Soft flute music plays.

Portraits of Mike made of dots in different colours flash by as the title flies by: The Education of Mike McManus.

Stan Lee is in his early fifties, with early fifties, with short wavy gray hair and a brown moustache. He wears beige trousers, a brown suede blazer, light gray shirt and brown tie.

Mike says STAN LEE, 1961 WAS THE
TURNING POINT IN YOUR LIFE.
YOU HAD BEEN 21 YEARS IN
THE COMIC BOOK FIELD,
AND THEN A BREAKTHROUGH.
AND YOU'VE RECORDED THIS
MOMENT IN THE HISTORY OF
MARVEL COMICS, AND I WOULD
LIKE YOU TO READ WHAT YOU WROTE.

Stan says REALLY?
OKAY.
YOU MEAN THE
INTRODUCTION?

Mike says RIGHT.

Stan takes his book, puts on glasses and reads an excerpt.

Stan says THE PREFACE.
THE FEW IMMORTAL WORDS
TO GET THE THING GOING.
IN THE BEGINNING, MARVEL
CREATED THE BULLPEN
AND THE STYLE.
AND THE BULLPEN WAS
WITHOUT FORM AND WAS VOID.
AND DARKNESS WAS UPON
THE FACE OF THE ARTISTS.
AND THE SPIRIT OF MARVEL MOVED
UPON THE FACE OF THE WRITERS
AND MARVEL SAID, LET THERE
BE THE FANTASTIC FOUR.
AND THERE WAS THE
FANTASTIC FOUR.
AND MARVEL SAW THE FANTASTIC
FOUR, AND IT WAS GOOD.
[laughing]
THAT WAS OUR
LITTLE PREFACE.
I THOUGHT I HAD TO SAY
SOMETHING TO SET THE MOOD SO
THAT PEOPLE WOULDN'T JUST
THINK THIS IS A BOOK ABOUT
SHALLOW COMIC STRIPS.

Mike says OH, NO.
IT'S A VERY
SERIOUS BUSINESS.
WHAT WERE COMICS ALL
ABOUT BEFORE 1961, STAN?

Stan says WELL, AND OF COURSE, I CAN'T
CRITICIZE THEM TOO MUCH,
BECAUSE I WAS PRODUCING
THEM AS MUCH AS ANYBODY,
BUT THEY WERE REALLY PRETTY
ONE-DIMENSIONAL, YOU KNOW?
THE BAD GUYS WERE ALL
A HUNDRED PERCENT BAD.
THE GOOD GUYS WERE TOTALLY
GOOD, AND THE STORIES ALWAYS
HAD A HAPPY ENDING, WHICH
OCCURRED ON THE VERY LAST
PANEL OF THE LAST PAGE.
THE VILLAIN WENT OFF TO JAIL
OR WORSE, AND THE HERO WENT
OFF TO THE SUNSET.
AND THEY WERE OKAY.
THEY SERVED A PURPOSE, BUT
THEY REALLY DIDN'T SEEM TO BE
INTENDED FOR ANYBODY WHO
WANTED A
REAL
STORY OR
SOMETHING WITH A LITTLE
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT
WHEN READING THE STORY.

Mike says YEAH.
SO THERE'S A CHANGE
THEN, IN CONTENT.
CONTENT GETS A LITTLE
MORE REALISTIC.
BUT THERE'S ALSO A CHANGE, I
UNDERSTAND, IN THE ARTWORK.

Stan says WELL, PROBABLY, THE CHANGE
IS JUST IN THE METHOD OF THE
TELLING THE STORY.
IN THE PAST, THE ARTISTS
WERE ALWAYS GOOD.
THE ARTISTS WERE
TERRIBLY TALENTED.
WE HAVE SOME ARTISTS TODAY,
AND IN THE PAST, WHO COULD BE
ILLUSTRATING BOOK COVERS,
ADVERTISEMENTS, PAINTINGS FOR
BOOK COVERS, AND
MOST ANYTHING.
THEY'RE FANTASTIC ARTISTS.
BUT IN THE EARLY DAYS OF
COMICS, ALL THEY WOULD DO WAS
DRAW THE HERO ENCOUNTERING THE
VILLAIN, PUNCHING HIM IN THE
NOSE, RUNNING
AWAY, CHASING HIM.
IT WAS SO SIMPLISTIC.
TODAY, THEY TRY TO MATCH THE
ILLUSTRATION TO THE DIALOGUE
THAT THE WRITERS ARE WRITING.
AND THEY TRY TO EVEN MAKE THE
ILLUSTRATIONS A LITTLE DEEPER
AND MORE PROFOUND, AND
MORE MEANINGFUL, YOU KNOW.
AND ALSO WHAT HAS HAPPENED...
AND I'D LIKE TO THINK THAT
MARVEL COMICS WAS RESPONSIBLE
FOR THIS -- WE STARTED GIVING
SCREEN CREDITS TO THE
ARTISTS AND WRITERS.
THIS HAD NEVER BEEN
DONE IN THE PAST.

A fast clip shows images of the Spiderman comic.

Mike says OH, REALLY?

