I was walking back from UCLA with my friends Eric and Victor when he mumbled that line to me yesterday. While not only is it super accurate but we were returning from one of the most amazing things I have ever seen - Kevin Smith moderating a discussion with Stan Lee and Joe Quesada. The overall topic was a look at Marvel - Then and Now.
Some of my earliest memories regarding comic books is reading my fathers. But he had 'dad' comics like Conan and other semi serious books. I remember he gave me a copy of X-Men #207 that he found on a bus if I remember right. From there that got me super hooked. I went back and collected from #200 all the way up to #300. Unfortunately that was around the time that comics were going crazy with 10 different covers all polybagged with 900 individual collectible cards and other nonsense. I collected a lot of stuff during then but my main love was always the marvel universe - Mutant Massacre, Fall Of The Mutants, Inferno, etc were some amazing storylines. After #300 I decided that was the end and basically stopped collecting. I still go back and read trade paperbacks from time to time but I doubt if I will ever walk into a comic book store and buy individual issues. It's simply just too much damn work.
So I was super familiar with Stan Lee but not so much Joe Quesada. I knew him as an artist for sure but didn't even realize that he is the Editor in Chief for Marvel these days. So to hear him talk was super interesting to say the least.
The evening started with a ton of technical difficulties (aka feedback from the mic's for some reason) and it started off with a really superfluous slide show. It began by showing what I believe to be the first cover appearance of Captain America. Kevin asked Stan to go into detail about Captain America and handling American ideals and what not. Stan remarks with as you can see back then Captain America's shield wasn't always round and busted out laughing. That pretty much set the tone for the rest of the night with everyone being laid back.
Now I'm not sure if Stan Lee has just been going through the motions of answering the same questions for the past 900 years or what but his answers make it sound like anything was possible back then and somehow everything worked. Simply hearing him talk about the possible names for Spider-Man and going through the list of Arachnid-Man, Insect-Man, etc and saying, 'SPIDER-MAN!' makes it sound completely magical.
They talked about The Hulk for a while and Stan offered up an explanation of where the name came from. He admitted to liking another comic book at the time called, 'The Heap' and how it made for a really great sounding name. Obviously he couldn't steal that directly so he went through other words that started with H and settled on The Hulk. They also talked about the first appearance of The Hulk and how his skin was grey. Stan admits to printing problems and getting the color grey to be consistent from panel to panel. So he said, 'screw it - lets make him green!' Just like that, no super indepth detailed rationaliztion but a great answer nonetheless.
There were a lot of great moments like this. From Joe Quesada to making fun of Kevin Smith for liking Green Arrow (a character that Joe thinks is boring and flat) to Kevin Smith making fun of Stan Lee for not coming up with Wolverine. Stan making fun of Kevin calling none of his movies funny was damn entertaining as well.
They also brought up Director/Comic Book writer Reginald Hudlin who directed House Party and writes for Black Panther. Everyone kept making fun of how he can turn in a book every month and Kevin Smith takes like 3 years.
All in all a great evening. While walking back we just discussed how comics and other 'geek' things are completely mainstream now. From Lord of the Rings to World of Warcraft to Spider-Man being one of the highest grossing movies of all time. It's weird too because I don't think comic books themselves will ever reach mass market. Trade paperbacks have a better chance but even then I'm not sure if it will happen. Things like Heroes on TV are definitely improving the landscape of geekdom though. Almost all of those owe a slight deb to one of the most amazing people on the planet, Stan Lee. Like Joe Quesada said last night - the people who created Superman or Batman only created Superman/Batman. The characters that Stan Lee has created is a laundry list of who is who in pop culture.
Kevin Smith asked both of them who was the last great character that Marvel created offering Wolverine as the answer. Joe declined and said maybe either The Punisher or Elektra which I would have to completely disagree with. I think Kevin nailed it with Wolverine which has been around for quite some time now. Even more of a testament to Stan Lee's greatness - he's no longer churning out comic books and great characters are no longer being created as often.
Sorry for this being so damn long but it really was an amazing evening and I just wanted to share it with everyone.