Stan says YEAH.
WE STARTED PUTTING IN
ILLUSTRATED BY, WRITTEN BY
AND SO FORTH.
NOW, THE ARTIST AND THE WRITER
TOO, HAS A NEW SENSE OF PRIDE
IN WHAT HE DOES, BECAUSE
HIS NAME IS ON IT.
OTHER PEOPLE SEE
IT, YOU SEE.
SO I LIKE TO THINK THAT
THE ARTISTS TRY A LITTLE
HARDER NOW, TOO.
THEY FEEL DEEPER ABOUT
WHAT THEY'RE DOING.

Mike says NOW IF THERE'S BEEN A CHANGE
SOMEHOW IN THE CONTENT OR
SHAPING THE CONTENT, A CHANGE
SOMEHOW IN THE ARTWORK, HAS
THERE BEEN A CHANGE ALSO,
SINCE 1961, IN THE AUDIENCE?

Stan says PROBABLY THE BIGGEST
CHANGE OF ALL, BEFORE '61,
YOUR AVERAGE READER
STOPPED READING BY THE
TIME HE REACHED THE AGE
OF 13, OR MAYBE 14.

Mike says STOPPED READING COMICS.

Stan says YEAH.
I'M SORRY, OF COURSE
THAT'S WHAT I MEANT.
AND THEY WOULD START
AT THE AGE OF...

Mike says FOR YOU, THAT'S
STOPPING READING.

Stan laughs and says
WELL...
THEY WOULD START AT THE AGE OF
5 OR 6, AND AS I SAY, AS THEY
GOT INTO THEIR VERY EARLY
TEENS, THEY WOULD STOP.
I'M VERY HAPPY TO SAY THAT NOW
WE'VE TAKEN SURVEYS OF THE
DEMOGRAPHICS OF THE AVERAGE
MARVEL READER, 15 YEARS OF AGE
IS THE MEDIAN AGE.
WE HAVE AS MANY READERS
FROM 15 TO 25 AS WE HAVE
FROM 5 TO 15.
SO I THINK THAT'S REALLY
A GREAT ACCOMPLISHMENT.

Mike says YEAH.
CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE
BIT ABOUT THE MECHANICS
OF THE PROCESS?
BRAINSTORMING MEETINGS,
HOW IDEAS GET GOING,
HOW YOU KEEP FUNCTIONING?
HOW STORIES DEVELOPED,
WHO'S IN CONTROL?

Stan says WELL, FOR A LONG
TIME, I WAS.
I WROTE MOST OF THE STORIES,
AND I WAS THE EDITOR AND THE
ART DIRECTOR AND
THE HEAD WRITER.
I'M NOT ANY LONGER.
I'M NOW THE PUBLISHER, SO I
HAVE EDITORS AND WRITERS AND
SO FORTH, ALTHOUGH I TRY TO
STAY AS CLOSE AS POSSIBLE
TO THE CREATIVE PROCESS.

Mike says HOW MANY COMICS ARE WE
TALKING ABOUT, STAN?

Stan says WELL, WE PUBLISH
ABOUT 40 A MONTH.

Mike says 40 A
MONTH, OKAY.

A caption reads "Stan Lee."

Stan says THAT'S REALLY THE EQUIVALENT
OF TWO EVERY WORKING DAY
IN THE MONTH.
THE WAY IT WORKS -- WELL, I
HAVE TO DIGRESS FOR A MOMENT,
BECAUSE WE WORK DIFFERENTLY
THAN THE OTHER COMPANIES.
WE EVEN WORK DIFFERENTLY
THAN WE DID IN THE PAST.
IN THE PAST, AND OUR
COMPETITION STILL DOES THIS,
THE WRITER WOULD WRITE A
SCRIPT, WHICH IS VERY MUCH THE
WAY YOU WRITE A PLAY.
WHERE A PLAY SAYS ACT 1, SCENE
1, MIKE MCMANUS ENTERS STAGE
LEFT AND DOES SUCH AND SUCH.
THE COMIC STRIP WOULD HAVE
SAID, PAGE 1, PANEL 1, MIKE
MCMANUS IS WALKING DOWN THE
STREET AND HE SEES A MONSTER,
YOU KNOW, BUT IT'S
ESSENTIALLY THE SAME FORMAT.
AND I USED TO DO IT THAT WAY,
BUT WHAT WOULD HAPPEN WAS
I WAS WRITING STORIES FOR MANY
ARTISTS, AND I'D BE WRITING A
STORY FOR ONE FELLOW NAMED
JACK KIRBY, AND ANOTHER FELLOW,
DON HECK, WOULD WALK IN AND
SAY, STAN, I NEED A SCRIPT.
AND I'D SAY, I
CAN'T GIVE YOU ONE.
I DIDN'T FINISH JACK'S YET.
SO JUST BECAUSE IT WAS SORT
OF AN EMERGENCY, I WOULD SAY,
LOOK DON, I'LL TELL YOU WHAT
THE PLOT IS, YOU GO AHEAD AND
DRAW IT ANY WAY YOU WANT.
THEN BRING ME THE DRAWINGS.
BY THEN I'LL HAVE FINISHED
JACK'S SCRIPT, AND I'LL PUT
THE DIALOGUE IN OVER
YOUR DRAWINGS, YOU SEE.
IT STARTED OUT BECAUSE THERE
WAS NO OTHER WAY TO DO IT, BUT
I BEGAN TO REALIZE THAT IS
THE BEST WAY OF ALL TO DO IT.
AND WE ALL WORK THAT WAY
NOW AT MARVEL COMICS.
THE WRITER DISCUSSES THE
STORY WITH THE ARTIST,
THEY BOTH AGREE UPON
THE OVERALL PLOT.
THE ARTIST THEN DRAWS IT
AS BEST HE CAN WITH NO
INTERFERENCE FROM THE WRITER.
HE THEN BRINGS THE
DRAWINGS TO THE WRITER.
THE WRITER, WHILE LOOKING AT
THE DRAWINGS, PUTS IN THE
DIALOGUE AND THE CAPTIONS.
IT'S LIKE DOING A CROSSWORD
PUZZLE, YOU KNOW.
BUT WHAT HAPPENS IS
YOU GET BETTER STORIES.
BECAUSE YOU CAN IMAGINE, MIKE,
IT IS EASIER TO WRITE DIALOGUE
WHICH IS ON TARGET WHEN YOU'RE
LOOKING AT THE EXPRESSION OF
THE PERSON WHO'S SAYING THE
LINES, RATHER THAN WHEN YOU'RE
LOOKING AT A BLANK PIECE OF
PAPER, AND VERY OFTEN THE
ARTIST WON'T INTERPRET
IT THE WAY YOU WROTE IT.
IT'S EASIER FOR THE WRITER TO
INTERPRET THE DIALOGUE THE WAY
THE ARTIST HAS DRAWN IT.
SO THAT'S THE WAY WE WORK.
AFTER THE ARTIST DOES IT IN
PENCIL, IT GOES TO THE WRITER.
HE TYPES IN THE DIALOGUE.
IT THEN GOES TO A LETTERER,
WHO USING THE TYPE SHEET AND
WITH THE ORIGINAL ARTWORK IN
FRONT OF HIM, LETTERS IT IN
IN INK ON THE ARTWORK.
IT THEN GOES TO WHAT WE CALL
AN INKER, WHO TRACES THE
PENCIL DRAWINGS IN INK SO
THAT THEY CAN BE PHOTOGRAPHED
BY THE ENGRAVER.
THEN IT GOES TO THE ENGRAVER...
OH, THEN PHOTOSTATS OF THE
PAGES ARE MADE, AND THEY'RE
COLOURED AS A COLOUR GUIDE
FOR THE ENGRAVER.
ALL THIS GOES TO THE ENGRAVER,
AND AFTER THAT IT'S AS MUCH OF
A MYSTERY TO ME AS IT
PROBABLY IS TO YOU.
IT GOES TO THE ENGRAVER
WHO DOES SOMETHING TO IT.
IT GOES TO THE PRINTER
WHO DOES SOMETHING ELSE.
THEN IT'S OFF
TO THE STORES.

Mike says I SEE.
AND THAT INITIAL DISCUSSION
BETWEEN YOURSELF AND THE
ARTIST ABOUT HOW YOU SEE THE
WHOLE PLOT OF THE STORY, THAT
REALLY IS AN INDIVIDUAL KIND
OF CREATION THAT DOESN'T COME
OUT OF A WHOLE GROUP MEETING?

Stan says OH, NO.
WE'VE NEVER BEEN ABLE TO
DO STORIES BY COMMITTEE.
IN FACT, IT'S A FUNNY THING.
I'M DOING A NEWSPAPER STRIP
NOW OF ONE OF OUR CHARACTERS.
SPIDERMAN.
AND THE PRESSURE
IS REALLY ENORMOUS.
I THINK IT'S HERE IN TORONTO,
AS A MATTER OF FACT.
BUT, ANYWAY, IT'S SHOWN ON
DAILY AND SUNDAY IN PAPERS
ALL OVER.
WELL, TO HAVE TO CONTINUE TO
PRODUCE THIS, AND ALSO DO A
FULL-TIME JOB AT THE SAME
TIME, IT'S VERY TIME CONSUMING.
SO I TRIED TO
GET SOME HELP.
I CALLED ONE OR TWO PEOPLE
I KNOW, AND I SAID, LOOK,
COULD YOU HELP ME?
I'LL TELL YOU ROUGHLY WHAT I'D
LIKE TO DO WITH SPIDERMAN.
COULD YOU JUST WRITE A LITTLE
SYNOPSIS OF HOW THE STORY
SHOULD GO THAT I COULD
USE WHEN I WRITE IT JUST
TO SAVE ME TIME.
I'VE HAD ABOUT FIVE FELLOWS DO
IT, I'M SURE SOME OF THEM ARE
BETTER WRITERS THAN I
AM, BUT I CAN'T USE IT.
CAN'T DO IT.
I JUST CANNOT USE
SOMEBODY ELSE'S WORK.

Mike says ALL RIGHT, STAN, THAT TAKES
US -- YOU'VE TRIGGERED ME.
I WANT TO GET INTO SOME OF THE
SUPERHEROES THAT YOU HAVE.
AND I WANT TO TALK
FIRST ABOUT... THE HULK.

A fast clip shows a copy of The Hulk comic.

Stan says OLD GREEN SKIN.
TELL ME ABOUT
OLD GREEN SKIN.
WELL, OUR JOLLY GREEN GIANT
WAS ORIGINALLY CREATED AFTER
WE HAD DONE OUR FIRST
CHARACTERS, A TEAM CALLED
THE FANTASTIC FOUR.
AND THAT WAS THE FIRST GROUP
WE DID IN THE SO-CALLED MARVEL
STYLE, TRYING TO BE MORE
REALISTIC WITH THESE CRAZY,
FANTASTIC CHARACTERS.
THE FANTASTIC FOUR WAS SO
SUCCESSFUL THAT THE FELLOW WHO
WAS THEN MY PUBLICIST SAID
LET'S COME UP WITH ANOTHER BOOK.
SO I FIGURED, OKAY, THE
FANTASTIC FOUR WAS SORT
OF OFFBEAT.
I DON'T WANT TO DO SOMETHING
THAT'S TOO ORDINARY OR CLICHED.
WHAT CAN I DO THAT'LL
BE EVEN MORE DIFFERENT?
IT OCCURRED TO ME IF WE DID
A SERIES ABOUT A MONSTER AND
MADE HIM THE HERO, SORT OF A
LOVABLE MONSTER -- AND NOBODY
THAT I KNEW OF HAD
DONE THAT BEFORE.
WELL, I HAD ALWAYS LOVED
THE FRANKENSTEIN MONSTER,
YOU KNOW, IN
FRANKENSTEIN.
I NEVER FELT HE
WAS THE VILLAIN.
IT SEEMED TO ME THESE IDIOTS
WITH THE TORCHES WHO WENT
AROUND CHASING HIM,
THEY WERE THE VILLAINS.
HE JUST WANTED TO BE LEFT
ALONE, AND WALK THROUGH THE
COUNTRYSIDE GOING,
UHHHH,
YOU KNOW, AS MONSTERS DO.
SO I FIGURED, WE'LL GET A
MONSTER LIKE THAT, BUT SO
THAT THE READER CAN
EMPATHIZE WITH HIM.
AND SO HE ISN'T JUST A
TOTAL BLITHERING IDIOT,
WE'LL MAKE HIM A SCIENTIST.
AND WE USED THE JEKYLL
AND HYDE SYNDROME.
HE'S A SCIENTIST WHO TURNED
INTO THE MONSTER UPON
OCCASION, AND THEN WOULD
REVERT BACK TO HIS NORMAL
CONDITION AS A SCIENTIST.
AND I NEEDED A
HULK -- NOT A HULK --
I NEEDED A NAME FOR HIM, AND
FOR SOME REASON OR OTHER,
I CAME UP WITH THE HULK, WHICH
EVERYBODY SAID WAS CRAZY,
BUT IT TURNED OUT
TO BE A GOOD NAME.
I THINK THE KIDS LOVE IT,
AND I'VE GROWN TO LOVE IT.
I'VE GROWN TO LOVE THE HULK.

Mike says IT IS IMPORTANT THOUGH
THAT HE HAVE SOME FLAWS.
YOUR SUPERHERO HAVE SOME
FLAWS, SOMETHING THAT WE CAN
IDENTIFY, SOMETHING THAT SORT
OF HUMANIZES THEM THOUGH,
ISN'T IT?

Stan says ACTUALLY, I GUESS THAT'S
ONE OF OUR MANY BIG GIMMICKS.
WE TRY TO GIVE ALL
OUR HEROES FLAWS.
THEY'RE VERY FLAWED.
BECAUSE AS I SAID, IN TRYING
TO BE REALISTIC WITH THESE
CHARACTERS, AND I THINK THIS
IS SOMETHING THAT HAD NEVER
BEEN DONE BEFORE.
NOBODY WHO PRODUCED SUPERHERO
STORIES EVER REALLY TOOK THEM
THAT SERIOUSLY BEFORE.
BUT WE SAID TO OURSELVES -- OR
I WOULD SAY, SUPPOSE I HAD A
SUPERPOWER -- WHICH IS NOT FOR
A MOMENT TO BE CONSTRUED AS AN
ADMISSION THAT I DON'T -- BUT
ASSUMING I HAD A SUPERPOWER,
WOULDN'T I STILL HAVE TO WORRY
ABOUT ATHLETE'S FOOT, OR ACNE,
OR DANDRUFF OR MAKING A
LIVING, OR TEARING MY SUIT
JACKET, OR WHATEVER, YOU SEE.
SO I FIGURED OKAY, THESE
CHARACTERS ALL ARE BIGGER
THAN LIFE IN SOME
RESPECT BUT...

Mike says WITH ACNE.

Stan says RIGHT.
BUT IT MIGHT BE FUN TO
GIVE THEM HUMAN PROBLEMS.
YOU KNOW, WORRY ABOUT EARNING
A LIVING, WORRY ABOUT GETTING
A DATE AND SO FORTH.
AND WHEN WE DID THAT,
IT'S A FUNNY THING.
I WAS TRYING TO BE REALISTIC,
BUT IT SHOWS THE WORLD IS
SO CRAZY THAT IF YOU TRY TO BE
REALISTIC, IT COMES ACROSS
AS SATIRE.
COLLEGE KIDS STARTED READING
THE BOOKS AND WRITING ME
LETTERS, AND SAYING, HEY STAN,
THESE STORIES ARE THE BEST
SATIRE WE'VE READ.
WHAT A GREAT SATIRIST YOU ARE.
SO I FOUND OUT I'M A SATIRIST.
I NEVER KNEW.

Mike says WOULD YOU SAY A WORD ABOUT
THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN?

Stan says WELL, WE REFER TO
HIM AS SPIDEY, THE
WEB-SLINGING WONDER.
THE WALL-CRAWLING WEASEL AS
HIS ENEMY, JONAH JAMESON
CALLS HIM.
I THINK THE THING I LIKE
BEST ABOUT SPIDEY IS A,
THAT HE'S SO SUCCESSFUL.
HE'S OUR BEST-SELLING BOOK.
IN FACT, RIGHT NOW, WE'RE
WORKING ON A PRIME TIME LIVE
ACTION TELEVISION SERIES
FOR HIM TO COMPETE WITH
THE SIX MILLION
DOLLAR MAN.
AND THERE ARE BOOKS ABOUT HIM,
AND THE NEWSPAPER STRIP
AND SO FORTH.
AND I THINK, AGAIN, THE REASON
PROBABLY FOR HIS POPULARITY
IS, IN THE CASE OF SPIDERMAN,
WE CAME CLOSER TO OUR TARGET,
OUR TARGET OF REALISM, THAN
WE DID PROBABLY WITH ANY
OF THE OTHER CHARACTERS.
WE MADE HIM A TEENAGER
ORIGINALLY, WHO WAS
REALLY A LOSER.
IN FACT, WE JOKINGLY REFER
TO HIM AS THE WOODY ALLEN
OF THE SUPERHEROES.
HE'D DO SOMETHING TO GET
REWARD MONEY, AND THEN I
REMEMBER ONE OF THE STORIES I
WROTE 15 YEARS AGO, HE NEEDED
MONEY BADLY, SO HE APPEARED ON
THE THEN
ED SULLIVAN SHOW
TO
SHOW OFF HIS SKILLS.
HE CLIMBED UP A
WALL AND SO FORTH.
AND HE GOT PAID A CHEQUE
FOR A THOUSAND DOLLARS.
HE SAID, WOW, I
GOT MY MONEY.
BUT THEN HE REALIZED HE
COULDN'T CASH THE CHEQUE
BECAUSE IT WAS MADE OUT TO
SPIDERMAN, HE DIDN'T HAVE A
BANK ACCOUNT IN THAT NUMBER,
SO THAT WAS -- IN THAT
NAME.
THAT WAS A FIASCO.
AND HE HAS TROUBLE WITH, AS
I MENTIONED EARLIER, WITH
EARNING A LIVING, TROUBLE
WITH GETTING DATES.
HE WISHES HE
WEREN'T A SUPERHERO.
HE LIKE AS NOT WILL SAY, WHAT
AM I DOING ALL THIS FOR?
AM I JUST SOME
GIANT EGO TRIP?
I MEAN WHO NEEDS IT?
WHY DON'T I GO OUT AND
EARN AN HONEST LIVING?
SO I THINK THE READER CAN
REALLY FIGURE, GEE, HE'S THE
WAY I MIGHT BE, IF I
WERE A NUTTY SUPERHERO.

Mike says YEAH.
LET'S TALK ABOUT
YOUR VILLAINS.

Stan says OH, I LOVE THEM.

Mike says DOCTOR DOOM.

An image of the Doctor Doom Character appears.

Stan says YEAH.
DOCTOR DOOM.
HE WAS THE FIRST OF
OUR REAL BIGGIES.
AGAIN, IT'S JUST A CASE OF
WE NEEDED A GOOD VILLAIN
FOR THE FANTASTIC FOUR.
AND THE NAMES
ARE SO IMPORTANT.
PEOPLE ALWAYS SAY, BOY,
THAT LEE, HE'S IN A RUT.
HE COMES UP WITH ALL THESE
NAMES WITH THE FIRST LETTERS.
YOU KNOW, DD, FOR DOCTOR
DOOM AND PETER PARKER...
THAT'S SPIDERMAN,
ON AND ON.
BUT I DID IT FOR A
VERY SOUND REASON.
I WAS WRITING SO MANY STORIES
AND MAKING UP SO MANY
CHARACTERS, I COULDN'T
REMEMBER THEM.
AND IF THEY HAD THE SAME
LETTERS, IT MADE IT EASIER,
YOU KNOW.
IF I REMEMBERED PETER, I COULD
THINK OF PARKER, BUT IF HIS
NAME WERE PETER BROWN, I
WOULDN'T HAVE KNOWN IS IT
BROWN OR SMITH, AND
I'D HAVE BEEN CONFUSED.
ALSO, THE KIDS CAN
REMEMBER THEM BETTER.
NOW YOU CAN NEVER
FORGET DOCTOR DOOM.
I MEAN PEOPLE WATCHING THIS
SHOW 20 YEARS FROM NOW WILL BE
WALKING DOWN THE STREET, AND
THEY'LL BE SAYING, WHY CAN'T
I GET DOCTOR DOOM OUT OF MY –

He points at his head and Mike laughs.

Stan continues BUT ANYWAY, I LOVE DOCTOR
DOOM, BECAUSE WE DID A LOT,
I THINK, OF UNIQUE THINGS
WITH HIM.
HE'S A KING.
HE'S NOT YOUR AVERAGE
CATCHPENNY TYPE OF VILLAIN,
YOU KNOW.
AND HE'S THE KING
OF LATVARIA.
NOW AS SUCH, WHEN HE
COMES TO AMERICA,
HE HAS DIPLOMATIC
IMMUNITY.
SO HE CAN'T BE ARRESTED
FOR WHATEVER HE DOES.
ALSO, HE REALLY NEVER
DOES ANYTHING ARRESTABLE.
NOW YOU OR I MIGHT BE ARRESTED
FOR BEING LITTERBUGS OR FOR
JAYWALKING OR CROSSING
AGAINST A LIGHT.
ALL DOCTOR DOOM TRIES TO
DO IS TAKE OVER THE WORLD.
AND IF YOU'LL CONSULT YOUR LAW
BOOK, YOU'LL FIND THAT IS
NOT A PUNISHABLE OFFENCE.
NOWHERE DOES IT SAY -- YOU
COULD WALK UP TO A POLICEMAN
AND SAY, OFFICER, I'M TRYING
TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD.
HE CANNOT PUT
YOU IN JAIL.
IT'S NOT A CRIME.
SO HERE'S THIS GUY WHO'S THE
WORST VILLAIN ON EARTH, WHO'S
TRYING TO TAKE OVER MANKIND,
CAN'T EVEN BE ARRESTED.
WHICH I ALWAYS THOUGHT
WAS KIND OF CUTE.

Mike says BUT HE IS... HE'S NOT
TOTALLY BAD, IS HE?

Stan says NO.

Mike says HE HAS SOME
GOOD THOUGHTS.

Stan says I THINK HE'S
VERY LOVABLE.
SEE, HE JUST FEELS HE COULD
RULE US BETTER THAN WE COULD
RULE OURSELVES, AND WHO
AM I TO SAY HE'S WRONG?
HE BELIEVES IN LAW AND ORDER,
AND, YOU KNOW, YOU'LL OBEY THE
LAW OR I'LL KILL YOU.
BUT, OKAY, THAT'S HIS WAY.
HE ALSO WEARS THIS MASK,
YOU KNOW, LIKE THE MAN
IN THE IRON MASK.
AND A SUIT OF IRON ARMOUR,
BECAUSE, LET'S SEE, ACCORDING
TO HIS ORIGIN, IF I REMEMBER
HIS FATHER WAS -- HIS MOTHER
AND FATHER BOTH WERE GYPSIES.
SHE WAS ALSO ACCUSED OF
BEING A WITCH, YEARS AGO
IN THE OLD COUNTRY.
AND IN SOME SMALL VILLAGE,
THEY WERE RUN OUT OF TOWN,
AND THEY PERISHED IN
THE COLD SOMEHOW.
AND HE ALWAYS HARBOURED A
RESENTMENT TOWARD HIS FELLOW
MAN FOR WHAT HAPPENED
TO HIS PARENTS.

Mike says I SEE.

Stan says SO THERE'S A REASON.
YEAH.
AND ONE DAY HE FOUND THIS
TRUNK THAT HIS MOTHER HAD WITH
ALL HER WITCH EFFECTS AND HER
MAGIC POTIONS, AND HE LEARNED
IT, AND HE WAS STEEPED -- HE
BECAME STEEPED IN MYSTICISM.
SO, AGAIN, HE'S NOT
YOUR ORDINARY VILLAIN.

Mike says NO, NO, NO.
A QUICK WORD
ABOUT MEPHISTO?

An image of the Mephisto character appears.

Stan says OH, MEPHISTO IS A GUY
THAT WE INTRODUCED IN
THE SILVER SURFER.
THE SILVER SURFER -- WE'D NEED
ANOTHER SHOW TO DESCRIBE HIM
FULLY, BUT HE'S SOMEBODY FROM
OUTER SPACE, WHO RIDES AROUND
ON A FLYING SURFBOARD.
THE KIND OF GUY YOU'D SEE
ANYWHERE, LOOKING UP IN
THE AIR, RIDING AROUND.
AND HE'S A REAL NICE GUY,
TRIES TO DO GOOD THINGS.
NOW HE'S VERY POWERFUL.
HE HAS COSMIC POWER.
HE CAN GO LIKE THAT, WHOOSH,
AND UNLEASH A BLAST THAT
WOULD REALLY HURT A FELLOW.
OKAY.
WE NEEDED A VILLAIN THAT WAS
STRONG ENOUGH TO OPPOSE
THE SILVER SURFER.
AND WE RAN OUT OF YOUR USUAL,
AVERAGE, EVERYDAY VILLAINS.
SO FINALLY I FIGURED THE
ONLY GUY LEFT IS SATAN.
SO I DECIDED TO CALL HIM
MEPHISTO, AND WE DID A STORY
THAT TAKES PLACE DOWN IN
HADES, AND SATAN IS TRYING...
SATAN FEELS THE SILVER SURFER
IS SO GOOD THAT IF HE COULD
GET HIS SOUL, IT WOULD BE
THE GREATEST TRIUMPH OF ALL.

Mike says EVEN SATAN
WANTS HIM.

Stan says OH, SURE.
SO WE HAD THIS BATTLE BETWEEN
GOOD AND EVIL, AND IT GAVE ME
A CHANCE TO USE ALL THE CORNY
DIALOGUE THAT I LIKE TO USE
AND THE FLOWERY PHRASES, AND
IT WAS REALLY A LOT OF FUN.
THE COLLEGE KIDS LOVE THE
SILVER SURFER SERIES.
AS A MATTER OF FACT, I'M DOING
A BOOK ABOUT THE SILVER SURFER
FOR THE PUBLISHING COMPANY OF
SIMON and SCHUSTER WHICH COMES
OUT THE END OF THIS YEAR.
IT'LL BE WHAT THEY CALL
A COFFEE TABLE BOOK.
A HUNDRED PAGE ORIGINAL.
THE ULTIMATE SILVER
SURFER STORY.

Mike says STAN, YOU WERE IN THE COMIC
BOOK FIELD, AS I SAID EARLIER
IN THE PROGRAM, 21 YEARS
BEFORE THE BREAKTHROUGH
IN MARVEL IN 1961.
AND IN THOSE 21 YEARS, YOU
ALWAYS THOUGHT OF IT AS
A TEMPORARY JOB.
DID A LOT OF FREELANCE WORK,
REALLY NEVER SET YOUR WHOLE
TIME TO IT.
STILL FEEL THAT WAY?

Stan says YOU KNOW, IT'S A FUNNY
THING, I STILL DO.
I NEVER FEEL PERMANENT
ABOUT ANYTHING.
THE THING I LIKE NOW, SINCE
I'VE BECOME PUBLISHER,
I'M INVOLVED IN SO
MANY OTHER THINGS.
BECAUSE I'M
WORKING ON FILMS.
I DID IN THE PAST, BUT ALWAYS
JUST IN MY SPARE TIME,
AND IT HAD NOTHING
TO DO WITH MARVEL.
BUT NOW, I'M WORKING ON MARVEL
FILMS AND TV SHOWS AND BOOKS,
AND ALL OF OUR LICENSING, YOU
KNOW, THE TOYS AND THE GAMES
AND THE PERIPHERAL THINGS.
SO I DON'T REALLY FEEL I'M
JUST IN COMIC BOOKS, BUT IT'S
JUST SUCH FUN, BECAUSE I'M
INVOLVED IN SO MANY FORMS OF
THE MEDIA, REALLY.

Mike says BUT WOULD YOU FEEL, IF IT WAS
JUST COMIC BOOKS, IS THERE A
RESIDUE OF DOUBT THERE THAT
THE BOTTOM MIGHT FALL OUT
OF THE COMIC BOOK
MARKET AT ANY TIME?

Stan says ONLY IF PEOPLE STOP
TAKING IT SERIOUSLY.
AND BY PEOPLE, I MEAN THE
CREATORS, BECAUSE COMIC BOOKS
BASICALLY ARE A WONDERFUL
WAY TO COMMUNICATE.
I'VE USED THEM FOR EDUCATION
FOR MANY YEARS, AND IN THE ARMY.
I WAS IN TRAINING -- IN THE
TRAINING DIVISION AT THE
SINGLE CORPS IN THE ARMY
DURING WORLD WAR TWO, AND
I WOULD REWRITE MANUALS THAT
WERE DIFFICULT FOR THE
ENLISTED MEN AND THE OFFICERS
TO UNDERSTAND AND TOOK TOO LONG.
I WOULD REWRITE THEM IN COMIC
STRIP FORM, AND WE WERE ABLE
TO CUT THE TRAINING PERIOD OF
MANY, MANY COURSES AND SUBJECTS.
SO I HAVE GREAT RESPECT.
THE LAST THING I CAN MENTION
IN THAT AREA, IF MICHELANGELO
AND SHAKESPEARE WERE ALIVE
TODAY AND GOT TOGETHER, AND IF
SHAKESPEARE SAID, HEY MIKE,
LET'S COLLABORATE ON A
COMIC STRIP, YOU KNOW.
I'LL WRITE IT
AND YOU DRAW IT.
WHO WOULD VENTURE TO SAY THAT
IT WOULDN'T BE A BEAUTIFUL
WORK OF ART?
SO I DON'T FEEL THERE'S
ANYTHING WRONG WITH
COMIC STRIPS OR COMIC BOOKS.
IT JUST DEPENDS ON
HOW WELL THEY'RE DONE.
BUT KIDS LOVE THEM, I THINK
THE DAY IN THE FUTURE WILL
COME WHEN ADULTS WILL LOVE
THEM MORE THAN THEY DO AS THEY
BEGIN TO REALIZE THAT THERE
ARE GOOD STORIES AND GOOD
ARTWORK IN SOME OF THEM.

Mike says DO YOU FIND IT A BETTER
AVENUE FOR SOCIAL CRITICISMS,
SAY, THAN THE NORMAL AVENUES
LIKE THE EDITORIAL PAGE?

Stan says I HATE TO QUALIFY
THINGS, BUT I THINK
IT'S AS GOOD AN AVENUE.
AGAIN, I'VE HAD SO MUCH
EXPERIENCE IN THIS.
ONE OF THE MOST POTENT MEANS
OF INFLUENCING PEOPLE IS
THE MOTION PICTURE.
I THINK THERE'S
NOTHING AS POWERFUL.
BECAUSE YOU'VE GOT WORDS.
YOU'VE GOT PICTURES.
YOU'VE GOT MUSIC.
IT APPEALS TO THE EMOTION,
TO ALL THE SENSES.
BUT THE SECOND MOST POTENT,
I THINK, IS THE COMIC BOOK.
BECAUSE IT HAS THE PICTURE.
IT HAS THE WORDS.
IT DOESN'T HAVE SOUND,
BUT IT HAS ANOTHER VALUE.
YOU CAN READ IT AND STUDY IT
AND ABSORB IT AT YOUR OWN SPEED.
YOU CAN GO BACK
AND RE-READ IT.
YOU CAN SHOW IT TO A
FRIEND AND SO FORTH.
YOU CAN CARRY
IT WITH YOU.

Mike says WHICH YOU CAN'T
DO WITH TELEVISION.

Stan says RIGHT.
IT'S A VERY
POWERFUL MEDIUM.

Mike says THAT TAKES US TO PERHAPS
ONE OF THE MOST POWERFUL
CHARACTERS YOU
HAVE YET CREATED.
NOW WHO MIGHT
THAT BE?
AND, OF COURSE, I AM
SPEAKING OF HOWARD THE DUCK.

Stan laughs.

The cover of an edition of the Howard the Duck comic appears on screen.

Stan says WELL, I HAVE TO MENTION,
IT'S A MARVEL CREATION.
HE'S ONE THAT I
DIDN'T CREATE.
A FELLOW NAMED
STEVE GERBER DID.
AND IT HAPPENED IN
A VERY FUNNY WAY.
WE HAD A BOOK -- IT WASN'T
ONE OF OUR BEST BOOKS.
IT WAS ABOUT ANOTHER MONSTER.
IT WASN'T A BAD ONE, BUT IT
WAS A BOOK CALLED
MAN-THING.
HYPHENATED.
MAN-THING.
WITH THIS DARN COLD, IT'S
HARD FOR ME TO SPEAK.
BUT, ANYWAY, IT WAS A
SERIOUS, MELODRAMATIC BOOK.
AND STEVE WAS DOING IT, AND I
FORGET WHO WAS DRAWING IT AT
THE TIME, BUT ONE DAY, I
HAPPENED TO BE THUMBING
THROUGH IT, AND I SAW A
PICTURE OF A LITTLE ANIMATED
TYPE DUCK IN THE
MAN-THING STORY.
AND THIS IS LIKE HEARING A TIN
TENPENNY FLUTE IN A SYMPHONIC
ORCHESTRA, YOU KNOW, AND I
SAID WHAT'S HE DOING THERE?
AND STEVE HAPPENED TO BE
THERE, AND HE SAID, AH,
HE'S A CHARACTER I
THREW IN JUST FOR FUN.
HE'S FROM ANOTHER PLANET WHERE
EVERYBODY LOOKS LIKE A DUCK.
AND HE SAID DON'T
BE ANGRY STAN.
I WON'T USE HIM AGAIN.
I SAID, YEAH, I THINK
HE'S KIND OF CUTE.
AND THEN I FORGOT
ABOUT HIM.
WELL, WE STARTED GETTING A LOT
OF MAIL FROM KIDS, WHO SAID,
HEY, THAT HOWARD THE DUCK
IS REAL FAR OUT, YOU KNOW.
SO I STARTED
READING IT AGAIN.

Mike giggles.

Stan says AND I SAID, I REALLY LIKE IT,
AND A LOT OF KIDS SEEM TO
LIKE IT, SO I SAID STEVE,
LET'S TAKE A FLYER.
I WANT YOU TO DO A WHOLE
BOOK CALLED HOWARD THE DUCK.
EVEN HE SAID,
YOU'RE CRAZY.
I SAID, COME ON,
WE'LL TAKE A CHANCE.
WELL, HOWARD HAS BECOME ONE OF
OUR BEST-SELLING CHARACTERS.
HE'S A LITTLE DUCK WHO TALKS
LIKE, I DON'T KNOW...
HE'S VERY BELLIGERENT
AND VERY CYNICAL.

Mike says HE LOOKS
LIKE DONALD DUCK,
BUT HE'S NOT LIKE
DONALD DUCK.

Stan says NOT AT ALL.
AND HE ONLY LOOKS LIKE HIM IN
THE SENSE IT'S THE SAME STYLE.
BUT HE SMOKES A CIGAR, AND
HE DOESN'T WEAR A LITTLE
SAILOR SUIT.
AND HE HAS A GIRLFRIEND.
AND HE'S RATHER
BITTER AND ANGRY.
HE'S THE LAST
ANGRY DUCK.

Mike laughs.

Theme music plays as the end credits roll.

Guest, Stan Lee.

Story Editor, Robin Christmas.

Producer and Director, Susan Murgatroyd.

Executive Producer, Mike McManus.

A learning opportunity by TVOntario. Copyright, The Ontario Educational Communications Authority.

Watch: Marvel Comics